Saturday, January 7, 2012

Movies & Personality Disorders

I thought I would take a brief break from exploring the serious side of psychopathology and review movies which best portray mental illness, with a special emphasis on personality disorders.

Here is a brief list–

Narcissistic Personality Disorder
*Black Swan (2010) - Erica Sayers, mother
*Morning Glory (2010) - Mike Pomeroy and Becky Fuller, to a lesser degree
*Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) - Gordon Gekko
*Fireflies in the Garden (2008) - Charles Taylor
*Wall Street (1987) - Gordon Gekko
*Gaslight (1944) - Gregory Anton, husband

Borderline Personality Disorder
Monster (2003) - Aileen
The Hours (2002) - Virginia Woolf
*Single White Female (1992) - Hedy Carlson
*Girl, Interrupted (1999) - Lisa Rowe and Susanna Kaysen, to a lesser degree

*Fatal Attraction (1987) - Alex Forrest
Mommie Dearest (1981) - Joan Crawford 

*A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - Blanche, see also Histrionic Personality Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
*The Aviator (2004) - Howard Hughes
*As Good As It Gets (1997) - Melvin Udall
*What About Bob? (1991) - Bobby Wiley

Antisocial Personality Disorder
*Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) - Lisbeth Salander
*Dark Knight (2008) - Joker
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2008) - Mr. Hyde
*Rachel Getting Married (2008) - Kym
*The Hole (2001) - Liz Dunn (this is classic presentation of a psychopath)
*The Silence of the Lambs (1991) - Dr. Hannibal Lecter

Histrionic Personality Disorder
 *A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - Blanche
Gone with the Wind (1939 ) - Scarlett O'Hara

*Twilight, New Moon (2009) - Bella Swan
*Revolutionary Road (2008) - April Wheeler
*House of Sand and Fog (2003) - Kathy
*Girl, Interrupted (1999) - Susanna Kaysen
*Ordinary People (1980) - Conrad Jarrett

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Fearless (1993) - Max Klein
*The Fisher King (1991) - Jack
*Platoon (1986) - many of the characters

*The Soloist (2009) - Nathaniel Ayers
*Benny and Joon (2003) - Joon
*A Beautiful Mind (2001) - John Nash

*Movies with an asterisk are those I have watched

Here are several other websites which include either more categories or other suggestions.

Top 10 Films Featuring Mental Illness

Psychopathology & the Cinema-Film List (a very comprehensive list)

Wikipedia's List of Films Featuring Mental Illness

Which movies would you have suggested?

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  1. The husband in Gaslight was a psychopath not a narcissist. There is not such a thing as Borderline Personality disorder. It is a made up condition by Big Pharma and many female psychopaths are misdiagnosed. Most people diagnosed by Borderline are involved in pathological behaviour.

  2. I appreciate your comments. I suspect the husband in the movie, Gaslight, was both a psychopath and a narcissist. It is not unusual for those conditions to co-occur.

    Both Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder exhibit acting out behavior (impulsive behavior), but the intentionality is quite different. BPD's impulsivity often is due to cognitive and emotional dysregulation, whereas APD's frequently is calculated and intentional. Lately I have been watching Netflix's House of Cards re: fictional Washington DC politicians. The main character, Frank Underwood, is a great example of an APD. He acts out in outrageous ways, but with an eye to how it will benefit his end game. BPD don't have this kind of careful cognitive control.

    Thank you for your comments!