My family watched Silver Linings Playbook last night. We all really enjoyed the dark romantic comedy, but I couldn’t shake some misgivings.
Talking afterward with my eldest daughter (who’s just finished taking a college Intro to Psychology class), I realized that part of the discomfort I was feeling had to do with the portrayal of the mental and emotional states of the two main characters, Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). As Sasha pointed out, the two actors give fine, nuanced performances, but really, even given what little I know, their portrayals of two characters struggling with heavy-duty psychological issues had very little to do with clinical psychology and a lot to do with storytelling convention and narrative design. As we talked about it, I had this epiphany: in any story, madness (like magic, murder, etc.) is first and foremost a literary trope rather than an expression of objective psychological reality. Continue reading Crazy Is as Crazy Does – Madness and Narrative