Sunday, September 06, 2009

Top Ten Films That Feature Mental Illness

I love watching movies. The cinematic experience not only entertains but also informs. Here are my top 10 favorite movies that show mental illness and psychotherapy in a realistic manner.

1. Ordinary People (PTSD, Depression)
My absolute favorite movie of all time because it portrays the human experience of loss so well and it also features psychotherapy in a realistic way. Robert Redford's directorial debut. Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton wow in their performances.

2. A Beautiful Mind (Schizophrenia)
The true story of Nobel Prize Winner John Nash is told in this award winning film. Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly star. Directed by Ron Howard.

3. The Soloist (Schizophrenia)
This is the true story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a former Julliard Student, who falls into the depths of schizophrenia. When reporter, Steve Lopez, befriends him, both of their worlds change. The ethical issues of treatment of mental illness are realistically portrayed. Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx offer great performances.

4. Canvas (Schizophrenia)
A young boy moves through the his mother's psychotic episode with the help of his father and friends. Joe Pantoliano, Marcia Gay Harden and Devon Gearhart are inspiring to watch.

5. Bird (Substance Abuse/Eating Disorder)
The true story of Charlie "Bird" Parker, Jazz legend, and his struggles with mental illness. Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Forest Whitaker. Fantastic soundtrack.

6. Rain Man (Autism)
Dustin Hoffman delivers an award winning performance as a man with Autism and Tom Cruise as the brother who doesn't understand him.

7. Fearless (PTSD)
Jeff Bridges is unforgettable in his performance as a survivor of a plane crash as is Rosie Perez in this emotional tale of trauma, loss and recovery.

8. Lars And The Real Girl (Social Anxiety Disorder)
This film knocked me out with its poignant storytelling of a young man living in a rural Minnesota community. Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer star.

9. A Lion In Winter (Personality Disorders, Family Dysfunction)
Various personality disorders as well as maladaptive defense mechanisms often seen in family dysfunction are presented in vivid language and breathtaking performances. Peter O'Toole, Katherine Hepburn and a young Anthony Hopkins dazzle in this award winning film. It's an oldie, but a goodie - and based on the life of King Henry II.

10. The Night Listener (Factitious Disorder)
Robin Williams and Toni Collette tell this true-based story from the experiences of author Armistead Maupin, and his connection to a mysterious young boy.

There are so many more that I could name, but these are my top favs. Head on over to Psychmovies and for more movie suggestions.

What are your favorites?


Casdok said...

Interesting list, there are some i havent even heard of!
Rain man came out the year my son was born (he was diagnosed a year later). Cant remember how many times i watched it!!

Dr Shock MD said...

Ordinary people is one of my favorites. A movie in which a psychiatrists is portrayed as a empathic doctor for a change.
I also liked Shine, wonderful movie with nice music.
Maybe we should make an online database.
Kind regards Dr Shock

Dr. Deb said...

Dustin Hoffman was so great and the movie brought light to the subject of Autism. Much needed back then.

Dr. Shock,
Psychmovies has a great database regarding films and mental illness. Check it out.

Xmichra said...

I love girl interupted. One of my favorites.

Dr. Deb said...

Angelina Jolie was amazing in her role. I enjoyed that movie too.

Anonymous said...

The Snake Pit doesn't rate a mention? Too Freudian for my taste but still a classic.

CrackerLilo said...

I loved "Fearless" and "Lars and the Real Girl."

No "As Good As It Gets"? My brother has OCD and found that and the TV show Monk really helpful after he was first diagnosed. (So did the very young woman who would become his wife--they married at 24 and 20, respectively.) "As Good As It Gets" convinced him to get help before he ended up like Jack Nicholson's character.

It's probably good that there are strong choices that have to be left off of a Top Ten list!

Sharon S. said...

Great list! I haven't seen "Ordinary People" in a long time..maybe time for a revisit. Loved "Lars And The Real Girl"..surprised me as well.

Other favs are "Sybil" (DID/MPD)-really showed a positive relationship between Sybil and her therapist. Joanne Woodward and Sally Field were so good in this.

Another oldie "One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" for the history of how mentally ill people were mistreated.

Scott said...

Well that's pretty cool.

This isn't a movie, but I was just in a bookstore and found a memoir called "My Lobotomy," which looked like a tempting read. I didn't buy it, but skimmed it and it is about a middle-aged man's quest for the truth about WHY he went to the hospital and had an ice-pick lobotomy when he was a child.


Dreaming again said...

As Good as it Gets is definitely one that helped my husband understand our sons OCD.

(didn't make him happy, but at least he started dealing with it as some reality)

Monk too helped my children find humor in their OCD. (I know, TV show not movie ;o) )

There was a TV Movie with Merideth Baxter (then Merident Baxter Berney) that portrayed an adult woman with bulimia was the first time I took notice that my eating disorder just might not be ok.

Wanda's Wings said...

Some good movies, that show what some of us live with each day.

phd in yogurtry said...

Good List. You've got a couple here I haven't even heard of.

Ordinary People is such an excellent movie.

I've been wanting to see Lars and the Real Girl. Glad to see you recommend it.

Two I recommend: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Three Faces of Eve.

Zee said...

I think you've mentioned my favorites already. I will say that I learn all sorts of things about mental illness from watching Law and Order episodes, which you can watch on your computer via Netflix. The Criminal Intent series is highly recommended.

VG said...

hi this is a great list especially beautiful mind...

Rose said...

I've seen six of them but Rain Main tops it for me. The soloist was good too.

Anonymous said...

Great list. I still think one of the absolutely most poignant and ultimately tragic films to deal with alcoholism is the classic Days of Wine and Roses. Of course, my bias is that Lee Remick makes everything she did worthwhile.

Bad Writer said...

if you get a chance you should do a top ten list on fictional books dealing with mental illness.

Cathy said...

Ordinary People is my favorite. I loved Donald Sutherland in this movie.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

You listed a few of my favorites. I loved the book "The Night Listener" and the movie did a good job of following it. I love these kinds of movies. I think I will link over here tomorrow!

My favorite movie on drug addiction is "Requiem for a Dream" but its very hard to watch. My son (who is addicted to heroin) loves the movie too but it didn't affect him the way I hoped it would. I started a blog about him, its linked on my side bar if you are interested "The Needle and the Damage Done".

Carie said...

I love Benny and June :) I saw it on the list on the psychmovies site, it is one of my favorites...

When my daughter was little we watched Drop Dead Fred togather, afterwards she asked me so many questions about the mind and how it works and she started studying psychology, no one believes me that her interest in the field started with that movie

Felipe Epaminondas said...

Great list! I'm gonna rent some of these to watch! I also highly recommend One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Aviator aswell!

Kellen said...

I can't beleive you listed Ordinary People. That movie profoundly moved me, yet I never hear much about it. It is a truly moving account of how a family deals with a suicide. Good call.

I love Away From Her, a movie about a wife who develops Alzheimer's and how it affects her husband.

Here's my complete list:

The Lone Beader said...

I was surprised I didn't see Slingblade on the list. That is my favourite.

Jade said...

Hmmm.... I don't know if I would consider Autism to be a mental health disorder....

Hope you are doing well Deb. :-)

Big Brother said...

How about "One flew over the Coocoo's nest" ?

Clueless said...

My favorite is Ordinary is quite intricate in the family dynamics. I love MTM as it was such a different character for her. As I was a teenager when it came out...I really identified with it...I wish that I had someone to talk to then...but I do now!!

I also really enjoyed Good Will Hunting.

Thanks for sharing this list.

Jean Esselink said...

I would have gone with some different movies. David and Lisa? As good as Ordinary people. Cuckoo's Nest? Benny & Joon? Slingblade? Fatal Attraction? Nuts? The Deam Team? Postcards from the Edge? The Boo storyline in To Kill a Mockingbird? The more I think about it, the more good movies about mental illness there are.

Kimie Hime - The Changeling said...

My favourites are Girl Interrupted, Benny & Joon, Madhouse, Dont say a Word and Session 9. Not maybe the best in knowledge view but I like them anyway.