Acting: The Tool for Mental Health (pt. 1)


| PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 |


Acting Is Unpredictable

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Watch the classic film, East of Eden, and skip to the scenes where James Dean cries. “Oh,” you wonder, “Is he really crying?” James Dean is genuinely crying in those scenes because Elia Kazan, the director, taunted him with his unresolved relationship with his father (Schreiber).

Alas, acting is cruel and unpredictable. For instance, you can be the greatest actor and never get a role. Your ego is constantly being torn to shreds by casting directors, and your mind is stressed by overwhelming characters. Therefore, it is important to use acting as a tool for health when needing recuperation. Fresh actors are oblivious to the unpredictability in the acting world. Although pop culture journalists believe that acting leads to an unhealthy lifestyle, drama programs within schools should integrate classes for actors focused on teaching the psychological benefits of acting. 

The Popular Opinion

Pop culture journalists argue that acting can be unhealthy. A thought formulated by pop culture journalists is people who act seem to be egotistical beings who become their characters and forget who they are. This behavior is then argued to affect the actors’ colleagues, families, and friends. Marco Cerritos, a pop culture blogger who wrote for FirstShowing.net, wrote an interesting piece on the perception of method actors.

According to Cerritos, Jim Carey, actor and comedian, was acting despicably on set for his movie, Man on the Moon, ordering people to call him by his character’s name. His behavior could have been avoided. Jim Carrey didn’t attend any drama school, but he auditioned for Saturday Night Live and was cast in many comedic films which require an intense amount of energy. Additionally, Carrey has battled depression; proving that without an acting class focused on the psychological benefits of the profession, he did not have a way of releasing tension.

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Another experience Cerritos mentioned was Dustin Hoffman filming one of his films, Marathon Man, in 1976. Apparently, Hoffman did not sleep for three days straight during the filming because he wanted to feel what his character dealt with. He eventually came onto the set, tired and sweating. A great actor, Laurence Olivier, who was part of the film, said, “Why not just try acting, dear boy?” Olivier implied that what he was doing—becoming a character by torturing oneself—was not acting and looked down upon. Ultimately, Hoffman, losing sleep and indulging in other unhealthy tactics, could have led him down the road of serious consequences. Harvard professionals argue that insufficient sleep can cause mood disorders, excess consumption of alcohol, and other serious mental health problems.

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These examples are heavy opinions created by people (or journalists, in this case) who were 1. not there; 2. unaware of the serious accusations they were making. For instance, Dustin Hoffman worked at a mental institution before acting. He was exposed to the realness of mental disabilities. He taught himself how to act by observing the methods of dealing with one’s emotions. However, journalists do not recognize or mention this. It is important, essentially, to acknowledge these points of views. These views can infiltrate the minds of young actors. For example, when I was a sophomore in high school, I wanted to perform the way Dustin Hoffman performed. I ended up realizing that I was not in tune with my emotions the way he is.

Journalists, instead of demonizing the dedication actors apply to their work, should praise the actors’ dedication and remind their own audience that what some actors do requires psychological and mental health training. Ultimately, true or not, actors should not practice the examples mentioned above without mental health training and instead set mental health as their first priority. With psychologically-healthy acting classes, mental stability can be met. Therefore, drama schools/programs should begin adding acting classes focused on mental health to avoid or alleviate situations like Carrey’s and Hoffman’s.


| PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 |


Works Cited:

Schreiber, Terry. “Acting as a ‘Sane Obsession’.” Back Stage East. 47.41 (2006): 7-7.

      Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

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