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Top Ten Films That Feature Mental Illness

Posted Sep 06 2009 10:27pm
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 Cinematherapy.com for more movie suggestions.

What are your favorites?



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