Personality Disorders

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?

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?

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.

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?

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]

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?

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.  Cute movie. 

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]

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]

Citizen Kane

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1941      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore

Topics:  Personality Disorder

A classic. The story of a newspaper publisher's climb to success. Also, the power of early childhood memories?

Clockwork Orange, A

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1971      Rating:  R

Actors:  Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates

Topics:  Personality Disorder, Treatment, Forensic

Bizarre, somewhat disturbing movie, with truly disturbed main characters. Also includes aversion conditioning that backfires. [Suggested by Stacy Landry, Marywood University, PA]

Don't Bother to Knock                                                                                                      Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1952      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Marilyn Monroe, Richard Widmark, Anne Bancroft

Topics:  Depression, Psychosis, Personality Disorder

This is not a well-known film and was not a critics' favorite; however, I enjoyed it and believe that in its short 76 minutes it gives plenty of material to digest.  Marilyn Monroe plays a young girl hired for the first time to babysit a child at a hotel, as recommended by her uncle, the elevator operator.  As the movie progresses, we learn that she was recently released from a mental institution, "almost cured," almost being the operative word.  I enjoyed the movie and Monroe's performance.  Consider suggestions of her childhood experiences, the concept of diathesis-stress in the onset of  psychopathology, and the possible personality disorder present.

Dressed to Kill

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1980      Rating:  R

Actors:  Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen

Topics:  Sexual Disorders, Treatment, Personality Disorder

Serial killer on the loose, Michael Caine as a New York psychiatrist specializing in sexual disorders,  and any more details and I'll reveal the plot twists. Sort of a Psycho wannabe.

Ed Wood

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     1994      Rating:  R

Actors:  Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker

Topics:  Sexual Disorder, Personality Disorder

Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor.  Johnny Depp as the quirky movie maker - and  transvestite.  His friends also have their share of psychopathology. Cute film.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2004      Rating:  R

Actors:  Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood

Topics:  Personality Disorder, Treatment

Although beloved by many, this film didn't rapture me. Consider the "treatment" issue and ethics of those administering it (we can imagine that they are "mental health professionals"). Also consider Clementine's personality - disordered? Does the storyline support the concept that personalities can't be changed through treatment?

Fatal Attraction                                                                                                                   Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1987      Rating:  R

Actors:  Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer

Topics:  Personality Disorder, Family Dysfunction

A film which demonstrates why flings can be dangerous. Glenn Close as the spurned "flingee." Get out the Borderline Personality Disorder criteria…

Frenzy                                                                                                                                     Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1972      Rating:  R

Actors:  Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, Barry Foster

Topics:  Sexual Disorder, Personality Disorder

A classic Hitchcock story full of suspense, dotted with humor (I love the chief inspector's wife), and  with a smattering of psychoanalytical explanations thrown in.  Another one to pair with Frontline's Mind of a Murderer, the true story of the Hillside Strangler.

Gaslight                                                                                                                                   Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1944      Rating:  NR-PG-13

Actors:  Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton

Topics:  Delusional Disorder, Personality Disorder

Academy Award winner for Best Actress.  A great movie! How a woman can come to believe that she's crazy, when she isn't!

Girl, Interrupted                                                                                                                  Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1999      Rating:  R

Actors:  Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall

Topics:  Depression, Personality Disorder

Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress.  I really enjoyed this movie! I suspect that the "Borderline" diagnosis given to Susanna more appropriately refers to her psychotic depression, with the former use of the term referring to the zone between neurosis and psychosis,  i.e., on the "borderline" of psychosis. "Lisa" demonstrates a good manic, and seems more of today's "Borderline Personality Disorder" than the movie's Antisocial Personality Disorder diagnosis. What do you think? [Submitted by Desiree Jasso, California State San Marcos]

Gone with the Wind                                                                                                           Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1939      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Vivian Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland

Topics:  Personality Disorder

Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress.  A woman coping with life during the Civil War. A classic. Scarlett's diagnosis? Histrionic? Borderline? Antisocial? Consider her behavior in light of the culture of the time.  My favorite line in the movie, "Askin' ain't


Good Will Hunting

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1999      Rating:  R

Actors:  Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck

Topics:  Treatment, Personality Disorder

Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor and Writing.  Robin Williams provides psychological treatment for the main character. Some ethical violations, and at first seems like too much self-disclosure, but it served a therapeutic purpose. I'm not quite sure that the catharsis depicted truly would have cured both the Axis I and II disorders depicted in the untreated - "bad (?) " Will Hunting. Academy award winner. [Submitted by Allen Stigers, Pacific Lutheran University, WA]

Heavenly Creatures

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1994      Rating:  R

Actors:  Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sara Peirse

Topics:  Personality Disorder, Family Dysfunction, Treatment

According to the submitter: "Historically near-perfect account of two girls with a rich fantasy life. When threatened with separation, they retaliate -- with murder. Can you say folie a deux? Kate Winslet signals future superstardom." [Suggested by Ron Yamauchi]

House of Games

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1987      Rating:  R

Actors:  Joe Mantegna, Lindsay Crouse, Mike Nussbuam

Topics:  Treatment, Personality Disorder

Joe Mantegna as a con artist whose life fascinates a psychologist/author, luring her into his world of deceit. Suspenseful, quality movie.

House of Yes                                                                                                                        Favorite

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     1997      Rating:  R

Actors:  Parker Posey, Josh Hamilton, Tori Spelling

Topics:  Psychosis, Personality Disorder

I loved this movie. Absolutely great, quick dialogue. A young man brings his fiancé home to meet his family - we learn that she is the very first house guest and it is clear why. The young man's twin sister believes she is Jackie O and there is a family tradition of reenacting the Kennedy assassination (with ketchup and pasta - until this night), as well as other family secrets.

Kiss the Girls

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1997      Rating:  R

Actors:  Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes

Topics:  Forensic, Personality Disorder

Deals with a forensic psychologist and two serial murderers who are seeming to work together. Interesting flick! [Suggested by Tabatha Schellenger, University of Alaska, Anchorage]

Madame Bovary

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1949      Rating:  R

Actors:  Jennifer Jones, James Mason, Van Heflin

Topics:  Personality Disorder

Classic novel with many film adaptations. I read an interesting review by Roger Ebert that compared Madame Bovary to Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind." Many behavioral parallels, but their decisions about how to cope with adversity are quite different. Is one more Borderline and the other more Histrionic? The 1991 version is in French with English subtitles. [Suggested by Victoria Mellody, University of Arizona-Tucson]

Man with the Golden Arm, The

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1955      Rating:  NR-PG-13

Actors:  Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak

Topics:  Drugs/Alcohol, Family Dysfunction, Personality Disorder

One of the first films to deal with drug addiction - in this case heroin. Frank Sinatra leaves rehab clean, hoping to make a new start, but is dragged back under by returning to the same environment. His wife, desperate not to lose his affection/attention, pretends she is paralyzed. A movie ahead of its time. Compare to "Requiem for a Dream."


Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1986      Rating:  R

Actors:  William Peterson, Kim Greist, Joan Allen

Topics:  Forensic, Personality Disorder

According to Ron Yamauchi: "The first film appearance of Hannibal Lector (Brian Cox). William Peterson (of CSI fame) is Graham, an FBI profiler with the gift/curse of absolute insight. Being able to understand serial killers from the inside gives him the power to catch them, but has also put him in the mental ward on occasion." [Suggested by Ron Yamauchi]

Marnie                                                                                                                                     Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1964      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Tippi Hedron, Sean Connery, Diane Baker

Topics:  Impulse Control Disorder, Sexual Disorder, PTSD

There is much to this movie. It exemplifies classic Hitchcock in its photography, use of color, psychological storyline. The psychiatrist role was deleted, with Sean Connery taking over the lines.  Was this realistic?  Was the ending realistic?  Can you explain the theivery?  What about a classical conditioning paradigm for the fear of the color red and thunderstorms?  How, today, would Marnie be treated?

Mommie Dearest

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1981      Rating:  R

Actors:  Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest

Topics:  Family Dysfunction, OCD, Personality Disorder

Based on the book by the adopted daughter of Joan Crawford, reflecting the movie star's abusive behavior and mental illness. Diagnosis? OCD+? [Suggested by Molly McHugh, Saint Mary's College, IN]

Night Listener, The                                                                                                            Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2006      Rating:  R

Actors:  Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Joe Morton

Topics:  ?!, Personality Disorder

Suffice it to say that this film allows for significant psychological interpretation, including issues not  typically seen in major films. To say more will spoil the plot for you - also why I am not labeling the diagnoses for the film. See it for yourself and be sure to watch the Bonus Feature "The Night Listener Revealed." 

Nurse Betty                                                                                                                           Favorite

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     2000      Rating:  R

Actors:  Renee Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock

Topics:  Dissociative, Personality Disorder, Trauma

I had a different expectation for this movie, thinking more of a light romantic comedy. Not so. Perhaps I'm spoiling the director's design in wanting to warn you up front, but there are some especially violent scenes, often coming unexpectedly. Interpret these in light of the start of Betty's  fugue state. Plenty to do in comparing Betty and the Morgan Freeman character, as well as Chris Rock's character.  There is a bit of the Gilligan's Island syndrome again -  coconut hit one results in bizarre behavior, coconut hit number two fixes it and all is well. If it only were so easy…


Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1987      Rating:  R

Actors:  Barbra Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, Maureen Stapleton

Topics:  Forensic, Psychosis, Personality Disorder

Barbra Streisand as a hooker charged with manslaughter and the use of the insanity plea.

Of Mice and Men

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1992      Rating:  R

Actors:  John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Ray Walston

Topics:  Mental Retardation, Personality Disorder

The classic Steinbeck story directed by and starring Gary Sinise. Story of two cousins during the depression, working to get by - George with his brains, Lenny with his brawn. Consider the diagnosis of Curly's wife (never named in the film or book)? The end of this story never fails to get me teary '"tell me about the rabbits…"  Read the book, too.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest                                                                              Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1975      Rating:  R

Actors:  Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield

Topics:  Treatment, Personality Disorder, Suicide

Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress among other awards.  This is a must see (and I mean MUST for any psych major!). Why faking insanity to avoid jail may not be a good idea (at least not during this era).

One Hour Photo                                                                                                                   Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2002      Rating:  R

Actors:  Robin Williams, Connie Nielson, Michael Vartar

Topics:  Personality Disorder

This was a very interesting movie. Pay attention to the sets and use of color. Robin Williams portrays the one hour photo worker who becomes very attached to a particular family. Although some viewed Williams' character as menacing, my take was quite different. What do you think? Diagnosis? How about that ending - what was your interpretation?

Play Misty for Me                                                                                                                Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1971      Rating:  R

Actors:  Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walters, Donna Mills

Topics:  Personality Disorder

Pairing this film with "Fatal Attraction" would make for quite the double feature. Many similarities. Both related to female "stalkers" in a sense.

Primal Fear

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1996      Rating:  R

Actors:  Richard Gere, Edward Norton, Laura Linney

Topics:  Forensic, Dissociative, Personality Disorder

Richard Gere as the lawyer defending the altar boy accused of murder. Note the testimony by the neuropsychologist - within her sphere of expertise? Does Edward Norton accurately portray Dissociative Identity Disorder?  Pairing this movie with the Frontline documentary, "Mind of a Murderer" (watch part 2) would allow for significant diagnostic considerations.


Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2000      Rating:  R

Actors:  Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix

Topics:  Treatment, Sexual Disorder, Personality Disorder

Life in a 1790s mental asylum - all sorts of "treatments" given to the Marquis de Sade as he writes  pornographic plays which are smuggled out of the asylum. [Suggested by Melanie Domenech- Rodriguez, Utah State University]

Ruling Class, The

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     1972/2  Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Peter O'Toole

Topics:  Psychosis, Treatment, Family Dysfunction

This British black comedy has a cult following and was rereleased to include previously removed footage, which is unfortunate, as I found it too long.  The first half or so I enjoyed, but found the second half disturbing, as it unfortunately followed the oh-so-common path of schizophrenic as dangerous.  Still worth watching, as Peter O'Toole appears believing he is God and the treatment facility at first seems so benevolent.  But, alas, the treating psychiatrist loses his ethical scruples, not to mention his sanity.  The portrayal of schizophrenic dialogue is quite good, as well as O'Toole's initial efforts to suppress his psychosis.  Doesn't rise to the level of a "favorite," but worth watching.


Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2007      Rating:  R

Actors:  Maggie Gyllenhaal, Brad William Henke, Sam Bottoms

Topics:  Drugs/Alcohol

Sherry is released from prison to a halfway house, after doing time for drugs/theft.  Her young daughter has been cared for by her brother and his wife.  Sherry struggles with her re-entry into society and into her child's life, expecting the "quick fix" she could get from drug use.  Consider family dynamics, personality issues. 

Silence of the Lambs

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1991      Rating:  R

Actors:  Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn

Topics:  Forensic, Personality Disorder

Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress. This film lead many students to the field of forensic psychology. Jody Foster as a junior FBI agent, off to find a psychopathic killer, Hannibal Lector, who happens to be a psychiatrist.

Single White Female

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1992      Rating:  R

Actors:  Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bridget Fonda, Steven Weber

Topics:  Personality Disorder

Jennifer Jason Leigh takes on the persona of Bridget Fonda. Warrants a Freudian diagnosis... [Suggested by Dave Renjilian, Marywood University, PA]

Squid and the Whale, The                                                                                               Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     2005      Rating:  R

Actors:  Tim Robbins, Laura Linney, Owen Kline

Topics:  Family Dysfunction, Personality Disorder, Childhood Trauma

Wow. This film keeps you tense throughout. What a great family dynamics/dysfunction display. So  much to consider - father's narcissism, son's budding narcissistic tendencies (from father's modeling, or his own personality disorder?), younger son's spiral into conduct disorder/depression, lack of boundaries between parents and children…don't expect resolution at the end, though - just like most times in real life.

Sunset Boulevard                                                                                                               Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1950      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Gloria Swanson, William Holden, Erich von Stroh

Topics:  Personality Disorder, Delusional Disorder, Psychosis

This is an old movie and requires some knowledge of film history - particularly silent films. Watch "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" first to get a flavor of such films and then watch this. Gloria Swanson is terrific - her mixed personality disorder and other possible diagnoses give you ample material to chew on.

Taxi Driver

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1976      Rating:  R

Actors:  Robert De Niro, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster

Topics:  Personality Disorder

Classic film with Robert DeNiro as the Vietnam vet cab driver who is obsessed with pornography and violence. Source of the much-since-used line, "Are you talking to me?!" Rejection leads to violence. Are there parallels with the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech? 

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1993      Rating:  NR-PG

Actors:  Colm Feore, Derek Keurvors, Katya Ladan

Topics:  Personality Disorder

Drama about eccentric Canadian pianist. Some similarities with David Helfgott ("Shine"), but without the behavioral excesses, just the deficiencies. Diagnostic considerations?

Three Faces of Eve, The

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1957      Rating:  NR-PG-13

Actors:  Joanne Woodward, David Wayne, Lee J. Cobb

Topics:  Dissociative, Treatment, Marital Conflict

Academy Award winner for Best Actress. Early story of psychiatric treatment to fuse multiple personalities. One of the "training films" used by the Hillside Strangler in his attempt to fake multiple personality disorder (see Frontline's "Mind of a Murderer-Part 2").  Compare with Sybil. Consider the etiologies and why The Three Faces of Eve did not spark the boom of MPD diagnoses that followed Sybil.  Note the role of passivity (aka Eve White) as an adaptive strategy for coping with her husband.  Note also the timing of the onset of problems, associated with miscarriage.  Was the revelation at the end really the cure, in a Freudian sense, or was there progress all?

To Die For

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1995      Rating:  R

Actors:  Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix

Topics:  Personality Disorder

Nicole Kidman as an ambitious TV personality who enlists 3 teenagers to murder her husband. Based on a true story. Diagnosis? [Suggested by Alysse M., Indiana University]

Unstrung Heroes

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1995      Rating:  PG

Actors:  Andie MacDowell, John Turturro, Michael Richards

Topics:  Family Dysfunction, Personality Disorder, OCD

Andie MacDowell portrays a dying woman with a young son, married to an eccentric inventor. The two oddball uncles (one's paranoid, one's a hoarder) come through for the boy with some remarkable insights and wisdom.

Vertigo                                                                                                                                    Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1958      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Jimmy Stewart

Topics:  Anxiety, Depression, Personality

This movie tops many "all time favorites" lists.  The story of a police detective, Scottie (also called  Johnny), who suffers a trauma, developing acrophobia and vertigo, causing him to retire from the force.  He is hired by an old college acquaintance to tail his wife, Madeleine, who seems to have dissociative identity disorder.  Scotty falls in love with her, but can't prevent her from committing suicide. Stop reading here if you don't want the plot spoiled…Scotty is traumatized, becomes catatonic.  Later encounters young woman on the street who looks like Madeleine.  Turns out that she truly was the Madeleine that Scottie had followed, but she was part of the murder plot of the real Madeleine, however she really did fall in love with Scottie.  Over time, they date, he remakes her into Madeleine (hair color, clothing, etc.).  I'll save the rest for you to see.  Did you see Scottie as a sympathetic character?  How did you feel about him at the end?  Interesting that Madeleine was portrayed as being dissociative and Scottie seems to show many signs of dissociative features, as well, including his two first names…hmmm!  A film to be watched more than once. 


Weather Man, The                                                                                                              Favorite

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     2005      Rating:  R

Actors:  Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis

Topics:  Dysthymia, Personality Disorder, Family Dysfunction

Another "man's search for meaning film."  Serious, yet with plenty of comedy to keep you entertained. Consider the weatherman's diagnosis - dysthymia? Depressive PD? Also, what's your interpretation of the father (Michael Caine)? Some reviewers saw him as a negative character - I disagree and found him to be as supportive as he could be, while recognizing his son's failings.

What About Bob                                                                                                                  Favorite

Genre:     Comedy                   Year:     1991      Rating:  PG-13

Actors:  Richard Dreyfuss, Bill Murray, Julie Hagerty

Topics:  Treatment, Personality Disorder, Family Dysfunction

Cute movie with Richard Dreyfuss as the competent (or burned out?) psychotherapist and Bill Murray as the patient (who seems to have more insight...).  Note the difference in perception of Bob between the therapist and his family. Has its flaws, but is a fun film.

White Heat

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1949      Rating:  NR-PG-13

Actors:  James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien

Topics:  Personality Disorder, Psychodynamic

Set during prohibition, James Cagney as the gang leader who always seeks his "Ma's" approval and attention (she belongs to the gang, too). Certainly can have a psychodynamic interpretation, possible conversion disorder (his headaches?), and paranoia - but, then again, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you! Classic film. 

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?                                                                                    Favorite

Genre:     Drama                      Year:     1966      Rating:  NR-PG-13

Actors:  Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal

Topics:  Family Dysfunction, Personality Disorder, Mood Disorder

Academy Award winner for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.  Alcohol abuse, dysthymia, narcissism, conversion disorder, marital dysfunction, and wonderfully clever dialogue make this a must see. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton portray the older married couple whose fights are full of psychological barbs. [Suggested by Stephen Trichter]

Woody Allen

Genre:     Drama/Comedy     Year:     Variable               Rating:           Variable

Actors:  Woody Allen, Various

Topics:  Neurosis

Pretty much any movie with Woody Allen in it deals with neurosis! In particular, in "Hollywood Ending" he develops conversion blindness.