Bipolar Disorder in Homeland

By Miranda Botti

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, often shows its troubled face in Hollywood. The vast majority of the time, however, the character who wields this troubling disorder is shown through a very negative light. Certainly, bipolar disorder is a very difficult mental illness to possess, however, those afflicted can still be great individuals who do great things. One Hollywood character, Carrie Mathison from Homeland, deals with intense and at times debilitating bipolar disorder, but, is at the very top of her field. Carrie works as a CIA agent, consistently solving the toughest of cases and working to recruit new assets. Carrie is the cinematic proof that our society needs to move past the idea that bipolar disorder prevents you from achieving greatness.

Although Carrie Mathison is an incredibly gifted individual who works as one of the United States’ top spies, her bipolar disorder is very real and the show keeps it as so. She is impulsive, at times irrational, and when she is off her lithium medication, her mind races and she speaks somewhat incoherently, being the only one able to decipher what she says. When her mania dissipates and the depression kicks in, she is bed ridden for days, unable to break through the dark shadow that hangs over her. Carrie’s episodes are very realistic and provide a great example of what it is like to live with bipolar disorder. For this, Carrie is the perfect representation of a highly intelligent, successful individual that, despite her mental health issues, continues to contribute to society. This is a message that should be spread throughout Hollywood. For many, art imitates life, and to a large extent that is true. However, representing individuals afflicted with mental illnesses as inept, violent, and dangerous is not only extremely inaccurate, but also unfair. People with mental illness should be portrayed not only because of their mental illnesses but also because of their positive qualities. As Carrie Mathison, and thousands of people every day prove, mental illness does not totally define anyone nor does it stop anyone from making a meaningful impact or from being a positive, influential person. I hope to see more characters like Carrie Mathison in Hollywood’s future, accurately portraying mental health issues.

 If you or someone you know is suffering from Bipolar disorder, contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit



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