Primary Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2000;2(4):145-149
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Although much research has documented both the effects of
television viewing on children and the ways mental illness is
depicted in the media, no published study had investigated the
portrayal of mental illness in television programs aimed at children.
The authors sought to determine if and how mental illness
is presented in children’s television by sampling 1 week’s offering
of television programs targeted at children aged 10 years
and younger (57 hours, 50 minutes; 128 episodes comprising
69 cartoon animations, 12 noncartoon animations, and 47 liveaction
shows). Television episodes were viewed repeatedly, first
to identify references to mental illness and then to discern and
analyze linguistic, semiotic, and rhetorical patterns in the references.
Nearly half of the episodes (59/128; 46%) contained at
least one reference to mental illness, and cartoon episodes were
significantly more likely than other episode types to include
such references (c2 = 17.1, df = 2, p < .05). “Crazy” (28 occurrences),