Psychiatry at the cinema
- By: Aileen O’Brien, Adil Akram
Psychiatric care is increasingly delivered in the community, and it can be difficult for students to get experience. A floridly psychotic patient presents difficult practical and ethical challenges in teaching. Cinema is there to entertain, and many films present mental health negatively, but some films also contain realistic depictions of mental illness that can be viewed without having to worry about consent.
An iconic film of the 1990s was Trainspotting, which follows the lives of a group of heroin addicts in Scotland. Heroin is an addictive drug, which takes over users’ lives as they seek their next “hit.” Withdrawal causes restlessness, muscle pains, insomnia, flu-like symptoms, and diarrhoea and vomiting. Overdose is often fatal. Trainspotting vividly portrays the way heroin takes over and the squalor surrounding regular use. And injecting is shown realistically—how can you show students this otherwise? The memorable and vivid withdrawal scene is slightly unrealistic, however, because