I realize this Vulture slideshow rating various “crazy” things in popular culture is meant mostly as a joke, but I think it’s an interesting illustration of the tension between actual mental illness and loss of control that people find exciting, or sexy, or impressive for some reason. Actual mental illness is profoundly unsexy, and un-fun. It’s usually only fodder for popular culture if the person who has it is either a genius or talented in some way that makes their descent into illness tragic, or if they’re able to overcome it in some way that reduces mental illness to another movie obstacle; or if it’s the genesis for the creation of a super-villain, in which case it never really gets investigated because we’re never as interested in the origin stories for villains as they are for heroes.
I’m totalizing, of course. There are a lot of movies out there about many kinds of mental illness (I am highly entertained that the second two Lord of the Rings movies are listed under dissociative disorder). But I think it’s fascinating that “crazy,” which is, of course, is a colloquial rather than clinical term for mental illness, shows up so often in popular culture. Perhaps using that word, pop culture lets us engage with the idea of losing control without forcing us to grapple with the actual consequences of permanent loss. It’s a way out, a dodge. I’m not sure I think it’s dangerous or generally obscuring. But I do think it’s interesting.