CAMH psychiatrist reviews Silver Linings Playbook (unmoved by its lighter side)

A word of explanation. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is the facility in Toronto where Chris began his ordeal as a psychiatric patient in 2003. The place where we began to lose all hope.

Here’s why. TVO’s Inside Agenda blog recently rounded up CAMH psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Sokolov to review the film Silver Linings Playbook. Sokolov is predictably a voice of doom and gloom when it comes to “mental illness.” Abandon all hope, ye who enter CAMH! Family members, included.

Although Dr. Sokolov wasn’t one of the psychiatrists who saw Chris, his attitude is typical of the ones who did. Doctors who, no doubt meant well, but who kept the discussion clinical, which is alienating for patients and families. Imagine dealing with Sokolov when your “loved one” has been admitted to CAMH for the first time. He’ll dash any faint hopes you might be harboring. If you are lucky, perhaps you will find the reserves within you to reject the psychiatrist’s self-serving view of mental illness as a “treatable” disease, but it’ll probably take years to undo the damage.

From Sokolov’s review:

“The next day, we see Solitano taking his medications. The markings on the pills are clearly visible on screen as lithium 150 mg and Seroquel™ 100 mg — both, I must say, at subtherapeutic dose.”


“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen light treatment in film of a tragic subject (the obnoxious “Life is Beautiful” comes to mind).”


“In my opinion, the result is a trivialization of these serious conditions and the damage they inflict on people’s families, careers and, for too many, their lives, especially for the not unsubstantial number who commit suicide. The implicit theme in “Silver Linings Playbook,” true to the romantic comedy format, is: “Take your medicine, and you’ll get the girl.” I can’t help feel in part that this disingenuous and simplistic message dishonours many of those people who I’ve seen struggle with this terrible but treatable disease.

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