Document Type



Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Thesis supervisor: Dr. Bonita Cade


When watching films, people seek reflections and depictions of themselves and their experiences, something that they can understand and relate to. Movies are often looked at to decide, either subconsciously or consciously, how we view society, widespread issues, and one another—Oscar Wilde wrote that “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life” (Wilde, 1891). This is particularly true in how we as a society view mental illness, and what kinds of stigma are reinforced or rejected through the film industry. Accurately portraying any form of mental illness in film can be difficult, as experiences are subjective and no two individuals will have the same story, and there is usually around a two-hour time restriction on how much of the story in question can be told. However, many of the stereotypes that end up being depicted are profoundly negative and harmful, and they can potentially directly prevent people from seeking help. This is even more common in films about highly stigmatized diagnoses, one of the most prevalent of which is addiction, specifically alcohol use disorder, which I will refer to more loosely as alcohol dependency. These stereotypes have been both enforced and prolonged by their appearance in films throughout the years; how films portray alcohol dependency has shaped the way that other media outlets report on it, as well as how the audience views it.