While attending a candlelight vigil memorializing the victims of the Newton Massacre, Dr. Mehmed Oz reflected on how the acclaimed ‘Silver Linings Playbook‘ reminds people that “what makes us so adorable as a species is how unique we really are.” In his Huffington Post article ‘The Silver Lining of Mental Illness,’ the Cardiothoracic surgeon and television personality added that at the same time, “we complement each other like pieces of a puzzle.”
Dr. Oz said that while attending the Newton vigil, he spoke with people in the community, as they tried to understand how a person can commit such a “senseless act.” He pointed out how the shooting created a new sense of urgency to understand and embrace mental illness. While the government tackled the issue of gun control and the weapon’s threat to national security, Dr. Oz said “we need to break down barriers with a comprehensive approach to treating mental illness…we owe it to the victims of Newtown and their honor.”
‘The Dr. Oz Show’ host also pointed out that due to the best of intentions, the government has put forth strict confidentiality rules around those with mental illness. “Yet heart surgeons like me can do whatever we deem appropriate to help a heart attack victim, including emergency transport to catheterization labs,” he added.
Dr. Oz added that managing mental illness “is the final frontier of medicine because we struggle with the painful reality of coping with an invisible ailment that sneaks up on us unpredictably and has overt consequences on families and communities. But we are surrounded by differing degrees of mental illness in ourselves, in relatives we love, and in some people that we should fear.”
The reality was “addressed so tenderly in the hit movie, ‘Silver Linings Playbook,’” Dr. Oz said. “The movie’s humor cracks our natural defense against “messed up people” so wisdom and insight penetrates into our psyche. More importantly, solutions for the unlikely protagonists come from unexpected places as profoundly flawed people complement each other’s ailments.”
Dr. Oz points to the fact that in the romance comedy-drama, lead character Pat Jr., played by Bradley Cooper, is an institutionalized manic-depressive, who is freed by his loving mother, Dolores, portrayed by Jacki Weaver. She lies to her obsessive, compulsive gambling husband, Pat Sr., played by Robert De Niro, to give her son another chance. Pat Sr.’s first question to his son when he returns home is, “Are you taking the right dosage?” But Pat Jr. overcomes his illness and falls in love with an equally ill woman, Tiffany, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence in a Golden Globe-winning role.
Dr. Oz adds that Pat Jr. and Tiffany “awaken a dormant sense of hope by understanding each other without judgment. The movie shows us the humanity and similarities in the lives of those who are challenged with major disorders.”
The doctor also said that mental illness should no longer be stigmatized. He added that “many creative geniuses do their best work when depressed, because feeling down calls for action as we seek to change a reality that is pulling us down.”
But Dr. Oz suggested that people shouldn’t ignore cries for help from those afflicted with mental illness. “Let’s provide more comprehensive tools to help our communities cope. The first step will be revisiting our society’s outlook on mental illness. As Pat Sr. proclaims to his son, ‘Let me tell ya. You gotta pay attention to the signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back,’” he added.
Written by: Karen Benardello