Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity is a two-part documentary published in March 2015 by the BBC.
The documentary is about those who are cleared of criminal charges due to reasons of insanity by court. The episodes are an hour long each, during which you meet several patients and follow their stories.
Louis Theroux explores the world behind Ohio’s mental health hospital where people go when they are not deemed sane enough for trial.
The documentary was very interesting while also a bit chilling at times. The stories of individuals were explored and from a psychology point of view it was very interesting to see how different each patient and their symptoms were, even under the same diagnosis.
Being a sufferer of mental health issues myself, I was nervous about watching this documentary. I am relieved to say it hasn’t made me feel any worse about my mental health- I enjoy exploring mental health in a wider context than just my diagnosis, so seeing these people who have committed extreme cases of violence due to a mental illness was particularly interesting but also heartbreaking. I feel I can relate to some of them especially with their depression, although I personally do not have delusions. I think programmes like this raising awareness of mental health conditions to the general population are so important, so I really valued the chance to watch it.
I did find on a few occasions I wasn’t sure of what Theroux had said and whether it was appropriate/ thought it might be unnecessarily upsetting, such as saying to one patient that he wanted him to feel more guilty/express more emotion when clearly the patient struggled with emotional difficulties and therefore it wasn’t his fault and was also a sensitive topic. I found one of the parents shocking, calling her son a ‘nut’ for having schizophrenia, but I guess this is how people behave in real life- sad, but true.
Anyway, overall it was a great documentary and I would recommend it to both those suffering with mental health issues and others.
Thanks for reading.