Mental Illness in the Movies

I have always been fond of movies attempting to depict mental illness, it calls for much controversial debate as to surrealism vs. realism and social stigma vs. the individual character. I’m sure psychologists would raise an eyebrow or two over the decade of cinema aiming to convey mental illness and its vast complexities. But, right or wrong, I love a movie that keeps you guessing over whether a character is a ‘psycho’ or if the plot is intended to make no coherent narative sense at all. These are cinematic delights.

Below is a long list (316 to be exact) of movies dealing with various themes of ‘mental illness’. I’ve stolen this list from MUBI and give full credit to Kenji for coming up with such a phenomenal collection. It’s certainly worthy of a share. Here’s an extract of what he has to say about his list:

“I’ve been given pause for thought on this list, in connection with oppressive ableism. My intention here is not to promote ableist views of mental illness, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, as marks of inferiority, absurdity or faultiness, often leading to casting out as “other”, but the opposite. However, precisely by placing dangerous and abhorrent bigotry, racism, sexism, nationalism alongside individual mental anguish, i may be also casting the latter into disrepute rather than deserving help. There is a difference between society’s damaging attitudes and irrational actions and those who suffer yet are considered ill. I’m against society condemning certain groups- and beyond mental health- as “abnormal” and better out of sight or done away with altogether. There’s far too much stigma attached to people with certain mental health problems or who have needed professional help. As well as arbitrary or damaging cut-offs between mental normality and abnormality, dominant notions of “handicap”, “impairment”, compared with socially-imposed disability, still need to be challenged. Greater empathy rather than disparaging assumptions would help us all.”

The long but charming list:



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