On February 10th, I attended the NY film premiere of Touched With Fire, a new film starring Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as Carla and Marco, a pair of bipolar poets who meet in a psychiatric hospital and fall in love. According to the National Institute of Mental health, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness each year. Film writer and director, Paul Dalio, did an excellent job of portraying the challenges and gifts associated with having a mental illness.
But, what I found particularly striking about the film is how it explores the work of leading psychologist, Kay Jamison, who shows incredible links between manic-depression and creativity. Her research shows that many of the world’s famous artists including Lord Byron, Vincent Van Gogh, and Virginia Woolf had this link. When you realize that a large part of society’s greatest artist contributions stem from those effected by mental illness, I think it helps to take away the stigma of mental illness. I like the idea of not referring to this type of condition as a disease or illness. Hopefully one day it will be considered a gift (and that as we understand more, we will know how to deal with the tremendous challenges of this gift). That being said, please go see this important film. I hope that it will be a good starting point for all of us to begin discussing these topics further.
By Alexandra Fairweather