Genre: Drama Year


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Abre los ojos ("Open Your Eyes")

Genre: Drama                      Year: 1997      Rating: R

Actors:  Eduardo Noriega, Penelope Cruz, Cheta Lera

Topics:  Treatment, Trauma

Spanish film told in retrospect as an imprisoned man, whose face is horribly disfigured, tells his story to a psychiatrist. How's his reality testing? Remade as Vanilla Sky; see this original. [Suggested by Erin Gustin, University of Southeastern Indiana]

Adaptation                                                                                                                        Favorite

Genre: Comedy/Drama                      Year: 2002      Rating: R

Actors:  Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper

Topics:  Personality Disorder, Mood Disorder

Nicholas Cage plays identical twin brothers with very different personalities. The protagonist, Charlie, is a screenwriting with writer's block. He also has great difficulty in social interactions. Consider the diagnostic criteria for Avoidant Personality Disorder as you watch this. Disappointing ending, but entertaining throughout. Diagnosis for Meryl Streep?

Agnes of God

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1985      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Jane Fonda, Meg Tilly, Anne Bancroft

Topics:  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.[Suggested by Nell Stewart]

All About Eve                                                                                                                        Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1950      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Bette Davis, Ann Baxter, George Sanders

Topics:  Personality Disorder, Marital Conflict

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? Realistic at end? If she were in treatment in the midst of her turmoil, how would you have treated her?

American History X

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1998      Rating:  R

Actors:  Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo

Topics:  Multicultural

A neo-Nazi (Edward Norton) in prison for murder begins to question his prejudiced belief system. When he is released, his goal is to "deprogram" his brother.

American Splendor                                                                                                            Favorite

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     2003      Rating:  R

Actors:  Paul Giamatti, Harvey Pekar, Hope Davis

Topics:  Depression, Family Dysfunction, Personality Disorder

Very interesting and unique film. Drags a bit at the end, though. Story of Harvey Pekar's life (he's the "poster child" for the DSM-III according to his wife). Full of characters with quirks (psychopathology?) who are still functioning in their lives. My favorite is Toby, the self-proclaimed nerd (pronounced "nyerd") who is autistic. Having worked in a VA hospital, I can attest that the climate in the file room is right on the mark!

An Angel at My Table                                                                                                        Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1990      Rating:  R

Actors:  Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson

Topics:  Treatment, Personality Disorder, Depression

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                                                                                                                         Favorite

Genre:     Comedy                   Year:     1999      Rating:  R

Actors:  Robert DeNiro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow

Topics:  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:  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. [Suggested by Tammy Schneider, Champaign, IL]

Antwone Fisher                                                                                                                   Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2002      Rating:  R

Actors:  Denzel Washington, Derek Luke, Joy Bryant

Topics:  Treatment, Childhood Disorder

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?

Anywhere But Here

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1999      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Hart Bochner

Topics:  Personality Disorder

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:  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. [Suggested by Darlene Puck, Cincinnati, OH]

As Good As It Gets                                                                                                            Favorite

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     1997      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Jack Nicholson, Greg Kinnear, Helen Hunt

Topics:  OCD, Personality Disorder

Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Actress. Jack Nicholson with Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder, as well as plenty of Axis II. Really great movie.

At Close Range

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1986      Rating:  R

Actors:  Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson

Topics:  Personality Disorder

Movie about a son's (Sean Penn) relationship (or lack thereof) with his clearly psychopathic father (Christopher Walken). Based on a true story. [Suggested by Laura Cronin, Marywood University, PA]

Autumn Leaves

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1956      Rating:  NR

Actors:  Joan Crawford, Cliff Robertson, Vera Miles

Topics:  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.

Aviator, The                                                                                                                          Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2005      Rating:  R

Actors:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale

Topics:  OCD, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective

Academy Award winner for Best Supporting actress and other accomplishments (cinematography, etc.).  Excellent movie. There is much room for diagnosis debate - clear OCD symptoms early on, but what about paranoia? Manic-type symptoms? Personality considerations? Be sure to also watch the special features segment on OCD.

Awakenings                                                                                                                          Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1990      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Robin Williams, Robert DeNiro, Julie Kavner

Topics:  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?

Bad Seed, The

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1956      Rating:  NR-PG-13

Actors:  Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones

Topics:  Nature/nurture, Childhood Disorder

I've had several people suggest this and I initially thought it was more horror/suspense and less psychological, until Phil Condron (St. Gregory High, Chicago) pointed out the opportunity to discuss the nature/nurture issue.

Bad Timing

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1980      Rating:  R

Actors:  Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel

Topics:  Personality Disorder, Suicide, Sexual Obsession

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?

Beautiful Mind, A                                                                                                                 Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2001      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly

Topics:  Schizophrenia

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…

Beautiful People

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     1999      Rating:  R

Actors:  Thomas Goodridge, Frank Pruti, Tony Peters

Topics:  Drugs/Alcohol, "Bosnian syndrome," Family Dysfunction

A black comedy from Britain. Much like a lighter version of "Crash." The intertwining of lives and various conflicts allow for discussion of biases and "us" versus "them" mentalities. Also includes reference to "Bosnian syndrome."

Bedlam                                                                                                                                    Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1946      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, Billy House

Topics:  Treatment

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:  Treatment, PTSD

Story of psychiatrist treating World War I soldiers with "shell shock"  in an old Victorian castle. Even ECT!

Being There

Genre:     Comedy                   Year:     1979      Rating:  PG

Actors:  Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas

Topics:  Personality Disorder

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                                                                                                                       Favorite

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     1993      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn

Topics:  Schizophrenia, Personality Disorder

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.


Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1988      Rating:  R

Actors:  Forest Whitaker, Diane Venora, Michael Zelniker

Topics:  Drugs/Alcohol, Eating Disorder, Treatment

Story of jazz great Charlie Parker, with drug use and compulsive eating.


Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1984      Rating:  R

Actors:  Nicolas Cage, Matthew Modine, John Harkins

Topics:  PTSD

An early Nicolas Cage movie with two returning Vietnam vets dealing with the aftermath of their combat experiences - one physically and the other mentally.


Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1997      Rating:  R

Actors:  Craig Sheffer, Sheryl Lee, Terence Stamp

Topics:  Sexual Disorder, Treatment

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.

Blue Velvet

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1986      Rating:  R

Actors:  Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper

Topics:  Sexual Disorder

Bizarre, somewhat disturbing movie with Isabella Rossellini as a sexual masochist and Dennis Hopper with a variety of quirks. Received mixed reaction from movie reviewers. [Suggested by Michael Rasmussen, University of Queensland, Australia]

Boost, The

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1988      Rating:  R

Actors:  James Woods, Sean Young, John Kapelos

Topics:  Drugs/Alcohol, Family Dysfunction

Sean Young and James Woods get a "boost" from cocaine addiction, at what cost?

Boys Don't Cry

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1999      Rating:  R

Actors:  Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigney, Peter Sarsgaard

Topics:  Sexual Disorder, Personality Disorder, Impulse Control Disorder

Academy Award winner for Best Actress.  Powerful story based on true events.  How does social psychology explain the differences in attitude after the discovery that Brandon is anatomically female?  [Suggested by Sheila Fling, Southwest Texas State University]

Breaking the Waves                                                                                                          Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1996      Rating:  R

Actors:  Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgaard, Katrin Cartlidge

Topics:  Personality Disorder

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 about a diagnosis for her? [Suggested by Peter Lilliengren, Stockholm University, Sweden]

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1921      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher

Topics:  Treatment, Hypnosis

An oldie, but goodie - silent with subtitles. Told from the point of view of a mental patient. [Suggested by Skye Enyeart, Purdue Calumet University, IN]

Caine Mutiny, The                                                                                                               Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1954      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson

Topics:  Psychosis, Forensic, Personality

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 accomodations for his deficiencies?   If you want more resolution at the end, read the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, on which the film was based.  [Suggested by Ron Yamauchi]

Camille Claudel

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1988      Rating:  R

Actors:  Isabelle Adjani, Gerard Depardieu, Laurent Grevill

Topics:  Psychosis, 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. [Suggested by Celeste Walling, NY]

Canvas                                                                                                                                    Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2006      Rating:  Pg-13

Actors:  Joe Pantoliano

Topics:  Psychosis, Family Dysfunction, Treatment

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.                                                                                                     Favorite

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     1963      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Gregory Peck, Tony Curtis, Angie Dickinson

Topics:  Treatment, PTSD

Great older movie with Gregory Peck as the military psychologist during WW II. Highly recommended.

Caveman's Valentine, A

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