Tuesday, March 04, 2014

12 Films That Feature Mental Illness

In celebration of the 2014 Oscars is my list of movies that feature mental illness. Many of these movies have won Oscars, while others should have, but didn't. As we roll out the red carpet and honor this year's best films, keep in mind that there's no shame in having a mental illness.
1. Ordinary People (Depression, PTSD, Suicide)
This is 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.  This was Robert Redford's directorial debut, which also starred. Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton, who 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)
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.

11. Bug (Shared Psychosis)
Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon meet and discover a shared experience. This film begins slowly and soon reveals itself - and as the horror unfolds, it infects you as a viewer as well.

12. Clean, Shaven (Schizophrenia)
I don't think I have ever experienced a film that so vividly takes you into the the life, mind and world of a person who lives with Schizophrenia. Actor, Peter Greene, and writer/director Lodge Kerrigan, create a film that is both meaningful and moving to watch.

Do you have a favorite movie that sheds light on mental illness?


Anonymous said...

Great list. How about "kid" with Bruce Willis?

Dr. Deb said...

Never saw it. What mental illness does this film address?

Anonymous said...

How about Silver Linings Playbook (bipolar disorder/ depression)? Great film.

PTC said...

Girl Interrupted.

Dr. Deb said...

Yes! Silver Linings. I need to add that.

And yes, Girl Interrupted!


Hi! Would love u to learn about my new psychological drama The Red Robin starring Judd Hirsch as a psychiatrist accused by his son of raising his kids as part of US sponsored mind controlled program Mkultra. Visit my Facebook page. Red robin the movie
Or website: www.theredrobin.com. Be very curious as seems right up ur alley and we r doing festivals now and markets

Dawn said...

"Garden State" written and directed by Zach Braff. It's one of my all time favourite movies.

Dr. Deb said...

The Red Robin,
I will SO check this out!!!

Yes, Garden State dealt with depression.

Anonymous said...

My all time favorite movie...ordinary people. I have literally watched that movie over 10 times.

Dr. Deb said...

Me too. I think ordinary people is just an amazing movie!

NextInLine said...

What about Ashley Judd in The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood?

Dr. Deb said...

Yes, good one, NextinLine!

Marcella Monteiro said...

Sybil is a great one (multiple personality disorder)!


Hi Dr. Deb...It's the director of THE RED ROBIN!

I would love to email you and see if you'd be interested in doing a piece on our film. We are planning a release in winter 2013/2014 and are currently making the festival rounds. We really feel the psychological subject matter will appeal to psychology and psychiatric folks.

PLUS Judd Hirsch plays a psychiatrist again but this time one whose values may be skewed...or not.

If you are interested, here's my email: mzwechsler@gmail.com


RC Cola said...

Hi Dr. Deb: How about the documentary "No Kidding, Me too!" written, starring Joe Pallantonio(sp). It explores different, real people with mental illness. Terrific movie!

Anonymous said...

It may not be the best example, but how about "As Good As It Gets" (OCD)?