A research project done by Andrea Lawson BA and Gregory Fouts PhD discuss the results from analyzing The Walt Disney Company and calculating the number of times mental illnesses were portrayed or discussed. Of the 34 animated films produced 85% contained references to mental illness, with a per film average of 4.6 reference. (Lawson, Fouts 2004) This conclusion also showed that most of the references (21%) were made in reference to lead roles. (Lawson, Fouts 2004) This information was discovered through the development of a code looking for references such as the use of ‘crazy’ or ‘nuts’ in a way that would refer to a mental illness. To give the most accurate read the code was tested on cartoons and reworked until they had a clear and reliable code. They also discovered that children who watch Disney are more likely to be exposed to mental illnesses then by watching television. (Lawson, Fouts 2004)
Since they used a coding system to gain results they only received verbal or written references to mental illnesses. The negative vocabulary attached to mental illness in the media is one of the reasons the stigma still exists. The exposure to this terminology could be having a major impact on children by feeding them stereo...
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...cks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ and I don’t agree with that statement because words are such a powerful tool and if misused they can do so much damage to a person emotionally and sometimes we don’t even realize the destruction or impact our words have caused until it’s too late.
The vicious cycle of ignorance and prejudice against mental illnesses is a serious issue that needs to be changed. A good starting point would be to bring to attention the negative use of mental illness in The Walt Disney Company and the rest of the film industry and try to correct it. There are plenty of was to create comic relief without stigmatizing mental illness. While fixing the movie industry may not fix this major issue it may be the push needed to start educating our children the proper way and eliminating the stigmatic mindset towards mental illness.
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