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Jakarta Post

ROBERT LEMELSON: Filming mental illness

  • Mary Baines

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, February 18 2013   /  11:47 am

ROBERT LEMELSON. Courtesy of Robert Lemelson American anthropologist Robert Lemelson has spent the last 20 years documenting the lives of the mentally ill in Indonesia through films — the first person to do so in the developing world.

One of the few documentary filmmakers to explore psychiatric conditions in a non-Western context, Lemelson has made over a dozen films in Indonesia. He has focused on issues of diagnosis; care and treatment; and the impact of culture, family and community on the recovery of the mentally ill.

He said mental illness was a topic not spoken about openly in many parts of the world due to a lack of understanding, fear and shame of what it is and how it affects individuals and their families.

“Mental illness is one of the most devastating experiences known to humanity, and it has a profound effect on society in terms of lost productivity, ...