Treatment and Ethics


Favorites


Abre los ojos (“Open Your Eyes”)
Genre:  
Drama    Year:  1997    Rating: R
Actors: Eduardo Noriega, Penelope Cruz, Cheta Lera
Topics: Psychopathology, Treatment, Stress and Coping
Spanish film told in retrospect as an imprisoned man, whose face is horribly disfigured, tells his story to a psychiatrist. What do you think of his reality testing? Remade as Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise. See this original, instead.


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.


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.


Angel Baby
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1995    Rating:  R
Actors:  John Lynch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Colin Friels
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Schizophrenia
An Australian film about two schizophrenics who fall in love at group therapy. Everything is fine until they decide to stop taking their medications and she becomes pregnant.


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?


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.


Awakenings
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?


Bedlam
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.


Behind the Lines (aka Regeneration)
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1997    Rating:  R
Actors:  Jonathan Pryce, James Wilby, Johnny Lee Miller
Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Treatment
Story of psychiatrist treating World War I soldiers with “shell shock”  in an old Victorian castle. Even ECT!


Bird
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1988    Rating:  R
Actors:  Forest Whitaker, Diane Venora, Michael Zelniker
Topics:  Psychopathology, Substance Use Disorders, Treatment, Stress and Coping
Story of jazz great Charlie Parker, with drug use and compulsive eating.


Bliss
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1997    Rating:  R
Actors:  Craig Sheffer, Sheryl Lee, Terence Stamp
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
Newlyweds deal with the wife’s psychological difficulties and her revelation that she does not reach orgasm with her husband. Interesting focus on therapy for sexual dysfunction and her movement from Female Orgasmic Disorder to Sexual Aversion Disorder. Think the sex therapist behaves ethically? A good movie, somewhat spoiled by the predictable twist at the end.


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.


Camille Claudel
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1988    Rating:  R
Actors:  Isabelle Adjani, Gerard Depardieu, Laurent Grevill
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment
Biography of the French artist, Claudel, who has a “madness of mud” – she’s a sculptress. Gerard Depardieu plays Auguste Rodin, with whom she has a less than stable relationship. Adjani spent most of her adult life in an asylum.


Canvas
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.


Clean and Sober
Genre:   Drama     Year:  1988      Rating:  R
Actors:  Michael Keaton, Kathy Baker, Morgan Freeman
Topics:  Psychopathology, Substance Use Disorders, Treatment
Michael Keaton struggles with alcoholism and attends rehab.


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.


Cosi
Genre:  Comedy    Year:  1993      Rating:  R
Actors:  Ben Mendelsohn, Barry Otto, Toni Collette
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment, Social
A very well-done, heartwarming Australian comedy about a theater major hired to direct a play with the cast comprised of psychiatric patients at the local asylum. Includes pyromaniacs and other diagnoses. What does it say about training needed to work in an institution? How does the movie portray the staff?


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.


Donnie Darko
Genre:  Drama    Year:  2001    Rating:  R
Actors:  Jake Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics, Social, Moral Development
A cult favorite. See the Director’s Cut version. Although intended to be interpreted from a science fiction perspective, the story easily can be analyzed according to traditional schizophrenia and trauma issues.


Don’t Say a Word
Genre:  Drama    Year:  2001    Rating:  R
Actors:  Michael Douglas, Sean Bean, Brittany Murphy
Topics:  Psychopathology, Anxiety Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Treatment
The daughter of a psychiatrist is kidnapped and the abductors demand that he break through to a catatonic girl, who holds the secret to the location of a hidden gem, in order to get his daughter back.


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.


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?


Fearless 
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. 


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.


Harvey 
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.


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.


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 Promised You a Rose Garden
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1977      Rating: R
Actors:  Kathleen Quinlan, Bibi Anderson, Ben Piazza
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment
A young woman’s continuing fantasies from childhood land her in an institution, with a therapist attempting to reunite her with reality. Would be nicely paired with “The Snake Pit” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to compare treatment methods. Joins “Shock Corridor” in perpetuating the evil mental health aide concept. If you ever watch the documentary “Titicut Follies,” you’ll see that such abuses have occurred, however.


Instinct
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1999      Rating:  R
Actors:  Cuba Gooding, Jr., Anthony Hopkins, Donald Sutherland
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Forensic
Cuba Gooding, Jr. as a young psychiatrist tasked to perform an evaluation on Anthony Hopkins, an anthropologist who had been living as a primitive man among the gorillas he had been studying. Hopkins is indicted for murder, after he killed the men who were trying to “save” him from the gorillas.


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.”


Kinsey
Genre:  Drama      Year: 2004      Rating:  R
Actors:  Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O’Donnell
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
Very interesting film chronicling the first systematic investigation of human sexual responses. Diagnostic considerations for Kinsey? Good segments demonstrating issues to be considered when conducting psychosocial interviews.


K-Pax 
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.


Lilith 

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.


Ma Vie En Rose
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1997      Rating:  R
Actors:  Michele Laroque,Jean-Philippe Ecoffey, Helene Vincent
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Marital/Family Dynamics, Treatment, Social, Stress and Coping
French movie (English subtitles) – Chronicles the emerging signs of gender identity conflict in a young boy and his family’s reaction, as well as the community.


Man Facing Southeast
Genre:  Drama      Year:  1986      Rating:   R
Actors:  Lorenzo Quinteros, Hugo Soto, Ines Vernengo
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment
Argentinian movie. A man is institutionalized and continuously stands facing Southeast, so that he can receive messages from his home planet. Prelude to KPax?


Marnie 
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?


Mumford
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 :).


Nijinsky
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1980     Rating:  R
Actors:  Alan Bates, George De La Pena, Leslie Brown
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment
Story of one of the most famous and gifted male dancers, who developed schizophrenia and spent most of his life in an institution. Was treated by Bleuler (recognize that name from your Histories and Systems class?). This would make a nice double feature with Black Swan, for you ballet lovers.


Ninth Configuration
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1980     Rating:  R
Actors:  Stacey Keach, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller
Topics:  Psychopathology, Psychotic Disorders, Personality Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Treatment, Forensic
Very good movie about a secret experimental government mental health treatment facility for Vietnam veterans who appear to have had mental breakdowns. One goal is to identify those who are “faking.” Interesting plot twists and ethical considerations. Compare and contrast with Shutter Island.


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).


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).


Permanent Midnight
Genre:  Drama    Year:  1998     Rating:  R
Actors:  Ben Stiller, Maria Bello, Jay Paulson
Topics:  Psychopathology, Substance Use Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
Autobiographical story of former Hollywood screenwriter, Jerry Stahl, and his struggles with drug addiction. Hard to go wrong with Ben Stiller as the lead and, of course, the omnipresent Owen Wilson has a small role.


President’s Analyst
Genre:  Comedy     Year:  1968     Rating:  NR-PG-13
Actors:  James Coburn, Geoffrey Cambridge, Severn Darden
Topics:  Treatment
If you are an Austin Powers fan, you’ll like this movie – a REAL 1960s flick, complete with the music, the décor, the clothes, the drug use. It’s relevance to this list is marginal – consider it from the position of actually being the “president’s analyst” – what would be your confidentiality (and safety?) issues.


Prime 
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?


Prince of Tides, The
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1991     Rating:  R
Actors:  Barbra Streisand, Nick Nolte, Blythe Danner
Topics:  Psychopathology, Mood Disorders, Treatment, Marital/Family Dynamics
Barbra Streisand as therapist. Think it’s OK to fall in love with the brother of your suicidal client? Oy vey. Another example of unethical conduct by a mental health professional. I was angry through most of the movie! The beautiful cinematography helped keep me calm.


Quills
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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


Spellbound 
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. 


Sybil
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.


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?


Titicut Follies
Genre:  Documentary     Year:  1967     Rating:  R
Actors:  N/A
Topics:  Psychopathology, Treatment 
This is a highly controversial documentary, with graphic images of abuse of patients in a Massachusetts psychiatric hospital. The film was banned for a period of time by court order, citing invasion of privacy.


Vertigo 
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.


When a Man Loves a Woman
Genre:  Drama     Year:  1994     Rating:  R
Actors:  Andy Garcia, Meg Ryan, Ellen Burstyn
Topics:  Psychopathology, Substance Use Disorders, Marital/Family Dysfunction, Treatment 
Story of alcoholic wife and mother, her treatment, and her relationship with her husband.


Whirlpool
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.


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.