This week’s post: Celebrities Help With Society’s Progress in Understanding Mental Illness

I am still interested in raising more questions about society’s views, perceptions, misconceptions, stereotypes and prejudices regarding mental illness, as well as asking, “How far have we come in a positive way?” because it is true that we are improving.

Let me make this post more reflective of some positive progress in our society in understanding mental illness. Recent disclosures of celebrities regarding their struggles have been invaluable. Like it or not, celebrities can have a huge influence on citizens’ thoughts and perceptions, regarding everything from attractiveness to mental illness. (Of course, Angelina Jolie’s recent public revelation about her double mastectomy has been instrumental in helping women cope with the possibilities of developping breast cancer, and I even know people who, after hearing about this, decided it’s about time I go get that mammogram I’ve been avoiding. How amazing and wonderful!)

Catherine Zeta Jones comes to mind as the most recent “celebrity confession” regarding serious chronic mental illness. She suffers from Bipolar 2 Disorder, which is less severe than bipolar 1, but her mere talking about her struggles and explaining them even went further to educate people, because the vast majority of people do not even know what Bipolar 2 is or about its existence, so one could argue that though she has a less severe form of Bipolar Disorder, she has been couragesous and invaluable in helping people understand how complicated Bipolar Disorder is and also even more importantly, that many people who have any form of Bipolar Disorder are able to function and contribute greatly to society. The mere fact that many individuals with Bipolar Disorder are “in the closet” about it at work and in other arenas, reveals how easily those people who are taking their medication and other treatments are able to “pass” as not having any type of mental illness.

Wow! How timely. I just googled her and bipolar and she has just the other day, emerged from going to a treatment facility for Bipolar 2. Here is the article in the LA Times:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/la-et-mg-catherine-zeta-jones-bipolar-treament-completed-20130523,0,2772184.story

Actually she first revealed her struggles with bipolar a while ago. In fact, she was “outed” in the fall of 2012 and discussed her struggles in her cover issue interview in InStyle magazine, so actually it should not have come as a shock that she sought out treatment very recently, as most people knew back in fall 2012, as InStyle magazine is pretty mainstream:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2012/11/13/catherine-zeta-jones-instyle-cover-helps-defuse-bipolar-stigma/1703053/

Zeta-Jones is not the first to discuss her struggles with mental illness and really help dispel a lot of stigma about it. I don’t usually like to quote from Wikipedia as it is so easy to just go there for info, and I like to cite a variety of websites, but they do have one of the most extensive lists of celebrities who have suffered from some form of schizophrenia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_schizophrenia

There are many celebrities who have talked about their battles with depression, whether as a teenager or adult. Kirsten Dunst was all over the news in August-November 2011 talking about her most recent bout with depression. I learned about it from watching of all things, the E channnel’s coverage of Celebrities with mental illnesses. This supposedly “superficial” channel about celebrities actually did a great show quite a while ago and extensively covered the range of disorders from eating disorders to depression to anxiety, bipolar and also drug/alcohol abuse. I just looked it up and it came out in 2008; I remember watching the show and I really thought it was a great way to help people understand mental illness and related disorders and see that wealth and fame have nothing to do with mental health. This is the summary of that show:

“Celebrity Crises: 10 Most Shocking Mental Disorders is an American television entertainment special produced by E! Networks which documents the mental trials and tribulations of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

The special originally aired in the USA on E! Entertainment on 22 August, 2008. It is 50 minutes long.
Synopsis

When Hollywood stars are diagnosed with a mental health ailment it’s big news. From rumours about Britney’s bipolar disorder to Heath Ledger’s bout with depression, phobias and mental illness are getting more attention.

But of course, mental illness can affect anyone. Close to 58-million Americans — about one in four adults — suffer from a mental disorder.

From eating disorders (Mary Kate Olsen) to depression (Heather Locklear, Kirsten Dunst, Mia Tyler, Jim Carrey, Heath Ledger), to cases where stars have harmed themselves (Christina Ricci – cutting) this one hour special will explore ten troubling mental disorders, with interviews from doctors, psychologists and the stars themselves.”

The show may not have been extensive and totally informative about all these disorders. Who could do that in 50 minutes? However, it was great in scope and just introducing these different issues to the public.

There are also people in politics who have a lot of power to help the public understand mental illness and decrease the stigma and shame. There are also pioneers in the mental health field, such as Kay Jamison, who is not only an expert on mood disorders but wrote a great memoir of her own struggles with Bipolar 1 Disorder, titled “An Unquiet Mind”. The fact that she is well known for her own “coming out” about her personal struggles, indicates we still have miles to go in decreasing stigma, as we see that in the field of mental health itself, the majority of psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists that suffer from any mental illness do not actually feel safe disclosing about their personal struggles. Another author and therapist who has written some great personal accounts of her own struggles is Lauren Slater. Her work is more on the edge and less well known to the general public, but she has written many interesting books about a variety of struggles.

So, in closing, I do believe that some of the best ways to educate the public about mental illness is through the mainstream media, whether it be a celebrity disclosing their struggles and talking openly about their treatment, or even films that attempt to focus on the topic, whether documentary TV shows like the one mentioned above, or the many biopics and fictions films about mental illness, such as the film “A Beautiful Mind” and the TV shows “Homeland”, “Six Feet Under” and “The Sopranos”, as well as numerous others. Even when such films or tv shows don’t give a totally accurate depiction of a specific mental illness (see my reviews of “Silver Linings Playbook,” they are still contributing to the more healthy dialogue that we need to have about this topic. A little misinformation is worth it if the subject at hand becomes more familiar to the general public and helps people view this topic with more compassion and less judgments…

Skipped last week’s post; some more questions about the stigma of mental illness…

I have been trying to post weekly so I was due to post on or around May 23, but obviously missed it!

I began a new topic, mental illness and stigma and society’s assumptions about mental illness, especially the common connecting violence and mental illness, which is disturbing to me, as I have treated and continue to treat so many people with various types of mental illness, including substance related issues, and there are so many people out there suffering from these issues who have never acted violently at all.

There is a lot of controversy right now about guns and what kinds of evaluations people should undergo before acquiring a gun. I am not pro guns in general, and my thoughts about this are that, if wonderful people who want to adopt a child have to undergo terrible stressful and traumatizing scrutiny to become parent(s), why should it be so much easier for any individual to just march into a store and acquire a gun? This is lopsided. Many people with mental illnesses are great parents.

In addition, there is the question, if you are diagnosed with a mental illness, does that mean you should be barred from owning a gun? Does it depend on the mental illness or severity of it? Who is to judge? Many people with “sociopathic” personalities are very good at “functioning” and passing as “normal”. Is it more likely that a person with sociopathic traits would be a danger if s/he owned a gun than someone with, say, a depressive disorder?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. However, I do think that if you want to own a gun, just like a prospective adoptive parent, you should undergo having visits from social workers to your house and should experience at least the same amount of scrutiny as these individuals who want a child so desperately.

And what if you have a mental illness and want to adopt a child? I’m not sure how hard that is, but just look at this “yahoo” website post and read the comments below it. I’m citing it to show that random people on the internet think very quick judgments about mental illness and fitness for parenting. There are a variety of comments in the comments section, a few supportive and trying to give the individual asking some answers and support, and some very harsh judgmental comments. It is sad to see that because there are so many more people wanting to adopt than kids to adopt, the “background checks” may cause agencies to be prejudiced against people with mental illness adopting kids if they have such a range of “choices”…
Here is the link:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120129172953AAV7qgj

Violence and Mental Illness: The Stigma and the Truth

This is a huge topic, so I will only touch on one “mental illness”, as there is a trial all about BPD in the press and the jury is deliberating whether to send the woman to be executed or not. So I am not going to write about BPD, as it is extremely complicated and I’d rather wait and see what happens with the jury’s decision and then post on BPD and violence. Just one thing to say, without any statistics, it is my experience that people suffering from BPD do a lot of self harming rather than violence towards others. Everything from extreme binging and purging, self-mutilation, repeated suicide attempts, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. plagues people who suffer from BPD.

As I was posting about the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” and felt that it gave a bad impression that people who are going through mania and manic psychosis are violent, I wanted to write about that and shed some light on it. A colleague shared with me that unlike my experiences, she had seem many males who became violent while manic and in the midst of a manic psychosis, so I wondered, is this movie off the mark or not?

Ok.
I looked around the internet and found a study done in England around Sept. 20101. You can read the whole summary here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20819987

Here’s the important finding, which is that the comorbidity of substance abuse and bipolar disorder is what increases the incidence of violence in people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. In regular English, this means that the subgroup of people who have BIpolar Disorder and are abusing drugs and alcohol on a regular basis, usually knows as “MICA” (Mentally Ill and Chemically Addicted), and requiring treatment of both problems, that those people are more likely to be violent than the general population. However, it seems the risk of violence in individuals suffering from BIpolar Disorder alone is minimally different from the rest of the population. This makes sense as there is probably a lot of evidence that especially polysubstance abuse but also alcoholism and any drug addiction that becomes severe and episodic can result in violent behavior. Which is not to say that every alcoholic or person suffering from drug addiction is dangerous, however, I am sure there are some statistics out there supporting a higher evidence of violence occuring among this population…

“During follow-up, 314 individuals with bipolar disorder (8.4%) committed violent crime compared with 1312 general population controls (3.5%) (adjusted odds ratio, 2.3; 95% confidence interval, 2.0-2.6). The risk was mostly confined to patients with substance abuse comorbidity (adjusted odds ratio, 6.4; 95% confidence interval, 5.1-8.1). The risk increase was minimal in patients without substance abuse comorbidity (adjusted odds ratio, 1.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-1.5), which was further attenuated when unaffected full siblings of individuals with bipolar disorder were used as controls (1.1; 0.7-1.6). We found no differences in rates of violent crime by clinical subgroups (manic vs depressive or psychotic vs nonpsychotic). The systematic review identified 8 previous studies (n = 6383), with high heterogeneity between studies. Odds ratio for violence risk ranged from 2 to 9.

CONCLUSION:

Although current guidelines for the management of individuals with bipolar disorder do not recommend routine risk assessment for violence, this assertion may need review in patients with comorbid substance abuse.”

So, to get back to the movie, they did not show the protagonist drinking or doing drugs at all in the movie as far as I remember. Even at the football game, I don’t think he was drunk, but I could be remembering wrong. It seemed like the only hints of drinking under stress were evidenced by the character Tiffany who did not suffer from bipolar disorder, and she was not portrayed as abusing alcohol. So I think this movie could mislead the public into associating manic and other forms of Bipolar Disorder with episodes of violence, when the evidence does not support it…

Here’s another article about the topic, talking about men vs. women but also focusing on the co-occurence of substance abuse and bipolar episodes. The memoir by Marya Hornbacher: Madness: A Bipolar LIfe, is a real roller coaster ride, and great portrayal of someone with a huge drinking problem and bipolar disorder and the self destruction and pain she undergoes after recovering from a very severe eating disorder.

Here are her words about her drinking:

I started drinking when I was ten. There’s a scene in the book where I talk about discovering the booze in the cupboard underneath the stove… It, too, functioned very briefly as a mood stabilizer… It elevated my mood, and just made me feel like I was flying. Instead of feeling like I was going up and down and up and down, there were no more crashes. For a few hours at a time, I wasn’t terrified, I wasn’t anxious — I was just high as a kite. Of course, like any other alcoholic, the reasons you do it at first become irrelevant, because then, you’re just drinking because you’re an alcoholic. When you try to stop drinking, as I did many, many times many years later, you realize it’s not about anything. It’s a function of a kind of desperation and addiction.

So, of course, this topic is extremely complicated, but it is interesting how adding addiction to any other issues magnifies the risks of impulsive behavior, self-harming and suicidal behavior, and sometimes violent behavior towards others… But it makes sense that I have worked with and known of so many cases of people suffering from various forms of Bipolar Disorder who never had any episodes of any violent behavior towards others…

Silver Linings Playbook; From A- to B-/C+ in Less than a Week!

ok. I had a terrible day today, so it feels like the perfect time to have fun writing this post because I saw Silver Linings Playbook for the second time the other day and I was blown away — by how much worse it was on a second viewing! I almost felt scammed or literally “played” that I had such a “manic” experience loving it after a first viewing.

Basically for me, the big test of a movie is, does it stand up to being seen a second and then a third and then maybe even a fourth or fifth time? Doesn’t matter how soon you see it again. As I said in my last post, that is why I love films like “Bringing Up Baby” and more modern ones like “Spotless Mind”; every time I see them, I find something else to love about them and get great enjoyment out of seeing scenes I could practically play over in my head between viewings, such as the dog and dinosaur bone garden digging scene in “Bringing Up Baby.” In fact when I realized how much lower Silver Linings sank on the second viewing I remembered that I talked a lot about Bringing Up Baby in my glowing post; and I realized it was because the elements I liked about Silver Linings reminded me of that classic and maybe reminded me too much of how great that movie was! A really good movie like the “Spotless Mind” one doesn’t remind you so quickly of other movies because there are really great cool things in it to enjoy that seem totally unique to the movie even if it is a familiar “genre”.

So what took the silver linings out of “Silver Linings”? Just about everything except the characters of Tiffany and the father played by DeNiro. The fact that on second viewing the main character Pat did not seem like a real person and those other “supporting” characters were more interesting did not help it. Other complaints that can be quickly listed off: too many montages (I challenge you to watch it again and count how many long montages there are and how much time they take up in between real scenes)– unless you’re watching a cool music video, you do not want to be aware of having a montage much less five or more of them in a movie. OK. I guess my other criticisms do not fit into a short list. Let’s take the most important one, the portrayal of bipolar disorder:
On a second viewing I was shocked I did not notice this important thing the first time: Pat’s big episode was “triggered” by a violent situation which is terrible for many reasons. One, I have worked with many people with serious bipolar disorder and others with family members and close friends with bipolar and never in all the years of hearing all the stories of these people has any of them been described as involving violence, much less two episodes with violence in them (the scene where he almost kills the history teacher and the scene in which he hits his mom and his dad gets violent). This gives the general public a very strange idea about mania and bipolar psychosis and from viewing the film if you did not know about it, you would associate violence with manic episodes. In addition, as I confirmed by talking to a married straight guy about the film, most men in Pat’s situation might have done the same thing upon coming home to their wedding song playing and their wife in the shower having sex with the history teacher, without having any mental illness issue whatsoever, so it confuses the issue to have this event be the major event that results in Pat’s hospitalization. Plus if you watch the movie carefully, you hear that the lawyer obviously used mental illness to get him into the hospital for 8 months instead of put in jail, which puts the reality of him having it in question as it is referred to as “undiagnosed bipolar”. The icing on the cake is the scene where he ends up getting violent with his mom and then realizing he needs to take his medication. None of this fits any of the accounts I have heard of others’ manic episodes. The most common thread is the transition from mania to psychosis involving religious delusions and all kinds of intense meaningful LSD like spiritual experiences as well as grandiose delusions (ie. “I was convinced I had to fly to LA to the big premier of my brilliant movie, or, “I really thought I was god” “I thought I had found the cure to cancer and was about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize,” etc.) Sometimes if a relationship has just ended or some kind of intense love feelings are involved but not receprocated in reality the person while manic is convinced someone or several people are in love with him or her who in reality are not.

Anyway, that is a big problem with the movie on second viewing that makes me change my opinion of the TV show “Homeland”. I was a bit hard on it in my last review of this movie. I still think the ECT was strange and not well explained and that I would like to see the character have a session with a psychiatrist or therapist and also know what meds she takes, however at least her episodes are more realistically portrayed. We see that she is not in reality but we see how subtle it is that her reality is becoming out of wack, which is really well done on that show in that her job is already an inherently stressful and crazy paranoid making job and her obsession with the other character makes sense.

So “Silver LInings” still gets my approval for an ok portrayal of therapy and for the character taking the right medications. Probably the best scene in the movie that reflects the stigma of all kinds of mental illness is when he points out to his family and the others in the scene that maybe he and the other two “crazy” characters in the movie see things and understand things in a way that the others do not; I think that is true. If there is a silver lining to having a serious mental illness, it is that you experience life in a way that others do not and have a unique sensitivity towards others. The way seeing impaired people report that they their sense of hearing is very good…

So, lesson learned: watch out for getting too seduced by a movie that already has a lot of hype. Watch it at least two times before writing a big “I love it” blog post!!! We therapists sometimes get it wrong, that is for sure!

Silver Linings Playbook!

I had not posted my weekly post yet as I was thinking about a complicated post about new theories about sexuality and something called “sex scripts”, part of this new idea about how people’s “sex orientations” (my phrase to describe how people think about, view sex and their fantasy lives, very different from the concept of “sexual orientation”, but both are connected in that we do not choose them, they “happen” to us or get coded in us…)

More on that when I have time to craft a long and complicated explanation of the ideas in it. Luckily I saw the movie, “Silver Linings Playbook” last night on DVD, so I have a very short (well actually it turns out to be longer than I thought!) post to write about it.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen this movie, don’t read this post!

This movie really caught me by surprise, not the topics in it, but how much I liked it. I don’t often really absolutely love a movie and want to see it again soon. In recent years the last time I felt that way about a current movie was the moive, “Stranger Than Fiction”, from 2006. So I tend to be really moved and excited about a movie every 4-7 years, I guess. There was “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotted Mind” from 2004, so I guess those years I did not have to wait as long to be totally bowled over by a movie. Then before that it was “Being John Malcovich” which I saw over and over, maybe a total of 5 times! That came out in 1999, so I had to wait about 5 years to be that affected by a movie. It’s no surprise that Silver Linings marks seven years of no great movie for me; I have to confess that I have not seen that many movies out in the theaters since 2006 anyway, even though I have rented, bought and watched Netflix.

Anyway, I was prepared to watch with my therapist goggles on to see how they portrayed mental illness, especially bipolar disorder, but I wasn’t prepared for the portrayal of traumatic bereavement reactions in the traumatized “depressed” character Tiffany, or the portrayal of a very strange functional version of OCD in the father. There was another character from the hospital who had some kind of mental illness that was not clearly defined but seemed to have some OCD involved with his obsessions about his hair.

I was not prepared to be laughing out loud throughout the movie and of course, crying at the end.

Anyway, besides just being bowled over by the writing and how great all the performances were, I was really moved by the kind of love story they were telling. Yes, the portrayal of bipolar disorder was pretty good given the standard these days as set by the tv show Homeland, which I have a lot of problems with (why don’t they ever show her in therapy or with a psychiatrist? why did she have to get ECT which is sort of unusual for people with bipolar disorder? it seemed like they did not make clear that she was actually taking any meds and which ones and why they were not working.) For those who thought it was more realistic, I send them to the scenes when Pat in Playbook talks about not taking his meds, talks about which meds, and starts taking them despite not wanting to be “flattened” out.

The portrayal in Silver Linings was really much more realistic than the one in Homeland. I think the last time I saw such good portrayal of bipolar disorder was in the tv show “Six Feet Under”. The film actually managed to have some decent therapy scenes, with an actually pretty good empathic yet firm therapist. What a relief, as the TV and Film industry seems to love portraying therapy and therapists in a negative light or choose to portray very weird unconventional types of therapists for the sake of drama. This therapist did not have that many scenes to get developed the way Dr. Melfi in The Sopranos, another good therapist, was portrayed, but at least he was pretty much doing his job and wanted to help Pat, which is a victory for showing therapy in a good light. The film dealt well with the character’s initial avoidance of taking his meds, and came up with a very dramatic but not unrealistic scene of him behaving in such a way that he got it together to start taking his medications. (If I’m remembering correctly, it was after the flashback and hitting mom with dad hitting him at the end disturbing scene…) Also, bravo for the writers, we heard exactly what meds he was on and they made sense! He was taking lithium, seroquel and Abilify, which was also right on the mark for someone with Bipolar 1 to be taking post hopitalization for stabilizing mania, and as an example of a normal “bipolar cocktail” group of meds. Lithium as a mood stabilizer, one of the first ones discovered by accident, and seroquel, a fairly recent psychotropic medication used for bipolar disorder and at higher doses for any kind of schizophrenia disorder (schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia, schizoaffetive disorder, schizophreniform disorder…). Serquel is sometimes prescribed with depakote or lithium to add to mood stabilization and also as an anti-psychotic. It also acts as an anti-depressant. Abilify is a relatively new medication, not yet produced in the generic, that is used to increase the “ability” of the other meds’, usually moood stabilizers or anti-depressants, effectiveness. So, good for them, they got specific and realistic with the medication.

The reason I harp on the medication is that it is an opportunity for the general public to understand more about mental illnesses, such as Bipolar 1 Disorder, that are severe yet can afford the patient a “normal” functioning life if taken responsibly and under the care of a psychiatrist. And again, it is great for people to see what a difference the medication makes. As evil as people think the pharma companies are, these meds save lives, really they do! And they aid in people being able to have much fuller lives with less hospitalizations, etc.

I was also pleased with Tiffany’s character and the portrayal of her “craziness”, about which at one point the main character says says something cruel to the effect that he can’t see himself as being seen similar to her, implying that he thinks she is “crazier” than he is. There is a good scene where she points out that she is at least at peace with her “issues” and past impulsive sexual behavior (which was triggered by the sudden death of her husband) and can he say that for himself, which gives him pause, as he is not ok with his past violent eruptions and has not integrated the shadow parts of himself fully as she seems to have…

Now about the other main character with a kind of “mental illness”/ Tiffany’s narrative describing her “acting out” behaviors following the sudden death of her husband, was nicely placed in the film before you find out how he died, which makes for a realistic progression of things; we don’t know everything in a logical linear fashion about people when we enter any kind of relationship with them. Also, it affords the movie to cause uneducated and more judgmental people in the audience to have negative reactions to her description of having sex with 11 people in her office before getting fired after some kind of sexual harrassment from her boss (that last part I don’t remember the details of as by then I think Pat is so intrigued by her description). Perhaps without thinking about it, the writer or writers of the screenplay or book it was based on, are helping people understand why, after the events of 9/11/01, there was a lot of talk about 9/11 widows being rampantly promiscuous and even that people in their circles viewed them as “sluts” or even that men meeting them easily propositioned them assuming they were all promiscous and easy to score with. Obviously, not every widow surviving an extremely traumatic death of their partner gets so traumatically depressed that she engages in such kinds of impulsive sexual promiscuity and sexual promiscuity that is somewhat self-destructive (ie. either not using condoms or having sex at one’s work place and getting fired, etc.), but Tiffany’s character is well fleshed out and complex. The great twist is that she is not ashamed of her behavior or even regretful, which is also great at getting at stereotypes or archetypes in society of the “Widow Slut”. The situation is made more complex by the fact that she also engaged in sexual activity with women. There is a brief nod to the concept of partners not being understanding or open to each others’ fantasies from the scene in the diner when she starts elaborating on her experience with one older woman and both characters are aware that Pat is fascinated and turned on by it. At this point he says the only negative thing about his marriage in the movie, as he is idealizing the concept of marriage and his now broken marriage that, that his wife did not understand or want to participate in his fantasy life or at least he alludes to some closed mindedness in the area of her husband being attracted to women or wanting to talk “dirty” with her. This relates to the post I mentioned above that I have yet to write.

Anyway I diverge from the main important things that make this film so great. Thinking more about it, I see it as being part of the genre of a particular kind of romantic comedy that “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and even “Stranger Than Fiction” might belong to. It’s not the remarriage comedy of the Katherine Hepburn romantic comedies but it has the formula in which one protagonist is highly aware of being in love with the other one and frustrated by the blockages the other one is facing that cause him or her to not realize they are also in love, in effect described in the movie at the end as a kind of “catching up”. This “catching up” concept is actually very common in romantic comedies, and what makes us always expect the “running on foot” chase after the loved one at the end of the movie. How many romantic comedies have you seen with the speech from some other character about seizing the day and the “go after him or her or you will regret it for the rest of your life” almost word for word. In this movie the father wonderfully played by Robert DeNiro gets to make that speech which precipitates his son literally sprinting after Tiffany who has literally run out of the building. The running metaphor is well used in the movie as Pat goes for a run and literally “runs” into Tiffany or she goes out running when she knows he will be running in here neighborhood and she litterally runs after him as she does metaphorically throughout the movie, patiently listening to his rants about his wife who left him after the big “incident” and who has a restraining order against him, and patiently waits for the here and now of her interactions with him to cause him to fall in love with her as a real person. She is competing with a fantasy. He is competing with a dead man which is no competition at all as she begins running away from him and after him from the moment they meet. She interrupts the dinner at her sister’s house to run away, at the same time asking him to take her home.

Anyway, this running after him and his “catching up” at the end reminds me most of a really great classic romantic comedy with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, “Bringing up Baby”. The Hepburn character is not swayed by the fact that Grant is engaged to get married the next day. She spends the whole movie figuring out how to keep him near her and falling into one disastrous chaotic romantic event after another. A classic scene is when she has got all his clothes to the dry cleaners. He is forced to stay longer at her aunt’s house and don a very feminine white bathrobe with white fur on it. While he is in the shower, Goerge the dog finds his very valuable dinosaur bone and of course absconds with it and burries it in the garden. So the great scene is Hepburn and Grant running all over her aunt’s garden getting George to dig holes everywhere trying desperately to find the bone. The movie is hilariously full of mishaps, and Grant only “catches up” to Hepburn at the end by which time almost every character except the stiff and unadventurous fiancee is in the local jail with two leopards at large, both Baby the tame leopard and a wild leopard…

Really, Silver Linings most reminded me of that lovely film. The female characters are both equally memorable and have the same determination to somehow by keeping the man “involved” in their own daily life and keep the man with you and far away from the physical presence of the almost ex wife or the finacee. Physical presence and the charm and realness of these determined women win the day and they are rewarded with the slow minded but wonderful men finally getting it into their thick brains and hearts that they instead of wanting to run away from the women, actually want to keep them by their side for the rest of their wife.

To take this lovely cliche and still make us want it to happen and love to watch it throughout the film is just brilliant. That is what makes the film, that they can do it and I’m crying at the end. It’s a testamennt to the whole writing and buildup and chase throughout the movie…There is a great scene near the end when Tiffany convinces Pat’s father to change his mind completely about her by proving that every time Pat has been with her the Eagles have won the game; this sets off the rest of the movie being very reminiscent of the madcap old comedies like “Bringing up Baby”. I’m sure I could find several others. Philadelphia Story is a good reversal in which Cary Grant waits the whole film for his ex wife Hepburn to realize that she wants to remarry him, a slight twist on the waiting around plot that we see in every good and bad romantic comedy!

So basically, this movie works on so many levels one could go on and on about it. It’s making me want to find other such movies with the same romantic plot, but I realize even Spotless Mind works in the same way, except we the audience are waiting for both lovers to return to each other and each seems to have to catch up to the other equally…