Title of the TV show that I am writing an article about

Ratched - Why it is Detrimental to the Mental Health Community

* Warning: Spoilers*

If you have Netflix, you may have seen or heard of the newer TV show called Ratched that came out in September 2020. The release of this new TV show excited a lot of American Horror Story fans (myself included) because it is produced by the same writer, Ryan Murphy. I have always enjoyed the American Horror Story series since I tend to like eerie, dark, psychological thrillers that have deep meanings. It is also based around a character from one of my all-time favorite books, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, so I was even more intrigued with this new TV show. 

The main character is known as Mildred Ratched, or, "Nurse Ratched." At the beginning of the show, she is seen trying to get a job at a psychiatric hospital. This certain hospital is housing a serial killer who killed four priests. He is to undergo a psychological evaluation by the doctor there to see if he is fit for trial or not. Ratched becomes employed at this hospital, and the viewers are introduced to several different characters whether they be nurses or patients. 

When I started the show, it gave me a lot of the same feelings that American Horror Story did. The characters were well-built, the visuals were amazing, and it had a familiar captivating and dark undertone. I continued watching the series with my boyfriend, and it got to the point where we were watching the episodes back-to-back because we were so invested. The storyline was interesting and the characters continued to develop and deepen the story even further. 

Then, the show introduced the character named Charlotte Wells and I became extremely displeased. Charlotte came to the hospital as a patient, and at first, I was very confused with her character. She came to see Dr. Hanover, the doctor in charge of the hospital, claiming something was psychologically wrong with her. Charlotte seemed to think she was different people. As in, she sometimes thought she was an Olympic medalist, a famous musician, and at one point she thinks she is Dr. Hanover. I was already vexed by the introduction of her character and her "problems," but when she diagnosed with "multiple personality disorder" I was just flat out angry. 

A picture of a character of a popular TV show that I will be talking about in my article. Netflix "Multiple personality disorder" is now called dissociative identity disorder (DID), as it was changed in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1994. While I know that this TV show is set about forty years before the 90s, the disorder that they are trying to portray is extremely misrepresented. Those with DID do not take on "personalities" or "identities" that already exist in other people. This is not the movie Identity Thief. Those who are diagnosed with this disorder form alters, usually at a young age, that are used to protect the individual and the mind from constantly being exposed to trauma. These individuals dissociate in order to protect themselves from harm or from perceived threats. Although the writers did give a "traumatic backstory" to this character, they painted the disorder in a completely false manner. 

It is later hinted that Charlotte may take on the personalities of the victims that she kills. This can be seen after she murders Dr. Hanover and then thinks she is him. This is unbelievably incorrect, and it angers me that the media yet again portrays someone with a mental illness as hostile, violent, and dangerous. This is so detrimental because someone with no accurate knowledge of this disorder may think that those with DID behave this way and they will start to believe information about the disorder that is untrue. 

It sends an even worse message when Charlotte kills a very likable character named Huck. This causes the viewers to have strong negative feelings towards Charlotte, and it puts them at risk for having strong negative feelings towards those with DID. It is very dividing and again, places a false representation of this disorder in the viewers' minds. 

An image of a character from the TV show Ratched that I am writing an article about. Netflix

This depiction of DID is unnecessary, offensive, and damaging to the mental health community. Not enough is known by the public about a wide variety of mental illnesses due to the false representation in the media. I find it highly offensive that many mental illnesses are exaggerated or falsely depicted for entertainment purposes, and it boggles my mind that we have come all this way and we are still doing this in TV shows, movies, and books. This also includes schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and more. The majority of those with dissociative identity disorder are not dangerous or violent, just like the majority of the population is not dangerous or violent. They are not automatically serial killers or terrible people. They are individuals who have suffered through extreme trauma and are trying to make sense of it. 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the series and think the woman who plays Charlotte is an outstanding actress. I'm just waiting for the day when the media will finally stop using false or exaggerated depictions of mental illness for their "entertainment." 

DID is such a complex disorder and can be extremely debilitating. I am discouraged to see such a recent TV show make the same mistakes. We need more awareness, not more TV shows associating mental illness with being a serial killer. 

HCXO, 

Kasidy