From the Huffington Post (SPOILERS ALERT):
Alex Forrest is considered by most people to be evil incarnate. People still come up to me saying how much she terrified them. Yet in my research into her behavior, I only ended up empathizing with her. She was a human being in great psychological pain who definitely needed meds. I consulted with several psychiatrists to better understand the "whys" of what she did and learned that she was far more dangerous to herself than to others.
The original ending of Fatal Attraction actually had Alex commit suicide. But that didn't "test" well. Alex had terrified the audiences and they wanted her punished for it. A tortured and self-destructive Alex was too upsetting. She had to be blown away.
So, we went back and shot the now famous bathroom scene. A knife was put into Alex's hand, making her a dangerous psychopath. When the wife shot her in self-defense, the audience was given catharsis through bloodshed -- Alex's blood. And everyone felt safe again.
The ending worked. It was thrilling and the movie was a big hit. But it sent a misleading message about the reality of mental illness.
While I agree with Ms. Close that mental illness needs to be treated with a lot less stigma and disdain than it currently is often confronted with, one has to be careful talking about mental illness so as not to take on a victim mentality or assign victimhood to the inflicted. Someone with a victim mentality tends to assign faults to the world and looks elsewhere for the locus of control and responsibility. Victimhood infantilizes people in many cases, rendering them helpless in the face of threats or triggers.
As a proponent of strength-based therapy, I am much more inclined to seek people's existing strengths and defense, to facilitate their mastering of their world, or at the very least, their functioning in that world. Many times, it requires advocacy on their behalf, but never with the assumption that they're too helpless to help themselves. For certain, mental illness is a condition of being that needs to be acknowledged and cared for. However, in many cases (there's a huge range of function in the mental illness spectrum), it is neither a pass nor a badge for one to wave personal effects. If talking about the sufferings of mental illness is all one does, it amounts to no more than the absolution of personal efficacy and propagation of helplessness, which in turn may negate any personal strengths and resiliency people have already at their disposal. I am weary of a society being cushioned and catered at every turn, one in which 'dust yourself up and try again' is mere wishful thinking. Triggers are used as ways to avoid adapting to and mastering their own environment. There's nothing more defeating than a bunch of flailing individuals waiting to be baby-fed.
Most people don't suffer at every turn of misfortune, even when the conditions are ripe for triggers. It should not be assumed that those with a mental illness do not have any ounce of resiliency most people possess. There's something to be said for self-fulfilling prophecy, too - expect people to be able to resource themselves for the better, and they may just do that. I'm not saying we should just let people sink or swim; we are dependent on each other for survival, and those with mental illness need proper care and respect. It's just that victimhood is no help at all.
These are just a few words of caution though, not a slap back to Ms. Close's well-intentioned message, which everyone should take heed to. Clearly, she is just as concerned with how we talk about mental illness as she is with what we talk about. The more we talk, the more we understand the conditions we deal with and hopefully the more creative we get with our approaches to treating it.