35 Excellent Movies for Psychology Buffs

35 Excellent Movies to Flex Your Feeling Muscles

Psychological Mindedness (PM) is defined as the ability to have insight into own and other’s experiences and feelings. It is the capacity to be introspective and understand the reasons people do what they do. There is a possibility, as indicated by some studies, that a high level of psychological mindedness correlates with success in psychotherapy. In my experience, I have found this to be true. Individuals who are able to examine themselves get more out of therapy than those who are not able to or have no interest in doing so.  Psychological movies can help with this.

When I come across clients who appear to have a low level of PM, I don’t fret. I believe that they can be taught this skill, provided that they are interested. Some of my work, at the beginning of a new therapist/client relationship, is to help the client develop the habit of thinking more about their own and other’s inner workings. One effective method of teaching PM is watching films that lead the mind into this arena. Here are some helpful psychological movies that deal with mental illness and psychotherapy to develop your PM. Please be warned that some of these films are highly disturbing. If you are unwinding after a long day, or already suffering from extreme depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, don’t watch these movies unless you see a face next to them. Absolutely do not watch ones marked “D” for Disturbing. It might be a good idea to watch these with other people, and not alone. I have found it helpful, too, to pop in a light comedy after watching a heavy film.

Dirty Filthy Love (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome)

Walk The Line (drug addiction, trauma, emotional abuse)

Precious (sexual abuse)

The Fisher King (homelessness, trauma, Schizophrenia)

What About Bob (comedy about mental illness)

Streetcar Named Desire (codependency, domestic abuse, personality disorders)

The Aviator (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Ordinary People (Depression, suicide)

A Beautiful Mind (Schizophrenia)

Shutter Island (Paranoid Schizophrenia)

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (mental illness)

Bright Lights, Big City (Cocaine addiction, Depression)

Don Juan Demarco (comedy about Schizophrenia)

Gia (sexual identity, drug addiction, Borderline Personality Disorder)

Tom and Viv (Bipolar Disorder)

The Dream Team (comedy about mental illness)

Sybil (Dissociative Identity Disorder, trauma, abuse)

Where the Wild Things Are (child bipolar disorder, play therapy)

Heavenly Creatures (Shared Delusional Disorder)

Brokeback Mountain (sexual identity, homophobia)

Trainspotting (Heroin addiction, withdrawal)

Up (grief, loss, life transitions)

Mr. Jones (Bipolar Disorder)

Rain Man (Autism)

Delores Claiborn (Depression, child abuse, drug abuse)

Girl Interrupted (Codependency, Antisocial Personality Disorder)
Dangerous Method (Psychoanalysis, Hysteria, Masochism)

Secretary (Sadomasochism, cutting, Depression)

Fly Away (Parenting a child with Autism)

Shame (Sex Addiction, disordered attachment)

The Dresser (Narcissitic and Dependent Personality Disorder)

Deliver Us From Evil (Effects of sexual molestation and rape)

Boys Don’t Cry (Gender Identity)

Control (Depression, existential anxiety, Suicide)

Black Swan (OCD, eating disorder, perfectionism)

Finally, for those that are so inclined, I recommend any Woody Allen movie to develop your understanding of anxiety, relationships, and to have some laughs while you’re at it.