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20 movies about Psychology and mental disorders

20 movies about Psychology and mental disorders

January 17, 2022

Psychology also has its place in the seventh art. Of course, virtually any movie can offer a psychological reading of its characters or the way of thinking of who has directed it. In fact, not only the big screen offers us plots with high psychological content, but the TV series are also getting it:

  • "Psychological series: 20 series that every psychologist should see"

And, obviously, documentaries can also provide you with extensive knowledge on the subject:

  • "15 absolutely essential documentaries on Psychology"

However, the list of movies about psychology you will find below is especially recommended for anyone interested in studying and understanding this discipline and the contents it works:


Movies on psychology of yesterday and today

Let's start with the psychological film collection.

1. The prince of the tides (1991)

Romantic melodrama directed by Barbra Streisand based on the homonymous book written by Pat Conroy. Although it is a story based on love and forgiveness, it also talks about the traumas of childhood and the trace that can leave in adult life in the form of PTSD. Highly recommended

2. The Scuba Diver and the Butterfly (2007)

This is a film that focuses on the psychological consequences of suffering a physical impairment. The protagonist, former editor of the magazine Elle, is locked in his own body due to the call locked-in syndrome , unable to move anything voluntarily except one eye. From this moment on, this eye will be the only window of communication that will keep him in touch with the rest of the people and that will allow him to write an autobiographical book, the same one on which this film was based and with which he shares his name.


The film, in addition to containing an important emotional charge, is a reflection on the relationships between the mind (or, rather, consciousness) and the body itself.

  • Maybe you're interested: "The 31 best Psychology books you can not miss"

3. Someone flew over the cuckoo's nest (1975)

In this film starring the illustrious Jack Nicholson are shown essential problems of the tradition on which many mental institutions are based: the overdiagnosis , the undervaluing of the inmate as the agent responsible for his own life, the pigeonholing of people using diagnostic labels, and the invasive methods to change behavior patterns. It is based on the homonymous novel by Ken Kesey and at the time it garnered many awards due to its perfect technical finish and the humanist message it conveys.


4. Memento (2000)

It combines a perfect exemplification of what is antegrade amnesia (a disorder in which new memories do not form) with a way of narrating that makes us better understand this type of disorder. The film is composed by two types of scenes , some in black and white and others in color, that follow each other back and forth in time to leave us at all times with the confused feeling that we lack something to understand what is happening. The movie also makes us wonder where is the identity itself when the memory is not there to connect all the experiences we live .

5. Take Shelter (2011)

A normal family father begins to give in to the fear of a possible apocalypse without being subject to any rational explanation. From that moment, it enters a spiral of hasty decisions without us knowing if it has reasons to do so or it is delusions. This film can be included in a list of films about psychology because of the sensations it makes us experience, although what it tries to explain is more a metaphor about the American lifestyle, deeply based on private property, than an illustration about mental mechanisms of the paranoia .

6. Funny Games (1997)

A family of vacationers is kidnapped in their own home by a couple of men who are dressed as golf players. From this premise, the Austrian director Michael Haneke dedicates more than an hour to show us what happens when psychopathy is combined with high doses of bad faith and encouragement to eliminate others.

The realistic cut of the film is combined with a component of metafiction in which the viewer is directly questioned by what he is seeing, which does not help to make the film lighter. There are also occasions in which reference is made to the fact that everything that happens is part of a film in which the will of the golfers pair prevails, which reinforces the feeling that they have everything under control and that behind his apparent impulsiveness there is a frame of perverse rationality.Film not recommended for sensitive stomachs.

7. I am a cyborg (2006)

Much more lyrical than the previous one, I am a cyborg is a film set in South Korea in which a young girl is interned in a psychiatric hospital because of her hallucinations . It is a love film in which the suitor, who is also interned, climbs the steps of the parallel reality that the protagonist has created, understanding its hidden logic, to help her. A curious and profound film at the same time.

8. The experiment (2001)

A list with films about psychology can not exclude the social aspect of our behavior. The experiment is a film based on the Stanford prison experiment, which was conducted in 1971 under the baton of the psychologist Philip Zimbardo .

In it, several people are randomly assigned to two categories: guardians of a fictitious prison and prisoners of it. During this experiment, which ended precipitously when escaping the control of the experimenters, it was possible to see the extent to which social elements as superficial as belonging to a group can completely change the morality of people. If you study psychology, you should see this movie as soon as possible.

9. Better ... impossible (1997)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is portrayed here with humor. Melvin Udall (again Jack Nicholson) builds his day to day from small unbreakable routines and a unique ability to be detestable. Udall is leaving the compulsions and the repetitive patterns of behavior go dictating his life until a day arrives in which a novelty crosses his path and changes his character for the better.

10. The mechanical orange (1971)

One of the great classics of Stanley Kubrick, based on a novel of the same name. The protagonist is accustomed to a life of violence and lack of control because of a probable antisocial personality disorder. When he is incarcerated, a group of technicians decides to try with him a method to suppress violent impulses through a good dose of behavioral psychology.

The film talks about the belief in small invisible springs that activate certain patterns of behavior outside the will of the person. Is futuristic dystopia is considered by many people to be the queen of psychology films, focusing both on psychological mechanisms and on a discussion of their existence and the role of modern psychiatry.

Other psychological movies

Here you have other movies related to psychology that may interest you.

11. The Truman Show (1998)

One of the best-known films starring actor Jim Carrey, who this time leaves the comic record that characterizes him to embody a man who has lived his whole life on a gigantic television set without knowing it . By the way, this work gave name to a recently discovered delirium.

12. The Witch (2015)

A film recently released and that has reaped a great reputation. It narrates the life of a family of North American settlers who move to an isolated settlement in the forest to start a new life. The clash between the presence of a witch in the vicinity of your home and the strong religious faith of the family will make them emerge little by little delirious ideas .

13. American History X (1998)

The story of two brothers skinheads of National Socialist ideology that little by little are coming out of the spiral of hatred in which they live. People interested in social psychology will find in this film an interesting story about the formation of borders that separate the intragroup, those with which we identify ourselves, outgroup , those with whom we try to compete.

14. The silence of the lambs (1991)

An American thriller that has become one of the most remembered cult psychological movies . Based on the homonymous novel by writer Thomas Harris, it shows a part of the life of Hannibal Lecter, a cannibal psychopath with a history as a serial killer.

15. I am Sam (2001)

The story of a man with a mental disability played by Sean Penn He struggles by all means to maintain custody of his daughter. For this, she has the help of a lawyer (Michelle Pfeiffer) who will gradually see in her client an example of dignity and determination. This film talks about the will power and the motivation that leads a person to break the limits that he believed were limiting him.

16. The Arrival

An excellent psychological film that uses the resources of the science fiction genre to explore two topics closely related to psychology and psycholinguistics: mourning caused by the death of a loved one and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, according to which our thoughts and our way of living experiences depend on the type of language we are accustomed to using.

The excuse to talk about these fascinating topics is the arrival of alien life forms on earth and the need to establish diplomatic relations with them without knowing how they communicate.

17. The black swan (2010)

One of the most well-known psychological films by director Darren Aronofsky. The black swan talks about how the need to seek perfection without limit, competitiveness and lack of moments of intimacy They can get hold of a person until they break their mind.

18. Taxi driver

A classic of cinema . He talks about a man who, to combat his insomnia and boredom, decides to start working as a taxi driver at night. Little by little he will try to find a relevant role to make sense of his existence, even if this puts him in danger and others.

19. Rain Man (988)

If what you are looking for is a psychology film that shows many of the characteristics associated with autism, Rain Man is a very good option. In it Dustin Hoffman plays a man who presents a Autism Spectrum Disorder (TEA) and that begins to relate to a brother he barely knows.

20. An almost funny story (2010)

Craig, a teenager with severe depression it is destined to a psychiatric center. There, as the area of ​​people of his age is full, must live with adults, where he will befriend a man named Bob (Zack Galifianakis) and Noelle (Emma Roberts), another girl of similar age.

Do you want more movies?

We propose more movies, this time related to the field of Philosophy:

  • "10 philosophical films about identity"

Real Psychologist Reviews Mental Illness In Movies (January 2022).


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