Reviews Film

Asylum

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7516.581-a (Published 08 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:581
  1. Peter Byrne, senior lecturer (p.byrne@ucl.ac.uk)
  1. department of mental health sciences, University College London

    Directed by David Mackenzie UK release date: 9 September www.paramountclassics.com/asylum/

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    There are many reasons to dislike Asylum. It is dark, with a plot driven by a cruel “what's the worst that can happen” logic, and not one character is better off by the end of the film. From a mental health perspective, it has every negative cliché: treatment is coercive and useless, people who have been ill can only pretend to get better, and mental illness makes violence to self and others inevitable. While it makes no claims to docudrama, its representations of 1950s forensic psychiatry acquire their own reality, and spectators will have their worst negative stereotypes confirmed.

    Its grim plot is also familiar: the bored wife of one of the …

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