Psychological Disorders in the Media

Psychological Disorders in the Media


LEarning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts and empirical findings in the major areas of psychology
  • Understand and apply psychological principles to individual, social, and career issues
  • Recognize human diversity and understand that psychological explanations may vary across populations and contexts

Assignment Instructions

The objective of this assignment is for you to compare how different psychological disorders are portrayed in the media and understood by the general population as compared to how they are characterized by psychological professionals and the DSM-V. You will be taking these comparisons and drawing your own conclusions about stigmas and misinformation and the impact they have on society. There arethree distinct parts to this assignment.

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Part 1: Information Gathering

  1. Pick a psychological disorder from the following list:


  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Dissociative identity disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder


  1. Find an example of your selected psychological disorder in a feature length movie OR television show and watch it, paying particular attention to how the disorder is portrayed in the movie/show.This movie or TV show MUST refer to this psychological disorder by NAME.
    • If you have a question about if a specific movie or show would be appropriate, please Email me and I’d be happy to help!
  2. Interview a family or friend with no official psychology background. Find out the following information:
    • What do they know (or think they know) about your selected psychological disorder?
    • How prevalent do they think your selected psychological disorder is in the United States?
    • What do they think the demographics are of the people who have this psychological disorder?
    • Can they think of an example of this psychological disorder in the media?
    • Any additional information you would like to ask them about the psychological disorder. You must think of at least one additional question to ask them.

Part 2: Presentation of ideas

After you have completed each step in part 1, you now must compile the data you have collected into a tangible presentation of ideas. This could be a paper, PowerPoint presentation, video, digital poster, or something else creative! You just need to make sure that the following information is clearly explained in your presentation:

  1. Your chosen psychological disorder should be clearly defined with all relevant characteristics and diagnostic criteria pertaining to the disorder. The DSM-V would be a great place to find this data, but if you do not have access to one, your textbook and Google are your friends!
  2. Movie/TV summary
    • You should summarize your movie/TV show you watched in no more than 3 sentences (or 1 slide if doing a PowerPoint) – remember, this presentation is about the psychological disorder, NOT the movie. Leave the reviews to the critics!
      1. If you are doing a TV show, please list the season and episode number of the episode you are using. Remember, your psychological disorder must be referred to by name so there has to be a specific episode, not a series as a whole.
    • Compare and contrast how your chosen psychological disorder is characterized in the movie/TV show you watched vs. how the DSM-5, your textbook, and other peer-reviewed scholarly articles explain the disorder.
      1. This should be clearly labeled as similarities and differences with specific examples.
  1. Interview
    • Summarize how your friend or family member answered thequestions from part 1. How does this compare to the actual information about your chosen psychological disorder that is presented in the DSM-V, your textbook, and other peer-reviewed scholarly articles?
      1. This should also be clearly labeled as similarities and differences with specific examples.
  1. Conclusion
    • This should be the LONGEST part of your project.
    • What conclusions have you drawn from your research into your chosen psychological disorder?
      1. Think about the similarities and differences you found and why that is important.
      2. Is the information that is readily available to the general public (the media) an accurate portrayal of the disorder?
  • Does the information in the media perpetuate any stigmas against the chosen psychological disorder? (Hint: it probably does so make sure you are being specific in discussing this).
  1. What impacts (both positive and negative) do you think this has on us individually AND on society as a whole?
  1. References
    • You must use at least three different sources in your presentation. You must include a list of references in proper APA format for all sources that you used. Your textbook and the movie/tv show you watch are already two sources – so you just need one more academic source!
    • Please make sure your additional sources are from academic, peer-reviewed books and research articles. A Buzzfeed article or Wikipedia is not going to cut it.
    • If you chose to do a video presentation, please submit a paper copy of your references alongside the video.


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