12 Angry Men
Drama    Year:  1957    Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Henry Fonda, John Fiedler
Topics:  Social, Moral Development
If you had to pick one movie to consider group conformity, persuasion, moral development, this is it. Based on the play, the film is shot entirely within the jury room, as the 12 men deliberate a murder case. Even my students were so caught up in the dialogue and story that they did not mind the lack of color or special effects. The film also lends itself to consideration of leadership characteristics, as discussed in my article.

Genre:  Comedy/Drama    Year:  2002    Rating:  R
Actors:  Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Mood Disorder
Nicholas Cage plays identical twin brothers with very different personalities. The protagonist, Charlie, is a screenwriter with writer’s block. He also has great difficulty in social interactions. Consider the diagnostic criteria for Avoidant Personality Disorder as you watch this. The voiceovers of his internal dialogue are great. The ending is disappointing, but the movie is entertaining throughout. Both Charlie and Meryl Streep’s character have negative moods. Diagnostic considerations?

All About Eve 
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1950    Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Bette Davis, Ann Baxter, George Sanders
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Marital/Family Dynamics
Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Writing and more. A classic movie. Pay close attention to Eve through the film. Also, what about Margo’s personality? Is the ending realistic? If Eve were in treatment in the midst of her turmoil, how would you have treated her?

Genre:  Comedy      Year:  2001      Rating:  R
Actors:  Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Marital/Family Dysfunction
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. In French with English subtitles. It is a charming, romantic comedy, the story of an odd young girl who grows up to be introverted and socially anxious. The colors are amazing throughout the movie, intentionally enhanced in different scenes. Consider Schizotypal Personality Disorder criteria for Amelie, as well as Social Phobia/Avoidant Personality Disorder. 

An Angel at My Table
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1990    Rating:  R
Actors:  Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Personality Disorder, Mood Disorders, Stress and Coping
Autobiography of a New Zealand poet who was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and spent 8 years in a mental hospital. Disturbing portrayals of treatment at the time – ECT, start of leucotomies. Consider her personality issues – Avoidant? Social Phobia? Another case where art, in this case writing, allows her to tolerate the traumas of her life.

Analyze This
Genre:  Comedy    Year:  1999    Rating:  R
Actors:  Robert DeNiro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Anxiety Disorder
I really liked this movie. The portrayal of mixed anxiety and depression (delayed onset PTSD?) is terrific. Unfortunately, the movie also demonstrates how not to be an ethical psychiatrist (can you count the number of ways that he violates confidentiality?), but he still is effective (if you believe in the therapeutic miracle of sudden insight). The best character in the movie is the loyal goon, Jelly.  He was great. See this one.

Antwone Fisher
Genre:  Drama    Year:  2002    Rating:  R
Actors:  Denzel Washington, Derek Luke, Joy Bryant
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Stress and Coping
Excellent film. Military psychiatrist treats navyman with apparent impulse control problems, as well  as other underlying issues.  Based on a true story.  Lots of material to analyze – ethical issues in treatment? Influence of childhood traumas? Magical cure at end?

As Good As It Gets
Genre:  Drama/Comedy    Year:  1997    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Jack Nicholson, Greg Kinnear, Helen Hunt
Topics:  Psychopathology, OCD, Personality Disorder, Social
Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Actress. Jack Nicholson with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, as well as plenty of Axis II. Also addresses bias (homophobia) and attitude change. Really great movie.

Aviator, The
Genre:  Drama    Year:  2005    Rating:  R
Actors:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale
Topics:  Psychopathology, OCD, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective
Academy Award winner for Best Supporting actress and other accomplishments (cinematography, etc.).  Excellent movie. There is much room for diagnosis debate – clear OCD symptoms early on, but what about paranoia? Manic-type symptoms? Personality considerations? Be sure to also watch the special features segment on OCD.

Genre:  Drama    Year:  1990    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Robin Williams, Robert DeNiro, Julie Kavner
Topics:  Psychopathology, Neuropsychology, Treatment
Wonderful movie. Based on Oliver Sacks’ clinical cases. L-dopa’s effects on encephalitis lethargica.  Interesting glimpse inside a mental hospital in the 1960s. Why do you think paranoia/psychosis developed after prolonged L-dopa treatment? Neuronal supersensitivity? And what about Dr. Sacks’ interpersonal anxieties – social phobia? Asperger’s?

Beautiful Mind, A
Genre:  Drama    Year:  2001    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Schizophrenia, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress. Russell Crowe portrays Nash, a brilliant mathematician. There is a major plot twist – stop reading here if you don’t want it spoiled…We learn that we are misled – situations and characters turn out to be portrayals of Nash’s delusional thinking and hallucinations. We see him spiral downward in the throws of his psychotic thinking or the side effects of his medications. What do you think about the suggestion that he was able to self-challenge the reality of the hallucinations, as at the end of the movie? What do you think this movie did for public perception of schizophrenia? If you really want to know his story, read the book – not an easy read, mind you, but with plenty more information missing from the Hollywood version…

Genre:  Drama    Year:  1946    Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, Billy House
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Moral Development
This is a classic portrayal of the famous English asylum, Bedlam, in the late 1700s.  This was a time when the rich would pay admission to “view the loonies” and those who were mentally ill, or were political enemies, would be locked away in cages or a dungeon.  Younger viewers who may not know the great Boris Karloff as an actor, might recognize his voice – at least those who are fans of the classic animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Benny & Joon
Genre:  Drama/Comedy    Year:  1993    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn
Topics:  Psychopathology, Schizophrenia, Personality Disorder, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
Early movie with Johnny Depp who develops a relationship with young woman who is schizophrenic. Diagnostic considerations for Depp’s character? Good portrayal of stresses on family, as Joon’s brother devotes himself to her care.  Depp performs a great impression of Charlie Chaplin’s famous “rolls on forks” routine. Cute movie.

Breakfast Club, The 
Genre:  Comedy/Drama    Year:  1985    Rating:  R
Actors:  Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson
Topics:  Developmental, Social
Although over a quarter of a century old now, this movie has become a cult favorite and still is relevant today. Five students are sentenced to Saturday detention in the school library. Each represents a different stereotype: jock, brain, criminal, basketcase, princess. A fun film, yet still addresses concepts of conformity and bias.

Breaking the Waves
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1996    Rating:  R
Actors:  Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgaard, Katrin Cartlidge
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Marital/Family Dynamics
Powerful movie about a simple Scottish young woman who marries a Scandinavian oil rigger. He makes a very unusual request of her; was he in his “right mind” when he did? What personality disorder is most likely for her?

Caine Mutiny, The
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1954    Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Treatment, Social, Moral Development, Forensic
I love this movie. Great cast, with Humphrey Bogart as the captain who begins to unravel under stress. You’ll never eat frozen strawberries again without thinking of this movie!  What do you think about the lawyer’s accusations at the end, would things have been different if they supported the captain, made accommodations for his deficiencies?   If you want more resolution at the end, read the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, on which the film was based.

Captain Newman, M.D. 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy    Year:  1963    Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Gregory Peck, Tony Curtis, Angie Dickinson
Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Treatment, Stress and Coping
Great older movie with Gregory Peck as the military psychologist during WW II. Interesting portrayal of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its treatment. Highly recommended, but hard to find.

Clean, Shaven 
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1994    Rating:  R (NR)
Actors:  Peter Greene, Alice Levitt, Megan Owen
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Social, Forensic
This accurate and graphic film depicts life through the eyes of an untreated paranoid schizophrenic searching for his daughter. It does contain some short footage which many may find difficult to watch, but is in keeping with the presentation of psychosis. I found that looking away during these moments did not alter my appreciation of the film. This is one of those odd, independent films which one must “figure out” as it goes along. High on symbolism – be sure to notice the mother’s clothing in relation to the setting around her. I find that this film demonstrates beautifully the communication deficits often present in these families – the mother character suggests the now disproved “schizophrenogenic mother” theory, or may be consistent with a strong genetic component to schizophrenia.  The depiction of perceptual illusions/hallucinations is very well done. A short film, but one which truly gives a sense of the world view and experiences of a schizophrenic.

Genre:  Drama    Year:  2004    Rating:  R
Actors:  Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Ludacris
Topics:  Social, Moral Development, Marital/Family Dynamics
Academy Award winner for Best Picture.  This is a MUST SEE for anyone interested in multicultural issues. Virtually every character demonstrates susceptibility to bias, reliance on stereotypes. It’s a major tearjerker at times, so be prepared!

Genre:  Documentary    Year:  1994    Rating:  R
Actors:  Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
WOW – a GOLDMINE of material for psychological analysis, and all true! Story of Robert Crumb, famous cartoonist, and his oddities (rising to the level of diagnosis?) and dysfunctional family history. Meeting his brothers and mother is so revealing. So much overlap among the brothers, yet each with his own particular difficulties and psychopathologies, yet all artistic and clearly brilliant. The brother Charles is the most endearing. The film hints at what may have been the root of Charles’ depression and suicide attempts. Do you see it?

Don’t Bother to Knock 
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1952    Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Marilyn Monroe, Richard Widmark, Anne Bancroft
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Personality Disorders
This is not a well-known film and was not a critics’ favorite; however, I enjoyed it and believe that in its short 76 minutes it gives plenty of material to digest.  Marilyn Monroe plays a young girl hired for the first time to babysit a child at a hotel, as recommended by her uncle, the elevator operator.  As the movie progresses, we learn that she was recently released from a mental institution, “almost cured,” almost being the operative word.  I enjoyed the movie  and Monroe’s performance.  Consider suggestions of her childhood experiences, the concept of diathesis-stress in the onset of  psychopathology, and the possible personality disorder present.

Ed Wood 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy    Year:  1994    Rating:  R
Actors:  Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Social
Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor.  Johnny Depp as the quirky movie maker – and transvestite.  His friends also have their share of psychopathology. Allows for exploration of friendships, group dynamics. Cute film.

Enduring Love 
Genre:  Drama    Year:  2004    Rating:  R
Actors:  Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
This film, based on Ian McEwan’s novel, has one of the most unique opening scenes. Through a chance event, a strange man develops the delusional belief (erotomania) that he has a romantic relationship with a male college professor, who, ironically, lectures on the sociobiology of love. The professor suffers from acute post traumatic stress disorder, coupled with the anxiety of being stalked.  See my article on the topic for more information.

Fatal Attraction 
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1987   Rating:  R
Actors:  Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
A film which demonstrates why flings can be dangerous. Glenn Close as the spurned “flingee.” Get out the Borderline Personality Disorder criteria…

Fear Strikes Out 
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1957      Rating:  NR-PG-13 
Actors:  Anthony Perkins, Karl Malden 
Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics, Sport Psychology
This movie is based on the true story of baseball player Jim Piersall. From boyhood, Jim’s father was training him to play for the Boston Red Sox. The father is the classic good-hearted, well-intentioned parent who becomes oppressive. Jim experiences significant cognitive dissonance when confronted with his own wants and desires which conflict with those of his father. His need to earn his father’s approval leads him to a breakdown, marked by panic attacks, severe anxiety, psychosis, severe depression, and catatonia. The portrayal of his mental health treatment is one of the best and most accurate. Here is a film which fights against the stigma of mental illness.

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1993     Rating:  R
Actors:  Jeff Bridges, Isabella Rosselini, Rosie Perez
Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
Very powerful, have plenty of tissues handy (particularly if you are a parent). The film effectively illustrates how people can have very different reactions to the same traumatic experience, in this case a plane crash. Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez are great.

Fisher King, The 
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1991      Rating:  R
Actors:  Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Mood Disorders, Stress and Coping, Social
Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress.  A suicidal radio DJ (Jeff Bridges) meets up with a deranged street person (Robin Williams) who catches him up in his psychosis – folie a deux? Also their relationship seems to bring salvation for both. Interesting film.

Genre:  Drama      Year:  1972     Rating:  R
Actors:  Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, Barry Foster
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Personality Disorders, Stress and Coping
A classic Hitchcock story full of suspense, dotted with humor (I love the chief inspector’s wife), and with a smattering of psychoanalytical explanations thrown in. Another one to pair with Frontline’s Mind of a Murderer, the true story of the Hillside Strangler.

Genre:  Drama      Year:  1944      Rating: NR-PG-13
Actors:  Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Stress and Coping
Academy Award winner for Best Actress. A great movie! How a woman can come to believe that she’s crazy, when she isn’t!

Girl, Interrupted 
Genre:  Drama      Year: 1999      Rating:  R
Actors:  Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Personality Disorders, Treatment
Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress. I really enjoyed this movie! I suspect that the “Borderline” diagnosis given to Susanna more appropriately refers to her psychotic depression, with the former use of the term referring to the zone between neurosis and psychosis, i.e., on the “borderline” of psychosis. “Lisa” demonstrates a good manic, and seems more of today’s “Borderline Personality Disorder” than the movie’s Antisocial Personality Disorder diagnosis. What do you think?

Gone with the Wind 
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1939      Rating:   NR-PG
Actors:  Vivian Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Marital/Family
DynamicsAcademy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress. A woman coping with life during the Civil War. A classic. Scarlett’s diagnosis? Histrionic? Borderline? Antisocial? Consider her behavior in light of the culture of the time. My favorite line in the movie, “Askin’ ain’t gettin’.”

Genre:  Comedy      Year:  1950      Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Substance Use Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress. Classic comedy with Jimmy Stewart hallucinating (?) a six-foot rabbit named Harvey. Consider the portrayal of psychiatry and the mental asylum and the apparent ease with which one seemed to be able to commit a person. Also, one might think Harvey was a result of too much alcohol, but do we actually see Jimmy Stewart ever drink? Hmmm. My favorite lines are Elwood’s quoting his mother: “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh-so-smart or oh-so-pleasant,” and his conclusion, “Well, for years I was smart; I recommend pleasant.” Is it a personality disorder to be too nice, too polite? Ah, if we all were so afflicted! Parallels with Peter Sellers in “Being There” and Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump?”

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (A la folie…pas du tout) 
Genre:  Drama      Year:  2002      Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Audrey Tautou, Samuel Le Bihan
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
In French with English subtitles. A young art student is having an affair with a married cardiologist whose wife is pregnant. She becomes suicidal when it is apparent that he is not going to leave the wife. Seems like a classic tale, until the second half of the movie, when the film rewinds and we see all the same events from the doctor’s perspective.. This is the case of a delusional disorder subtype. See my article on the topic for more information. Very entertaining.

Hours, The 
Genre:  Drama      Year:  2002      Rating:  R
Actors:  Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Marital/Family Dysfunction, Developmental, Stress and Coping
Academy Award winner for Best Actress (Nicole Kidman). One of the best portrayals of the painful depths and hopelessness of depression and its effects on others. Nicole Kidman portrays Virginia Woolf, who is writing the novel Mrs. Dalloway, while another woman is reading the book in the 1950s, and a third present day woman is living it. All three lives have parallels of depression and suicide. Fantastic portrayal of the impact of depression on family members and the power of endogenous depression. What motivates the suicides portrayed in the film? See my article on the topic.

House of Yes 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy      Year:  1997      Rating: R
Actors:  Parker Posey, Josh Hamilton, Tori Spelling
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Personality Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
I loved this movie. Absolutely great, quick dialogue. A young man brings his fiancé home to meet his family – we learn that she is the very first house guest and it is clear why. The young man’s twin sister believes she is Jackie O and there is a family tradition of reenacting the Kennedy assassination (with ketchup and pasta – until this night), as well as other family secrets

Genre:  Drama      Year:  2003      Rating:  R
Actors:  John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet
Topics:  Psychopathology, Dissociative Disorders, Forensic
A fast moving thriller with a major psychological twist. Another one to watch twice, much like “Fight Club.” Once you know what’s going on, how accurate do you think the portrayal is? Does it perpetuate mental health stigma? Interesting portrayal of a forensic mental health hearing.

Genre:  Comedy/Drama     Year:  2007     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Ellen Page, Michael Cera
Topics:  Developmental, Marital/Family Dynamics
Highly enjoyable film chronically  a pregnant teen girl’s quest to find a couple to adopt her child. The dialogue is clever and quirky, earning it an Academy Award for original screenplay. Allows for exploration of various reactions to teen pregnancy.

Kids are All Right, The 
Genre:  Comedy/Drama     Year:  2010     Rating:  R
Actors:  Annette Benning, Julianne Moore
Topics:  Marital/Family Dynamics, Social, Stress and Coping
This is a wonderful movie dealing with contemporary issues. A lesbian couple has raised two well-adjusted children, each born by artificial insemination from the same donor. The family dynamics and the way conflict is addressed by the couple and the family as a whole is one of the best, healthiest, portrayals in film. It has been nominated for multiple Academy Awards and appropriately so.

Kitchen Stories 
Genre:  Comedy/Drama   Year: 2003    Rating: PG
Actors:  Joachim Calmeyer, Tomas Nordstrom
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Social, Developmental
In Norwegian with English subtitles. This film is based on the real studies conducted in Sweden on how best to modernize the kitchen by studying housewive’s kitchen activities. Today, we would think of this as Human Factors Psychology. This movie is a twist, with rural Norwegian bachelors being the research subjects. The “observer” sits in a tall chair (akin to a tennis judge’s) and is to watch and take notes only, and not interact with the subject. Of course, this artificial setting cannot last. The film deals with research methods, male friendships, and identity development. A truly different, endearing, and at times laugh out loud funny movie.

Genre:  Drama     Year:  2001     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Mary McCormack
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment
An enjoyable movie about a man admitted to a psychiatric facility and a dedicated psychiatrist. Too dedicated? At what point are boundaries crossed? What is your interpretation of the ending? If he was not an alien, what would the proper diagnosis be? How does this support the diathesis-stress model? Great portrayal of the relationships among patients.

Lars and the Real Girl 
Genre:  Comedy/Drama      Year:  2007      Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Kelli Garner
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics, Social
I thoroughly LOVE this movie. Lars is an office worker in a small time. He’s an odd, reclusive guy, but nice and harmless. Exposed to the concept of a “mail order doll” (anatomically correct) by a co-worker, he orders a doll, not for sexual reasons, but as part of a delusional system. Lars introduces her as his foreign girlfriend, who is in a wheelchair. The resulting responses from his family and community, as well as the very empathetic physician, make this a “feel good” movie. One can only hope that this sort of film could destigmatize mental illness and model supportive family and community response. It “takes a village” to treat mental illness.

Genre:  Drama    Year:  1944    Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix 
Topics:  Social
I love Hitchcock movies and this is a great one. The movie takes place on a lifeboat during World War II after a passenger ship was torpedoed by a German vessel, which also then sank. There are multiple Social Psychology concepts at play – prejudice, attitude change, conformity, etc., particularly when a German officer is one of the survivors pulled into the lifeboat.

Genre:  Drama      Year:  1964      Rating:  NR-PG-13 
Actors:  Warren Beatty, Jean Seberg, Peter O’Toole 
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Personality Disorders, Treatment
Interesting somewhat over-the-top movie portraying an upscale mental hospital. Contains one of the most stigmatizing, and incorrect, explanations of schizophrenia.

Little Miss Sunshine 
Genre:  Comedy/Drama    Year:  2006      Rating:  R
Actors:  Steve Carrell, Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear 
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Developmental, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
This is a fantastic, quirky movie full of material and comedic moments. There is the brother, Steve Carrell, who is recently released from a psychiatric facility after making a suicide attempt, the teen son who has selective mutism, the narcissistic father, the disinhibited grandfather, the mother who tries to keep it all together, and the girl who miraculously floats through this chaos, demonstrating remarkable optimism and coping. Despite seeming dysfunction, this family works; they come through for each other at just the right moments.

Madness of King George, The 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy     Year:  1994     Rating:  R 
Actors:  Nigel Hawthorne, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm 
Topics:  Neuropsychology/Medical Disorders
A great movie. Based on true story of King George of England. Psychosis caused by a metabolic disorder (porphyria). Look out if you start peeing blue!


Magnificent Seven, The 
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1960    Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach
Topics:  Moral Development, Social
This is the classic Western remake of Seven Samurai. It is the simple story of a group of cowboys gathered together to protect a Mexican village from a raiding bandit. Each cowboy has his own motivations (allowing for exploration of level of Moral Development). The film also explores bias, conformity, attitude change. My students were suprised at how much they liked it, given its age and that it was a Western (which many students had never seen before). It is long, but the soundtrack helps it be particularly enjoyable. A remake starring Chris Pratt is in the works.

Genre:  Drama      Year:  1964      Rating:   NR-PG
Actors:  Tippi Hedron, Sean Connery, Diane Baker
Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
There is much to this movie. It exemplifies classic Hitchcock in its photography, use of color, and psychological storyline. The psychiatrist role was deleted from the screenplay, with Sean Connery, as the boyfriend, taking over the lines. Was this realistic? Was the ending realistic? Can you explain the theivery? What about a classical conditioning paradigm for the fear of the color red and thunderstorms? How, today, would Marnie be treated?

Matchstick Men 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy     Year:  2003      Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman
Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Personality Disorders, Treatment
Nicholas Cage as the con man with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Very entertaining film. Consider the accuracy of portrayal (was it “real” OCD or a conversion disorder, for example). What about the ethics of the treatment he experienced?

Genre:  Drama     Year:  2000     Rating:  R
Actors:  Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Topics:  Neuropsychology
This definitely is a film for those interested in neuropsychology. Leonard has anterograde amnesia (he can’t form new memories). To compensate, he tattoos notes to himself all over his body. He is on a quest to find the person who raped and murdered his wife. You’ll have to watch this one closely to follow the plot – it is told in reverse. The attempt to accurately portray anterograde amnesia should be commended, but there are several points where Leonard acts as if he has “held” a memory longer than could be working memory alone (e.g., he sleeps between the event and writing it down). What else can you find that is inaccurate? What about the failed avoidance learning by the insurance claimant?

My Left Foot 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1989     Rating:  R
Actors:  Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Alison Whelan
Topics:  Neuropsychology/Medical Disorders, Substance Use Disorders, Mood Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Great film about childhood misdiagnosis of cerebral palsy as mental retardation and the difficulties adjusting to an adult life with disabilities.

Night Listener, The 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  2006     Rating:  R
Actors:  Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Joe Morton
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders
Suffice it to say that this film allows for significant psychological interpretation, including issues not typically seen in major films. To say more will spoil the plot for you – also why I am not labeling the diagnoses for the film. See it for yourself and be sure to watch the Bonus Feature “The Night Listener Revealed.”

No Country for Old Men 
Genre:  Drama     Year: 2007     Rating: R
Actors:  Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Moral Development
The acclaimed film by the Coen brothers won multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture. I found myself unable to stop thinking about the movie for sometime after my first viewing. The pace never lets up, maintaining tension throughout. The storyline lends itself to considerations of moral development and moral decision-making. Does the coin toss suggest some sort of “professional ethics” by the killer? This a movie you will not soon forget.

Nurse Betty 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy     Year:  2000     Rating:  R
Actors:  Renee Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock
Topics:  Psychopathology, Dissociative Disorders, Personality Disorders, Stress and Coping, Marital/Family Dynamics
I had a different expectation for this movie, thinking more of a light romantic comedy. Not so. Perhaps I’m spoiling the director’s design in wanting to warn you up front, but there are some especially violent scenes, often coming unexpectedly. Interpret these in light of the start of Betty’s fugue state. Plenty to do in comparing Betty and the Morgan Freeman character, as well as Chris Rock’s character. There is a bit of the Gilligan’s Island syndrome again – coconut hit one results in bizarre behavior, coconut hit number two fixes it and all is well. If it only were so easy…

On Golden Pond 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy     Year:  1981     Rating:  PG
Actors:  Katherine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda
Topics:  Neuropsychology, Marital/Family Dynamics
Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Actress. Beautiful story of enduring love in an elderly couple, the husband’s suffering from the early stages of dementia, and its effect on family members. Acting doesn’t get much better than this.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1975     Rating:  R
Actors:  Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Mood Disorders, Personality Disorders, Treatment, Forensic
Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress among other awards. This is a must see (and I mean MUST for any psych major!). Why faking insanity to avoid jail may not be a good idea (at least not during this era).

One Hour Photo 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  2002     Rating:  R
Actors:  Robin Williams, Connie Nielson, Michael Vartar
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders
This was a very interesting movie. Pay attention to the sets and use of color. Robin Williams portrays the one hour photo worker who becomes very attached to a particular family. Although some viewed Williams’ character as menacing, my take was quite different. What do you think? Diagnosis? How about that ending – what was your interpretation?

Ordinary People 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1980     Rating:  R
Actors:  Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton, Donald Sutherland
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Best Actor. Another MUST SEE for psychology majors. Portrayal of how a family deals with trauma. One of the few positive portrayals of a therapist (Judd Hirsch).

Ox-Bow Incident, The 
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1943    Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews
Topics:  Social, Moral Development
Classic older Western, telling the story of two men passing through a town and becoming involved in the hanging of suspects in a murder. The film allows for examination of multiple Social Psychology concepts, such as conformity and deindividuation, as well as levels of Moral Development.

Perks of Being a Wallflower, The   
Genre: Comedy/Drama     Year:  2013    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
Topics:  Developmental, Psychopathology, Mood Disorders
This is a refreshingly good coming-of-age movie. Based on the book, it chronicles a teen boy’s transition to high school and his development of friendships. We are aware that he has a history of psychiatric hospitalization and depression, but the etiology of his difficulties is not fully revealed until the end of the movie. This is another recent film, like Silver Linings Playbook, which does not stigmatize mental illness. Well done!

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1998     Rating:  R
Actors:  Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman
Topics:  Psychopathology, Neuropsychology
An early film by Darren Aronofsky, who has since made his name with The Wrestler and Black Swan. This film is ripe for interpretation – intentionally left that way by the writer/director. The parallels with “Clean, Shaven” and “A Beautiful Mind” are readily apparent, but is this a portrayal of schizophrenia? How consistent are his symptoms/behaviors with temporal lobe epilepsy, hmmm?  The bonus feature about the making of the movie give a glimpse into film-making on a shoestring budget, not likely to be a problem for Aronofsky anymore!

Genre:  Drama/Comedy     Year:  2005     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Uma Thurmann, Meryl Streep, Bryan Greenberg
Topics:  Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
OK, I was “primed” to dislike this movie, based on the trailers. I was pleasantly surprised, but not totally won over. The situation where a client becomes involved with a close family member is a good one and should lead to discussions of dual relationships. What about the direction given by the therapist’s therapist?

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1960     Rating:  R-NR
Actors:  Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Janet Leigh
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Dissociative Disorders
Classic Hitchcock. Think about Norman’s relationship with his mother.  Is the explanation at the end appropriate? Contains one of the most famous shower scenes. Watch the humorous Psycho trailer with Hitchcock for the movie on YouTube.

Rain Man 
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1988     Rating:  R
Actors:  Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Topics:  Neuropsychology, Marital/Family Dynamics
Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Best Actor. Excellent portrayal of autism in adulthood and associated family stresses. Wonderful movie.

Revolution #9 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  2001     Rating:  NR-R 
Actors:  Michael Risley
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Treatment 
I LOVED this underseen independent film (only rated by 175 people on the Internet Movie Database). It chronicles an acute episode of psychosis, its onset, effects on loved ones, and treatment components. Includes very realistic portrayal of a commitment hearing and the realities of managed care. The ending leaves room for discussion. Revolution #9 would make for a great start of a series of schizophrenia films, depicting various stages of the disorder, followed by Pi (untreated severe psychosis), Clean, Shaven (managed psychosis), and Spider chronic disability. It’s a great title, too. How many of you have played that song backward, looking for the hidden messages (I know I did as a teen)? Feel more connected to Jackson in this movie? Then again, Charles Manson claimed to receive messages from this song, too.

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1995     Rating:  R
Actors:  Julianne Moore, Peter Friedman, Xander Berkeley
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Treatment 
A film about “environmental illness” aka multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome. Is there really such a thing? Maybe. Does Carol White in this film have it? Maybe not. Is she depressed? There certainly is plenty of evidence to think so. As you watch the film, keep track of all the things that could be “toxic” from hair spray to car exhaust. Also note the virtually omnipresent background noise – electronics, traffic, etc. Also note when it is and is not present when Carol is at the treatment facility. 

Safe House 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1998     Rating:  R 

Actors:  Patrick Stewart, Kimberly Williams, Hector Elizondo
Topics:  Neuropsychology, Treatment
Patrick Stewart (of Star Trek Next Generation fame) believes that he is an ex-government intelligence agent who is the only living witness to a cover-up that might allow a corrupt senator to become president. He needs to stay alive long enough to bring out the truth, while both the killers and his Alzheimer’s disease are out to get him. Although it is a bit uneven (sometimes campy humor, sometimes quite serious), it is entertaining and has significant content related to Alzheimer’s disease and its impact.

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1996     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Geoffrey Rush, Justin Braine, Sonja Todd
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics 
Academy Award winner for Best Actor. Story of gifted Australian pianist, David Helfgott, son of Holocaust survivors. You can visit theHelfgotts’ personal website to learn more about this interesting man and his wife. The father character also allows for diagnostic considerations. Helfgott appears to have schizoaffective disorder-manic. The music is excellent in this film.

Shock Corridor 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1963     Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment 
Newly released on DVD. The story of a newspaper reporter out to win the Pulitzer Prize by solving the murder of a patient in a mental hospital, by feigning mental illness himself (coached by a psychiatrist prior to seeking admission – ethics?). I started off liking the movie, ended up seeing how it perpetuated stigma and myth about mental illness and its treatment – psychosis is contagious? Tests can damage normal minds? Yikes. Melodramatically entertaining, but watch with a very critical eye. Another campy movie from the sixties, along with Lilith.

Shutter Island 
Genre:  Drama        Year:  2010        Rating:  R
Actors:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Treatment
Suspenseful drama set in 1954, as a U. S. Marshall investigates the disappearance of a patient at a forensic psychiatric facility. Stop reading here if you do not want the plot twists revealed. This is a movie to be watched more than once. The plot twist was foreshadowed often – did you see it coming? Consider the professional ethics involved in such a “treatment.” What alternatives should have been considered? What would be an appropriate diagnosis for DiCaprio’s character?

Silver Linings Playbook 
 Genre:  Comedy/Drama     Year:  2012     Rating:  R
Actors:  Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro
Topics: Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Marital and Family Dynamics, Treatment
This is one of my all-time favorite films.  Bradley Cooper portrays a man newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He meets Jennifer Lawrence, a young woman with her own mental health issues.  The film very accurately and matter-of-factly reflects the impact of psychological difficulties on the family while avoiding stigma.  Unfortunately, there are some unprofessional/unethical acts by mental health professionals.  Nonetheless, it’s a fantastic film. You’ll love it!


Sixth Sense, The 

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1999     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment
Bruce Willis as a child psychologist whose 6-year-old patient claims to see the spirits of dead people around him. Good film; nice plot twist. Also interesting brief portrayal of Munchausen’s by Proxy.  Willis is a much more ethical psychologist in this film than in the horrible Color of Night.

Snake Pit, The 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1948     Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Olivia de Havilland, Mark Stevens, Leo Genn
Topics:  Psychopathology, Dissociative Disorders, Treatment, Stress and Coping 
Classic film nominated for many Academy Awards. A young woman is in a state insane asylum and can’t recall how she got there. The climate, patients, and treatments are likely accurate for their times, as well as the hospital politics and clashing between the treating psychiatrist and his administrative superiors, even before managed care. Well done portrayal of her inner dialogue. Not a particularly flattering portrayal of psychiatric nurses, though. What do you think of the conclusion regarding the causes of her problems? A great movie.

Spanking the Monkey 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1994     Rating:  R
Actors:  Jeremy Davies, Elizabeth Newett, Benjamin Hendrickson
Topics:  Marital/Family Dynamics, Personality Theory
What a positive surprise this film is and what a lousy title. If you are looking for a video to analyze psychologically, this is one ripe with material. A young pre-med student, rather than going to a prestigious summer internship in the attorney general’s office, is tasked with tending to his attractive mother who has broken her leg. His father is on the road selling motivational videos. This forced intimacy (he helps her with the bedpan, dressing, showering) leads to Oedipal situations. The film is a black comedy, with the viewer careening from very serious content to humor in seconds. Definitely one to see for the psychologically-minded.

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1945     Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov
Topics:  Psychopathology, Dissociative Disorders, Treatment 
One of Hitchcock’s best. A man shows up at a mental institution, impersonating the new psychiatrist. He develops a relationship with another psychiatrist, who then realizes that he is actually not the person he said he is. There are ethical issues, repressed memories, suspense, and humor. The downside is that this is yet another Hitchcock movie with a female lead blinded by love.  The movie includes a dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali (artist of melting clocks/watches fame).

Genre:  Drama     Year:  2002     Rating:  R
Actors:  Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Lynne Redgrave
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment, Personality Theory 
Along with “Clean, Shaven,” one of the best portrayals of schizophrenia. Interpretation of the film leads one to Oedipal impulses and mother as saint/whore. Just like “Spider,” the viewer has to question “reality” through the film. Might warrant a second watching – this time keep track of all the types of delusions – somatic, guilt, Capgras, etc. Be sure to watch the supplemental interviews on the DVD.

Squid and the Whale, The 
Genre:  Drama     Year: 2005     Rating:  R
Actors:  Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Owen Kline
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping, Developmental
Wow. This film keeps you tense throughout. What a great family dynamics/dysfunction display. So much to consider – father’s narcissism, son’s budding narcissistic tendencies (from father’s modeling, or his own personality disorder?), younger son’s spiral into conduct disorder/depression, lack of boundaries between parents and children…don’t expect resolution at the end, though – just like most times in real life.

Stand By Me 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy    Year:  1986    Rating:  R
Actors:  Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman
Topics:  Developmental, Social
One of my all-time favorites. The movie is rated R mostly for language (swearing by teen boys), but I believe it is so wonderful otherwise taht it is worth showing to teenage audiences. The story is simple – a group of boys hike through the woods to see a dead body. It is the journey, rather than its end, that is important. Friendship, family, conformity, peer pressure are all explored in a truly wonderful movie.

Sunset Boulevard 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1950     Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Erich von Stroh
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Psychotic Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
This is an old movie and requires some knowledge of film history – particularly silent films. Watch “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” first to get a flavor of such films and then watch this. Gloria Swanson is terrific – her mixed personality disorder and other possible diagnoses give you ample material to chew on.

Thank You for Smoking 
Genre: Comedy/Drama    Year: 2005    Rating: R
Actors: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bellow
Topics: Social, Moral Development
This black comedy portrays the efforts of the tobacco company to sway public opinion. It is an inside look at the tactics used, including product placement in movies. The main character faces a moral dilemma when testifying before congress, pitting his allegiance to his employer against his duties as a parent.

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1958     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Jimmy Stewart
Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Personality Disorders, Stress and Coping 
This movie tops many “all time favorites” lists. The story of a police detective, Scottie (also called Johnny), who suffers a trauma, developing acrophobia and vertigo, causing him to retire from the force. He is hired by an old college acquaintance to tail his wife, Madeleine, who seems to have dissociative identity disorder. Scotty falls in love with her, but can’t prevent her from committing suicide. Stop reading here if you don’t want the plot spoiled…Scotty is traumatized, becomes catatonic. Later encounters young woman on the street who looks like Madeleine. Turns out that she truly was the Madeleine that Scottie had followed, but she was part of the murder plot of the real Madeleine, however she really did fall in love with Scottie. Over time, they date, he remakes her into Madeleine (hair color, clothing, etc.). I’ll save the rest for you to see. Did you see Scottie as a sympathetic character? How did you feel about him at the end? Would his efforts to overcome his phobia be appropriate treatment?  Interesting that Madeleine was portrayed as being dissociative and Scottie seems to show many signs of dissociative features, as well, including his two first names…hmmm! A film to be watched more than once. Enjoy!

What About Bob 
Genre:  Comedy     Year:  1991     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Richard Dreyfuss, Bill Murray, Julie Hagerty
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
Cute movie with Richard Dreyfuss as the competent (or burned out?) psychotherapist and Bill Murray as the patient (who seems to have more insight…). Note the difference in perception of Bob between the therapist and his family. Has its flaws, but is a fun film.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1966     Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Mood Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics 
Academy Award winner for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Alcohol abuse, dysthymia, narcissism, conversion disorder, marital dysfunction, and wonderfully clever dialogue make this a must see. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton portray the older married couple whose fights are full of psychological barbs.

Woodsman, The 
Genre:  Drama     Year:  2004     Rating:  R
Actors:  Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick
Topics:  Psychopathology, Marital/Family Dysfunction, Social, Forensic 
This film is likely to generate significant discussion – there no doubt will be some who find it offensive (the producer received a gift-wrapped rat for Christmas during film production), and others who find it a thought-provoking piece about a taboo topic. The film is likely best appreciated if watched without a “heads up” – Stop reading if you want to avoid spoilers …. Kevin Bacon is terrific portraying the torment of a pedophile released after 12 years in prison. He develops a relationship with a tough woman with her own history. He struggles with his continuing impulses, wishing to be “normal,” as he works with a therapist. From a diagnostic perspective, consider that he is able to have “normal” sex with his girlfriend, the difference between him and sexual sadists, such as the one described by the cop in the film, and the role that stress played in his impulses, parallels with OCD? A thinker’s film with many metaphors throughout and unsaid story components (e.g., we have a sense of how pedophiles are treated in prison). I’m not sure if this were intentional (perhaps yes, as the same producer made Monsters Ball) – the authority figures in the film, with the exception of the therapist, were all African-American: boss, secretary, cop. Is this a social commentary about the relative social positioning of pedophiles in a biased society, even if white? Looking for a film to analyze for class? This one is loaded with material.

Woody Allen 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy     Year:  Variable     Rating:  Variable
Actors:  Woody Allen, Various
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Theory 
Pretty much any movie with Woody Allen in it deals with neurosis! In particular, in “Hollywood Ending” he develops conversion blindness.