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Homeland: a responsible portrayal of bipolar disorder?


Homeland features Claire Danes as a CIA agent who hides bipolar disorder from her colleagues and receives treatment from her psychiatrist sister.

Does the series raise awareness of mental illness or irresponsibly sensationalise the condition? What do you think?


Readers' comments (6)

  • Having watched this all the way through, the comment on bipolar disorder seems to change from episode to episode.

    On the one hand you have this brilliant CIA agent has reached the top of her game despite 'suffering' the condition and although she struggles to keep it under control and gets results.

    On the other hand she is portrayed as a bit of a loose cannon with a maverick approach to the situations she faces, and you could argue that a) it's an 'entertaining' effect of her Bipoloar disorder and b) it actually belittles the seriousnes of the condition.

    I have to say overall that I don't think the programme deals with BD effectively - it's more of a character tool and isn't explored properly as an illness.

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  • I think that giving this character bipolar disorder hs been completely to make her character more intersting and the Homeland makers dont actually look at it from a mental health point of view or in more detail about the affect it has on her. especially outside of her CIA job.

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  • I didn't realise that Carrie had bipolar disorder. I thought some of her odd behaviour, such as her fling with Brody, was down to drinking too much alcohol!

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  • I think it's good that an action thriller type programme like this is highlighting bipolar disorder - you don't often find mental health issues in these sorts of programmes, so it might make a wider audience more aware of it.

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  • This week's episode where Carrie is in a manic episode made me cry as it's so realistic... the ideas, the paper to try to make sense of it, the colour scheme for marking the papers, the importance of having a green pen... If you don't suffer from it it's difficult to explain that dual fight to get the ideas out there but also to try to be sensible and recognise the need to be medicated. I don't wish to be a CIA agent but still would never feel comfortable being upfront with an employer about it. That includes the NHS

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  • as a 'sufferer' of bi polar, i found the portrayel realistic and true to my understanding of the condition. There's a scene where she jumps out of the car in traffic, awestruck by plants in a garden. She looks at the plants as a visual metaphor, relating it to the conundrum she is obssessing over. I had a similer experiance when manic once. I too looked at a garden and interpreted the mess as a metaphor that related to my life. I can't stress the significance that seemingly small things take on when manic.

    Carrie's brilliance at her job is a benifit of the condition but I think people should realise that although it is big part of her personality, it is not the sole definer.

    a poem I wrote..

    When I am happy

    The world is in motion
    Stars align
    I have all the time
    small cogs grind
    in grand design
    We turn

    When I am grim

    The whole world is my enemy
    Me against it all
    even wasps plot to get me

    Baited traps around me
    Clouds are out to wet me
    A season of despair
    For the fool and his conspiracy..
    Sods law dictates

    When I am manic
    Time is my tyrant
    Running through my fingers
    I must accelerate

    Surrounded by meaning
    I pause to pick the locks
    observations beckon
    Yelling me
    connect the dots

    The pace of thought wears down my mind
    I pay the price in ache
    A frame of mind to taste
    but to dwell is wretched fate

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