Movies about all the mental illnesses (from anxiety to personality disorder)

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– submitted by Ruth Levine, MD, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

This summary was derived from several of the articles listed in the resource list, from the suggestions of our ADMSEP colleagues, and from our own personal experience. We have not personally reviewed all of the movies on the list, and suggest you view any film before choosing it for teaching purposes.

Axis I Disorders

Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders Bipolar Disorder/Mania
Copycat (panic/agoraphobia) Mr. Jones
As good as it gets (OCD) Network
The touching tree (Childhood OCD) Seven Percent Solution
Fourth of July (PTSD) Captain Newman, MD
The Deer Hunter (PTSD) Sophieís Choice
Ordinary People (PTSD) Sheís So Lovely
Depression Psychosis
Ordinary People Shine
Faithful I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
The Seventh Veil Clean Shaven
The Shrike Through a Glass Darkly
Itís a Wonderful Life (Adjustment disorder) An Angel at my Table
The Wrong Man (Adjustment disorder) Personal
Dissociative Disorders Man Facing Southwest
The Three Faces of Eve Madness of King George (Psychosis due to Porphyria)
Sybil Conspiracy Theory
The Singing Detective
Substance Abuse
The Long Weekend (etoh) The Days of Wine and Roses (etoh)
Barfly (etoh) Basketball Diaries (opiates)
Kids (hallucinogens, rave scenes, etc.) Loosing Isaiah (crack)
Reefer Madness Under the Volcano
Long Day’s Journey into Night Ironweed
The Man with the Golden Arm (heroin) A Hatful of Rain (heroin)
Synanon (drug treatment) The Boost (cocaine)
The 7 Percent Solution (cocaine induced mania) Iím Dancing as Fast as I can (substance induced organic mental disorder)
Eating Disorders
The Best Little Girl in the World (made for TV)-Anorexia Kateís Secret (made for TV)-Bulemia

Axis II Disorders

Personality Pathology
Cluster A Cluster B
Remains of the Day- Schizoid PD Borderline PD
Taxi Driver-Schizotypal PD Fatal Attraction
The Caine Mutiny- Paranoid PD Play Misty for Me
The Treasure of Sierra Madre -Paranoid PD Frances
After Hours
Cluster C Looking for Mr. Goodbar
Zelig-Avoidant PD
Sophieís Choice-Dependent PD Histrionic PD
The Odd Couple-OCPD Bullets over Broadway
Gone with the Wind
A Streetcare Named Desire
Antisocial PD
A Clockwork Orange
Narcissism Obsession
All that Jazz Taxi Driver
Stardust Memories Single White Female
Zelig The King of Comedy
Jerry Maguire Triumph of Will
Shampoo Mental Retardation
American Gigolo Charly
Citizen Kane Best Boy
Lawrence of Arabia Bill
Patton Bill, On His Own

Miscellaneous Issues

Family Early Adult Issues
Ordinary People Awakenings
The Field The Graduate
Kramer vs Kramer Spanking the Monkey
Diary of a Mad Housewife
Betrayal Latency and Adolescent Issues
Whoís Afraid of Virginia Woolfe Stand by Me
The Stone Boy Smooth Talk
The Great Santini
Doctor/Patient Relationship Boundary Violations
The Doctor The Prince of Tides
Mr. Jones
Idealized “Dr. Marvelous” Psychotherapy
Spellbound Suddenly Last Summer
The Snake Pit Captain Newman, MD
The Three Faces of Eve Ordinary People
Good Will Hunting

Steve Hyler directs an APA course on this topic, and
would be a good person to check with.
For more details, you can call me (409) 747-1351. Hope to see you in Maine!

Ruth Levine
University of Texas Medical Branch

| Back to the ADMSEP Resources Page |


summary was derived from several of the articles listed in the resource list, from the suggestions of our ADMSEP colleagues, and from our own personal experience. We have not personally reviewed all of the movies on the list, and suggest you view any

19 thoughts on “Movies about all the mental illnesses (from anxiety to personality disorder)

    Howisbradley said:
    July 30, 2013 at 09:10

    Great list. I’m putting some of them on my Netflix queue. Thank you

    ashokbhatia said:
    July 30, 2013 at 11:18

    Great work, thanks for sharing. In my blog published earlier this month, I had touched upon few Bollywood movies which had themes based on doctors and nurses! There are several others which have covered specific illnesses – Black, Tare Zameen Par, Pa, etc.

      mirrorgirl responded:
      July 31, 2013 at 03:59

      Thank you! That sounds exciting 🙂 have not heard about Tate zamen par, what is that ?

        ashokbhatia said:
        July 31, 2013 at 15:12

        ‘Taare Zameen Par’ (Stars on Earth, literally speaking) is a Hindi movie which stars a kid suffering from dyslexia. Parents keep goading him to study hard and secure better grades. Disappointed, they send him off to a boarding school where a teacher recognizes his problem and tries to do something about it. A very heart warming tale, well told. You might be able to get a version with English sub-titles.

    rudyoldeschulte said:
    August 1, 2013 at 12:25

    Two additional movies – not to be missed: The Hours (bipolar disorder) and A Beautiful Mind (schizophrenia).

      mirrorgirl responded:
      August 1, 2013 at 14:15

      thank you for the additions. They are truly good movies, and I did not know the hours was about bipolar disorder:

        rudyoldeschulte said:
        August 1, 2013 at 15:04

        it is a marvelous story really – from Michael Cunningham’s novel – detailing three lives – V Woolf, a fifty housewife, and a New York woman – modern. It actually has some interesting bits like the friend, dying of Aids, and having cognitive delusions and hallucinations…symptoms associated with that suffering…I’m still of the opinion that manic-depression is a better descriptor…
        Have you read Kay Redfield Jamison?

        rudyoldeschulte said:
        December 21, 2013 at 20:38

        Also- just watched Requiem for a Dream…good movie about substance abuse…rather chilling…

        mirrorgirl responded:
        December 22, 2013 at 17:38

        That one is one of my favorite movies! I agree with everything you have been discussing here, considering I have kin with manic depressive disorder. I do believe that people with any disorder can accomplish amazing things, our thoughts are the only thing that can stop us from accomplishing what we want:)

      songtothesirens said:
      December 21, 2013 at 18:25

      A Beautiful Mind is one of my all time favorite movies! John Nash’s story gives me a great deal of hope that one day, I will also achieve my dreams in spite of mental health.

        rudyoldeschulte said:
        December 21, 2013 at 20:28

        That is a good thing to hear….

        songtothesirens said:
        December 21, 2013 at 23:56

        That’s why I like it. It is not just an amazingly engaging story. It is about a real person with severe mental health difficulties that actually succeeds in spite of them…..

      songtothesirens said:
      December 21, 2013 at 18:28

      One more reply ~ I am also of the mind that manic-depression is a better descriptor than Bipolar is because I do not see my emotions as being one “pole” or another “pole”. It is too subtle for that type of categorization. I am not one or the other but exist in the in-between with a propensity towards shifting.

        rudyoldeschulte said:
        December 21, 2013 at 20:31

        Glad you said that, for I believe that manic depression is a much better descriptor too…I am increasingly troubled by the diagnostic categorization of mental illness, health, etc…So much leeway being lost about people’s lives, their health and strengths, their perspective being categorized so much. I use the diagnostic work in a very limited way these days – focusing more on the person, their capacity for relationships, and their ability to balance out their life and wishes. The term ‘bipolar’ says so very little to me.

        songtothesirens said:
        December 22, 2013 at 00:03

        It says nothing to me. I have manic depression. So many people call themselves by their clinical diagnosis; ie. I am Bipolar, but you really cannot say I am manic depression. It is just a state of being that periodically manifests itself n your life. Usually at the most awkward moments.

        I think that Bipolar Spectrum disorder is better than simply Bipolar I or Bipolar II, but manic-depression describes it better. It covers the whole thing from manic to depressed, and everything in between whereas, to me, Bipolar assumes only two emotional states. That just isn’t the way it works. I call it “surfing the sine wave”. Sometimes the frequency of the waves is high and close together, and sometimes it is just an even wave.

        My psychiatrist currently has me designated as mixed episode ~ mild. So, I guess the sine wave is fairly mellow. However, I do like your point about focusing on the person, and how well they are functioning rather than on a diagnostic criteria.

    When in Texas | Stories in 5 Minutes said:
    August 11, 2013 at 21:11

    […] Movies about all the mental illnesses (from anxiety to personality disorder) ( […]

    songtothesirens said:
    December 21, 2013 at 18:23

    I am definitely going to have to watch some of these. Some I have seen and did not realize the types of disorders listed were portrayed. I will read A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, because it is on the bookshelf and I haven’t read it since I was fifteen. Excellent list! said:
    August 19, 2016 at 23:23

    This an excellent list! Many of the PTSD ones are on my ‘to watch’ list, aside from those I’ve seen already. It’s good to see a list including personality disorders.
    We put together a review of 10 movies about Dissociative Identity Disorder, including The Three Faces of Eve, it’s a mix of fiction and biographical movies –

      mirrorgirl responded:
      August 20, 2016 at 14:49

      Thank You for the recommendation ! It is always hard to find good movies depicting mental illness!

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