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Keywords:

  • Horror film;
  • mental health;
  • psychosis;
  • stigma

Purpose

This paper highlights the specific manner in which twenty-first-century horror films stigmatize psychosis and mental health care environments (MHCEs)

Design and Methods

A search on various film forums using the terms “mental/psychiatric patient,” “psychosis/psychoses,” and “mental/psychiatric hospital” (limited from 2000 to 2012) revealed 55 films. A literature review revealed criteria for a checklist. Subsequent to viewings, salient recurring criteria were added to the checklist. Films were systematically analyzed under these criteria.

Findings

Homicidal maniacs are the most common stereotypes. Misinformation is often communicated. Familiar horror tropes are used to stigmatize MHCEs.

Practice implications

Practitioners should be aware of the specific manner in which clients are being stigmatized by the media. This paper highlights specific ways in which psychosis and MHCEs are stigmatized, and encourages practitioners to challenge these depictions.