Psychology also has its place in the seventh art. Of course, practically any film can offer a psychological reading of its characters or the way of thinking of whoever directed it. In fact, not only the big screen offers us plots with high psychological content, but TV series are also achieving it And, obviously, documentaries can also give you extensive knowledge on the subject However, the list of films on psychology that you will find below is especially recommended for anyone interested in studying and understanding this discipline and the content it works on.
Movies about psychology of yesterday and today
Let’s start with the compilation of psychological cinema.
The Prince of Tides (1991)
Romantic melodrama directed by Barbra Streisand based on the self-titled book written by Pat Conroy. Although it is a story based on love and forgiveness, it also talks about childhood trauma and the imprint they can leave in adult life in the form of PTSD.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
This is a movie that focuses on the psychological consequences of suffering a physical impairment. The protagonist, former editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, is locked in his own body due to the so-called cloistered syndrome, unable to move anything voluntarily except one eye. From this moment on, this eye will be the only communication window that will keep him in contact with other people and that will allow him to write an autobiographical book, the same one on which this film was based and with which it shares a 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.
Someone flew over the cuckoo’s nest (1975)
In this film starring the illustrious Jack Nicholson, essential problems of the tradition on which many mental institutions are based are shown: overdiagnosis, the undervaluation of the inmate as the agent responsible for his own life, the typecasting of people using diagnostic labels, and invasive methods to change behavior patterns. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ken Kesey and at the time garnered many awards due to its perfect technical finish and the humanistic message it conveys.
It combines a perfect exemplification of what antegrade amnesia is (a disorder in which no new memories are formed) with a way of narrating that makes us better understand this type of disorder. The film is made up of two types of scenes, one in black and white and the other in color, which go back and forth in time to leave us at all times with the confused feeling that we are missing something to understand what is going on. going. The film also makes us wonder where the identity is when the memory is not there to connect all the experiences we live.
Take Shelter (2011)
An ordinary father of a family begins to yield to the fear of a possible apocalypse without being subject to any rational explanation. From that moment, he enters a spiral of hasty decisions without us knowing if he has reasons to do so or if it is delusions. This film can be included in a list of films on psychology because of the sensations it makes us experience, although what it tries to explain to us is more a metaphor about the American lifestyle, deeply based on private property, than an illustration about the mental mechanisms of paranoia.
Funny Games (1997)
A family of vacationers is kidnapped in their own home by a couple of men who are dressed as golfers. Based on that premise, Austrian director Michael Haneke spends more than an hour showing 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 metafiction component in which the viewer is directly challenged by what they are seeing, which does not help to make the film lighter. There are also occasions when reference is made to the fact that everything that happens is part of a film in which the will of the golfing couple prevails, which reinforces the feeling that they have everything under control and that behind his apparent impulsiveness there is a framework of perverse rationality. Film not recommended for sensitive stomachs.
I’m 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 woman is admitted to a psychiatric hospital because of her hallucinations. It is a love movie in which the suitor, who is also hospitalized, is climbing the steps of the parallel reality that the protagonist has created, understanding her hidden logic, to help her. A curious and profound film at the same time.
The Experiment (2001)
A list of movies about psychology cannot exclude the social aspect of our behavior. The experiment is a film based on the Stanford prison experiment, which was made in 1971 under the baton of 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 abruptly by escaping from the control of the experimenters, it was possible to see to what extent social elements as superficial as group membership can totally change the morality of people. If you study psychology, you should see this movie as soon as possible.
Better … impossible (1997)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is portrayed here with humor. Melvin Udall (again Jack Nicholson) builds his day to day out of unshakable little routines and a unique ability to be detestable. Udall lets compulsions and repetitive patterns of behavior dictate his life until a day comes when a novelty crosses his path and changes his character for good.
Clockwork Orange (1971)
One of Stanley Kubrick’s great classics, based on a novel of the same name. The protagonist is used to a life of violence and lack of control due to a probable antisocial personality disorder. When he is imprisoned, a group of technicians decide to try him on a method of suppressing 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 regardless of the person’s will. This futuristic dystopia is considered by many to be the queen of psychology films by focusing both on psychological mechanisms and on a discussion of the existence of these and the role of modern psychiatry.
The Truman Show (1998)
One of the best-known movies of those starring actor Jim Carrey, who this time abandons the comic record that characterizes him to embody a man who has lived his entire life on a gigantic television set without knowing it. Incidentally, this work gave its name to a type of delusion recently discovered.
The Witch (2015)
A recently released film that has garnered great fame. It tells the story 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 surroundings of her house and the strong religious faith of the family will gradually lead to delusional ideas.
American History X (1998)
The story of two skinheads brothers of National Socialist ideology who are slowly emerging from 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 whom we identify, from the outgroup, those with whom we try to compete.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
An American thriller that has become one of the most remembered cult psychological movies. Based on the eponymous novel by writer Thomas Harris, it depicts a part of the life of Hannibal Lecter, a cannibalistic psychopath with a history as a serial killer.
I am Sam (2001)
The story of a mentally handicapped man played by Sean Penn who struggles by all means to maintain custody of his daughter. To do this, he has the help of a lawyer (Michelle Pfeiffer) who, little by little, will see his client as an example of dignity and determination. This film talks about the willpower and motivation that leads a person to break the limits that he believed limited him.
An excellent psychological film that uses the resources of the science-fiction genre to explore two topics closely related to psychology and psycholinguistics: the grief 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 used to using.
The excuse for talking 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.
The Black Swan (2010)
One of director Darren Aronofsky’s best-known psychological films. The black swan talks about how the need to seek limitless perfection, competitiveness and the lack of moments of intimacy can come to seize a person to the point of breaking her mind.
A classic of the cinema. He talks about a man who, to combat his insomnia and his boredom, decides to start working as a taxi driver at night. Little by little, he will try to find a relevant task to make sense of his existence, although this endangers him. and others.
Rain Man (988)
If you are looking for a psychology movie 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 with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and who begins to relate to a brother whom he hardly knows.
An Almost Funny Story (2010)
Craig, a teenager with severe depression is sent to a psychiatric center. There, as the area of people his age is full, he will have to live with adults, where he will befriend a man named Bob (Zack Galifianakis) and Noelle (Emma Roberts), another girl of similar age.