The Challenges Faced by People with Mental Disabilities

             Sometimes the worst disabilities are those which are invisible to the naked eye; people who have a mental illness or disability are overwhelmingly stigmatized by society and discrimination against them is both widespread and fully condoned in our culture. (Johnstone, 2005). The disadvantages of mental disabilities are compounded by the fact that the abilities which are disabled, so to speak, tend to be those which are most useful in navigating the social provisions for the disabled, and by the lack of physical manifestations which may discourage outsiders from recognizing the need for intervention. Thus there are many particular challenges facing the mentally disabled, including a lack of social sensitivity to, acceptance of, and knowledge about these disabilities, and widespread institutional discrimination affecting employment, medical care, travel, residency, and many other aspects of life. The purpose of this paper is to explore the portrayal in film and literature of the challenges faced by people with mentally disabilities; this may be accomplished by discussing in detail the films Forrest Gump and A Beautiful Mind. .

             Mental health, mental illness, and mental disabilities are popular themes in many movies. From the classics such as One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, which is set in a facility for the mentally disabled, and The Rain Man, which tells the story of an autistic man and his brother, to more recent box-office hits such as Girl, Interrupted, about a girl with a borderline personality disorder, and I Am Sam, which portrays a man with an intellectual disability, mental disabilities have been explored by countless filmmakers. Mental illness is certainly not a new topic for artists to explore, as is evidenced by the prevalence of mental disorders in Shakespearean drama and the literature of the Victorian era. " Characters with mental disabilities or mental illnesses have long been staples of literature.

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