Personality Disorders


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? 


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.

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?

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.

At Close Range
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1986    Rating:  R
Actors:  Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Marital/Family Dynamics
Movie about a son’s (Sean Penn) relationship (or lack thereof) with his clearly psychopathic father (Christopher Walken). Based on a true story.

Bad Timing
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1980    Rating:  R
Actors:  Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Treatment
This modern film-noir type movie has been hated by some – e.g., the original distribution company  removed its logo and called it “a sick movie made by sick people for sick people.”  Well, I didn’t think it was THAT bad – I’ve certainly seen worse, but I’m not inclined to watch it again.  The film is told through a series of flashbacks interspersed with current time, making it a bit hard to follow.  By the end, though, you have a sense of where the psychopathologies lie.  In addition to the personality disorder issues, what about the psychiatrist’s blatant disregard for confidentiality and the inappropriate use of testing?  If he is a “research psychoanalyst” in Vienna, does that change the ethics requirement, even if he most likely was trained in the United States? And, yes, the actor is Art Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel fame.

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.

Boys Don’t Cry
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1999    Rating:  R
Actors:  Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigney, Peter Sarsgaard
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Social
Academy Award winner for Best Actress. Powerful story of a young person dealing with gender identity disorder; based on true events. How does social psychology explain the differences in attitude after the discovery that Brandon is anatomically female? 

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.

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?

Clockwork Orange, A
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1971    Rating:  R
Actors:  Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Treatment, Forensic
Bizarre, somewhat disturbing movie, with truly disturbed main characters. Also includes aversion conditioning that backfires.

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.

Dressed to Kill
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1980    Rating:  R
Actors:  Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Treatment
Serial killer on the loose, Michael Caine as a New York psychiatrist specializing in sexual disorders, and any more details and I’ll reveal the plot twists. Sort of a Psycho wannabe.

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.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Genre:  Drama    Year:  2004    Rating:  R
Actors:  Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
Although beloved by many, this film didn’t rapture me. Consider the “treatment” issue and ethics of those administering it (we can imagine that they are “mental health professionals”). Also consider Clementine’s personality – disordered? Does the storyline support the concept that personalities can’t be changed through treatment?

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…

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’.”

Good Will Hunting
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1999      Rating:  R
Actors:  Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Treatment
Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor and Writing. Robin Williams provides psychological treatment for the main character. Some ethical violations, and at first seems like too much self-disclosure, but it served a therapeutic purpose. I’m not quite sure that the catharsis depicted truly would have cured both the Axis I and II disorders depicted in the untreated – “bad (?) ” Will Hunting. Academy award winner.

Heavenly Creatures
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1994      Rating:  R
Actors:  Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sara Peirse
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Treatment, Marital/Family Dysfunction, Social, Developmental
Two girls share a rich fantasy life. Is this foie a deux (Shared Delusional Disorder?). Personality disorder? Features a young Kate Winslet.

House of Games
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1987      Rating: R
Actors:  Joe Mantegna, Lindsay Crouse, Mike Nussbuam
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Personality Disorders, Social
Joe Mantegna as a con artist whose life fascinates a psychologist/author, luring her into his world of deceit. Suspenseful, quality movie.

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.

Kiss the Girls
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1997      Rating:  R
Actors:  Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Forensic
Deals with a forensic psychologist and two serial murderers who are seeming to work together. Interesting flick!

Madame Bovary
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1949      Rating:  R
Actors:  Jennifer Jones, James Mason, Van Heflin
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders
Classic novel with many film adaptations. I read an interesting review by Roger Ebert that compared Madame Bovary to Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind.” Many behavioral parallels, but their decisions about how to cope with adversity are quite different. Is one more Borderline and the other more Histrionic? The 1991 version is in French with English subtitles.

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:  1986     Rating:  R
Actors:  William Peterson, Kim Greist, Joan Allen
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Forensic
This film preceded Silence of the Lambs, but was the first appearance of Hannibal Lector. William Peterson (of CSI fame) is the FBI profiler. His ability to understand the mind of a serial killer is related to his own mental illness.

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?

Mommie Dearest
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1981     Rating:  R
Actors:  Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics 
This film is the source of many cultural references. It is based on the book by the adopted daughter of famed movie star, Joan Crawford and chronicles the actress’s abusive behavior and mental illness. Diagnosis?

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.”

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…

Genre:  Drama     Year:  1987     Rating:  R
Actors:  Barbra Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, Maureen Stapleton
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Personality Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Stress and Coping, Forensic
Barbra Streisand as a hooker charged with manslaughter and the use of the insanity plea.

Of Mice and Men
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1992     Rating:  R
Actors:  John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Ray Walston
Topics:  Neuropsychology, Personality Disorders, Moral Development
The classic Steinbeck story directed by and starring Gary Sinise. Story of two cousins during the depression, working to get by – George with his brains, Lenny with his brawn. Consider the diagnosis of Curly’s wife (never named in the film or book)? The end of this story never fails to get me teary ‘”tell me about the rabbits…” Read the book, too.

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?

Play Misty for Me
Genre:  Drama Year: 1971 Rating: R
Actors:  Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walters, Donna Mills
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders
Pairing this film with “Fatal Attraction” would make for quite the double feature. Many similarities. Both related to female “stalkers” in a sense.

Primal Fear
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1996     Rating:  R
Actors:  Richard Gere, Edward Norton, Laura Linney
Topics:  Psychopathology, Dissociative Disorders, Personality Disorders, Forensic
Richard Gere as the lawyer defending the altar boy accused of murder. Note the testimony by the neuropsychologist – within her sphere of expertise? Does Edward Norton accurately portray Dissociative Identity Disorder? Pairing this movie with the Frontline documentary, “Mind of a Murderer” (watch part 2) would allow for significant diagnostic considerations.

Genre:  Drama      Year:  2000     Rating:  R
Actors:  Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Treatment, Forensic 
Story of the Marquis De Sade, who was imprisoned in a 1790s mental asylum. Was he pure evil? Well, his name resulted in the term “sadism.” As an aristocrat, he thought himself above the law, but eventually he was reigned in, forbidden to write. He found ways to do so from the asylum, however, and smuggled them out. He then meets his match in Michael Caine, as the physician assigned to break him. Yet another good example of the quality of mental health services in the 16th century! But then again, could the Marquis be effectively treated today?

Ruling Class, The
Genre:  Drama/Comedy     Year:  1972     Rating:  PG-13
Actors:  Peter O’Toole
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
This British black comedy has a cult following and was rereleased to include previously removed footage, which is unfortunate, as I found it too long. The first half or so I enjoyed, but found the second half disturbing, as it unfortunately followed the oh-so-common path of schizophrenic as dangerous. Still worth watching, as Peter O’Toole appears believing he is God and the treatment facility at first seems so benevolent. But, alas, the treating psychiatrist loses his ethical scruples, not to mention his sanity. The portrayal of schizophrenic dialogue is quite good, as well as O’Toole’s initial efforts to suppress his psychosis. Doesn’t rise to the level of a “favorite,” but worth watching. 

Genre:  Drama     Year:  2007     Rating:  R
Actors:  Maggie Gyllenhaal, Brad William Henke, Sam Bottoms
Topics:  Psychopathology, Substance Use Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
Sherry is released from prison to a halfway house, after doing time for drugs/theft. Her young daughter has been cared for by her brother and his wife. Sherry struggles with her re-entry into society and into her child’s life, expecting the “quick fix” she could get from drug use. Consider family dynamics, personality issues.

Silence of the Lambs
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1991     Rating:  R
Actors:  Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Forensic
Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress. This film lead many students to the field of forensic psychology. Jody Foster as a junior FBI agent, off to find a psychopathic killer, Hannibal Lector, who happens to be a psychiatrist. Watch Manhunter for an earlier portrayal of Hannibal Lector.

Single White Female
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1992     Rating:  R
Actors:  Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bridget Fonda, Steven Weber
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders, Delusional Disorders
Another psychotic housemate story. This one has room for more psychiatric considerations. Erotomanic Delusional Disorder? Or something more psychoanalytic? 

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.

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.

Taxi Driver
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1976      Rating:  R
Actors:  Robert De Niro, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorders
Classic film with Robert DeNiro as the Vietnam vet cab driver who is obsessed with pornography and violence. Source of the much-since-used line, “Are you talking to me?!” Rejection leads to violence. Are there parallels with the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech?

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?

To Die For
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1995     Rating:  R
Actors:  Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix
Topics:  Psychopathology, Personality Disorder, Forensic 
Based on real events. Nicole Kidman as an ambitious TV personality who enlists 3 teenagers to murder her husband. I suspect that there is a combination of personality disorders at play here.

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!

Weather Man, The 
Genre:  Drama/Comedy     Year:  2005     Rating:  R
Actors:  Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Personality Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics
Another “man’s search for meaning film.” Serious, yet with plenty of comedy to keep you entertained. Consider the weatherman’s diagnosis – dysthymia? Depressive PD? Also, what’s your interpretation of the father (Michael Caine)? Some reviewers saw him as a negative character – I disagree and found him to be as supportive as he could be, while recognizing his son’s failings.

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.

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.

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.