High School Appropriate

This list is for high school students using the site who may not be allowed to see R-rated films. All are G, PG, PG-13, or older and not rated (but deemed appropriate).


400 Blows, The (Les quatre cents coups)
Drama    Year:  1959    Rating: NR-PG-13
Actors: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claire Maurier
Topics: Developmental, Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
In French with English subtitles. This is a classic start of the French New Wave of cinema by Truffaut. The semi-autobiographical story is of a young teen boy who, through a series of misunderstandings, experiences a variety of traumas. The film allows for exploration of family dynamics and the making of juvenile delinquency. This film is a good example of how it “takes a village to raise a child,” or, in this case, to turn a bright, nice kid into a hardened, jaded young man. My students did not enjoy this film – “too slow,” “too much time with no dialogue,” etc. I chock it up to this generation’s expectations of “wow” factors through action and CGI. They had the same reaction to the classic Kurosawa’s Rashomon. Gone are the days for appreciating the use of light and shadow and symbolism, I guess!

Genre:  Drama    Year:  2009    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne
Topics:  Psychopathology, Neuropsychology
This is one of the few films dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome in an adult. The portrayal is well-done and the plot is not contrived. Moral of the story – what is abnormal and dysfunctional in one setting may be highly adaptive and prized in another.

Agnes of God 
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1985    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Jane Fonda, Meg Tilly, Anne Bancroft
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Psychosis, Forensic
Meg Tilly as a novice nun who became pregnant and the baby is found strangled in the cloistered convent. Jane Fonda as the psychiatrist appointed to determine if Tilly is mentally competent to stand trial.

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? 

Anywhere But Here
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1999    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Hart Bochner
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Marital/Family Dynamics
I saw this film on an airplane – not outstanding, but I didn’t take off my headphones! Susan Sarandon portrays a mother “who knows best” with a teenage daughter “who knows better” as they move from a small town to Beverly Hills. The mother clearly has a mixed personality picture – histrionic, dependent, borderline?

Arsenic and Old Lace
Genre:  Comedy    Year:  1944    Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Cary Grant, Josephine Hull, Jean Adair
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychosis
Classic movie with Cary Grant discovering his aunts poison gentleman visitors and his brother thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill.

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.

Autumn Leaves
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1956    Rating:  NR
Actors:  Joan Crawford, Cliff Robertson, Vera Miles
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Depression
Joan Crawford as the older woman who marries a younger man after a whirlwind romance, only to  discover that he is mentally unbalanced. Should she have him committed? This film lends itself to a Freudian interpretation, as well.

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?

Bad Seed, The
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1956    Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones
Topics:  Psychopathology, Developmental, Marital/Family Dynamics
The original classic. Useful for exploring the nature/nurture issue. Can evil be genetic?

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.

Being There
Genre:  Comedy    Year:  1979    Rating:  PG
Actors:  Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Social
Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.  Very funny and interesting film about a gardener (Peter Sellers) whose only exposure to the “real world” outside the wall around the grounds he keeps comes from television. What does it say about our society? Any obvious diagnosis of the gardener (or us?!)?

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.

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1921    Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment
An oldie, but goodie – silent with subtitles. Told from the point of view of a mental patient. This film influenced many to follow.

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.

Genre:  Drama    Year:  2006    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Joe Pantoliano, Marcia Gay Hardin
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Treatment, Stress and Coping
Seen through the eyes of a young boy, this film demonstrates the impact of schizophrenia on the family. As such, I imagine it would be useful in working with families dealing with mental illness in a loved one.  Great music and photography.

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.

Citizen Kane
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1941    Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Social, Moral Development
A classic. The story of a newspaper publisher’s climb to success. Also, the power of early childhood memories?

David and Lisa
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1962    Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Keir Dullea, Janet Margolin, Howard da Silva
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
Story of romance between young adults in a mental institution.

Don Juan DeMarco
Genre:  Drama/Comedy    Year:  1995    Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
Johnny Depp (one of my favorites) believes that he is the great lover, Don Juan. He is treated by therapist, Marlon Brando, who, as often happens in the movies, is really treated by his patient. Cute flick.

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.

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!

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’.”

Harold and Maude
Genre:  Drama/Comedy      Year:  1971      Rating:  PG
Actors:  Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Vivian Pickles
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
A rich, 20-year-old man obsessed with death meets an elderly woman at a funeral and develops his first meaningful relationship. Involves faked suicides, and a real one, but are the characters actually depressed?

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.

Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1964      Rating: NR-PG-13
Actors:  Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotton
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
Classic. Bette Davis as a reclusive (insane?) woman, suspected of having killed her beau 40 years earlier, who now is faced with losing her plantation home due to a highway project.

I Am Sam
Genre:  Drama      Year:  2001      Rating: PG-13
Actors:  Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dakota Fanning
Topics:  Psychopathology, Neuropsychology, Forensic, Marital/Family Dynamics, Social
Sean Penn portrays a man with mental retardation fighting for custody of his 7-year-old child. Sam’s group of friends are entertaining – two are truly developmentally disabled – his close neighbor is agoraphobic. His lawyer is the stereotypical overworked yuppie professional woman, estranged from her family. The film is a classic tearjerker. Despite significant research for the film (watch the supplemental documentary), how realistic were the events? Did he take her to a pediatrician? Did the pediatrician have any concerns about his care? Was that a realistic portrayal of cross-examination of an expert witness? Could Sam really have afforded the apartment at the end in Los Angeles, making somewhere around $8/hour? What really was in the best interest of the child? Was the opposing attorney all that wrong? Many things to consider.

I Don’t Buy Kisses Anymore
Genre:  Drama/Comedy      Year:  1992      Rating: PG
Actors:  Jason Alexander, Nia Peeples, Lainie Kazan
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment
Overweight shoe store salesman is befriended by psychology student, who proceeds to help him lose weight, and use him, without his knowledge, as a case study for her thesis. I don’t think the Institutional Review Board would find this to be ethical research!

I Never Sang for my Father
Genre:  Drama      Year:      1970      Rating:  PG
Actors:  Melvyn Douglas, Gene Hackman, Dorothy Stickney
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
Depressing film about a man’s relationship with his elderly father and the stresses involved in caring for him. Adjustment Disorder, with Mixed Emotional Features, Chronic?

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.

King of Hearts
Genre:  Comedy      Year:      1966      Rating:   NR
Actors:  Alan Bates, Pierre Brasseur, Jean-Claude Brialy
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment
French with subtitles. Set in France during World War I. Allied soldiers enter a village where the only remaining people are those in the asylum. Contrast between who is “crazy” and who is “sane.”

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:  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.

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.

Manchurian Candidate, The
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1962     Rating:  NR-PG 
Actors:  Angela Lansbury, Frank Sinatra, Janet Leigh 
Topics:  Psychopathology, Dissociative Disorders, Personality Disorders
Great film. Assassination plots, hypnosis, and intrigue! Think just anyone can be hypnotized? See the original movie, rather than the remake.

Man with the Golden Arm, The
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1955      Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Substance Use Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
One of the first films to deal with drug addiction – in this case heroin. Frank Sinatra leaves rehab clean, hoping to make a new start, but is dragged back under by returning to the same environment. His wife, desperate not to lose his affection/attention, pretends she is paralyzed. A movie ahead of its time. Compare to “Requiem for a Dream.”

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/Comedy     Year:  1999     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Loren Dean, Hope Davis, Jason Lee
Topics:  Treatment
This is a generally entertaining, albeit predictable, feel-good movie. As a psychologist, however, I found myself disliking the main character. How does the field of psychology come across in this film? Does training do anything? Is the ethics code reasonable? Can one simply stop seeing a client in order to have a romantic relationship with him/her? Much to chew on from an ethics perspective here. Maybe the field is overlooking the curative effect of psychologist as matchmaker (I hope you can sense my sarcasm :).

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.

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/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?

Quiet Room, The
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1996     Rating:  PG
Actors:  Celine O’Leary, Paul Blackwell, Chloe Ferguson
Topics:  Psychopathology, Marital/Family Dynamics
Australian film about a troubled 7-year-old girl who becomes mute in reaction to her divorcing parents’ fighting. The film is from inside the girl’s mind, as we hear her thoughts and comments on what is happening around her.

Regarding Henry
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1991     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Harrison Ford, Annette Benning, Michael Haley
Topics:  Neuropsychology, Marital/Family Dynamics
Harrison Ford portrays a survivor of a brain injury. Accurate? I wonder how real survivors feel about this portrayal. Consider his personality pre and post the brain injury.


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.

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.

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).

Stairway to Light
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1946     Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  John Nesbitt, Lotte Palfi Andor, Dewey Robinson
Topics:  Treatment
Oscar-winning short film portraying Dr. Phillipe Pinel’s reform of a French mental institution in the late 18th century.

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.

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1976     Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Sally Field, Joann Woodward, Brad Davis
Topics:  Psychopathology, Dissociative Disorders, Treatment, Stress and Coping
The TV movie that started it all – virtually no patients diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder (aka Dissociative Identity Disorder) before this book/film came out. Consider a PTSD diagnosis in a patient with a general dissociative disorder (I’d argue for a dissociative personality category). Dr. Henry Spiegel, who also treated Sybil, has spoken out regarding the iatrogenic (doctor-induced) components of this case. Read the interview with Speigel about Sybil.

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1993     Rating:  NR-PG
Actors:  Colm Feore, Derek Keurvors, Katya Ladan
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders 
Drama about eccentric Canadian pianist. Some similarities with David Helfgott (“Shine”), but without the behavioral excesses, just the deficiencies. Diagnostic considerations?

Three Faces of Eve, The
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1957     Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Joanne Woodward, David Wayne, Lee J. Cobb
Topics:  Psychopathology, Dissociative Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping 
Academy Award winner for Best Actress. Early story of psychiatric treatment to fuse multiple personalities. One of the “training films” used by the Hillside Strangler in his attempt to fake multiple personality disorder (see Frontline’s “Mind of a Murderer-Part 2”). Compare with Sybil. Consider the etiologies and why The Three Faces of Eve did not spark the boom of MPD diagnoses that followed Sybil. Note the role of passivity (aka Eve White) as an adaptive strategy for coping with her husband. Note also the timing of the onset of problems, associated with miscarriage. Was the revelation at the end really the cure, in a Freudian sense, or was there progress all?

Unstrung Heroes
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1995     Rating:  PG
Actors:  Andie MacDowell, John Turturro, Michael Richards
Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Personality Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
Andie MacDowell portrays a dying woman with a young son, married to an eccentric inventor. The two oddball uncles (one’s paranoid, one’s a hoarder) come through for the boy with some remarkable insights and wisdom.

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!

Vincent and Theo
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1990     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Tim Roth, Paul Rhys, Adrian Brine
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
Biography of Vincent Van Gogh and his brother who supported him. Clearly Vincent experienced depression, and some believe that the impetus to cut off his ear came from Meniere’s Disease, which can cause unbearable ringing in the ear. 

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.

What Dreams May Come
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1998     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Annabella Sciorra
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Stress and Coping 
First the children are killed, then the husband, resulting in significant depression and despair. The story, though, is primarily of the husband’s experiencing heaven, continued contact with the “real world,” and descent into hell. Visual imagery is remarkable (won Academy Award for Special Effects).

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Genre:  Drama/Comedy     Year:  1993     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Johnny Depp, Leonardo diCaprio, Juliette Lewis
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Neuropsychology, Developmental, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping
Slice of life film, with Johnny Depp as the young adult caring for his family – a depressed, morbidly obese mother, a brother with a developmental disorder, and two sisters. Somehow, he manages it all. Good movie.

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1949     Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  Jose Ferrer, Gene Tierney, Richard Conte
Topics:  Psychopathology, Dissociative Disorders, Treatment, Forensic
Classic with Jose Ferrer as the hypnotist getting Gene Tierney, portraying the kleptomaniacal wife of a psychoanalyst, to do his bidding. Nice, suspenseful movie.

White Heat
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1949     Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O’Brien
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Personality Theory
Set during prohibition, James Cagney as the gang leader who always seeks his “Ma’s” approval and attention (she belongs to the gang, too). Certainly can have a psychodynamic interpretation, possible conversion disorder (his headaches?), and paranoia – but, then again, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you! Classic 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.

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.