Beyond Reason: Love and Mental Illness in Movies

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What’s love if it has never been tested by challenges? Through these stories of love, we enter the both the beautiful and twisted ways of our minds; and where reason fails, love understands, accepts and persists.

Forrest Gump (mentally challenged)

Life is like a box of chocolates, but with Forrest Gump, you never need to guess what you’re going to get. One of the endearing things about Forrest is that he does not know how to lie, scheme, or pretend. He is who he is, and his love is pure and simple and inspiring. One of the most heart-breaking scenes in the film is when he discovers that the child named after him is his own. His first concern is, “Is he smart?” Yet Forrest is wiser than people grant him. “I’m not a smart man,” he says, “but I know what love is.”

Adam (Asperger’s syndrome)

Like raccoons they find in the middle of New York City, it made no sense that Adam and Beth might not have really belonged, but there they were. Beth grows curious and learns about Adam’s world, and through their closeness, Adam too learns to come slowly out of his shell. Love teaches them to venture further into places they would not have discovered had it not been for their brief time together.

A Beautiful Mind (schizophrenia)

Say you walk in to a party, rather than be riveted by the most beautiful one, go for the others and you may not walk out alone. The Noble-prize winning mathematician who came up with Game Theory surely had a beautiful mind, but it was one tortured by its imagination. The same mind that produced his genius, also provoked his insanity. As a code-breaking mathematician working for the government, Nash is riddled with paranoia and later hallucinations caused by schizophrenia. It is only in the “mysterious equations of love” that Nash finally finds his sanity. While accepting the Nobel Prize, he addresses his wife Alicia with the ultimate faith: “You are the only reason I am. You are all my reasons.”

Gone Girl (antisocial personality disorder)

With her penchant for destruction, it’s easy to think that the girl in focus is a gone-case. When you reach the end, however, you wonder if Amy and Nick are not two sides of the same darkness. Amy has no scruples in going as far as committing murder when it comes to getting her way. And Nick, despite knowing all he does about her, is strangely drawn towards her. Her mind, so close to him, is a strange, strange mystery that keeps him ensnared.

As Good As It Gets (obsessive compulsive disorder)

When it comes to the people we love, we are willing to change for the better. “You make me want to be a better man,” says Melvin in his winning line to Carol. He may not completely get away from his obsessive rituals, but Melvin does try to go beyond what is second nature to him. And when it comes to love, perhaps that is as good as it gets.

The mind may have many treacherous ways, but when it comes to love, the equation is simpler. Every mind – from the simpleton to the genius – is at once empowered and powerless in the face of love.

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