Show me a clip with real personality...
April 18, 2011 12:34 AM   Subscribe

I am seeking movies and clips of individuals with personality disorders, for a lecture I will be giving to college students. Any great ideas?

I've got the standard lecture, but would like to make things a bit more interesting by showing how some disorders are portrayed in film and popular culture. I hope to end up with a series of you tube clips or similar to discuss over a three hour lecture period.

Dexter is a pretty good portrayal of psychopathy, and Huff had some great scenes with a borderline, but I'm looking for some other good examples to share. I may end up making an extra credit assignment where they can compare the image of a movie character with the disorder they are supposed to be portraying.
posted by gilsonal to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Off the top of my head:

Girl, Interrupted - for more borderline.
United States of Tara - Dissociative identity disorder
What About Bob? - Obsessive-compulsive
As Good As It Gets - Another obsessive-compulsive

Hope these help!
posted by Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld at 12:48 AM on April 18, 2011

Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve.
posted by Houstonian at 1:00 AM on April 18, 2011

Voices Within, based on Truddi Chase's amazing autobiography When Rabbit Howls - disassociative identity disorder. Made-for-TV-movie stars Shelley Long. I'm not normally a fan, but she did a reasonable job.
posted by likeso at 1:32 AM on April 18, 2011

And I know it's not in the category you're looking for, but I remember enjoying I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, based on the book of the same name by Joanne Greenberg.
posted by likeso at 1:37 AM on April 18, 2011

if you need some comic relief, nothing beats Kathleen Turner in Serial Mom (psychopathy, disassociative disorders, OCD)
posted by sexyrobot at 1:43 AM on April 18, 2011

Lodge Kerrigan: Clean, Shaven & Keane
posted by rhizome at 1:47 AM on April 18, 2011

A beautiful mind Schizophrenia
posted by b33j at 1:48 AM on April 18, 2011

Rainman autism
Girl interrupted
posted by b33j at 1:53 AM on April 18, 2011

Frankie & Alice multiple personality disorder
posted by b33j at 1:57 AM on April 18, 2011

Best answer: List already drawn up by someone here:
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:00 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by likeso at 2:20 AM on April 18, 2011

posted by londonmark at 2:33 AM on April 18, 2011

I'm not sure if the film version touches on this, and it's not precisely a personality disorder, but the character of Brideshead (aka "Bridie") in "Brideshead Revisited"--an obsessively committed match box collector--is plainly an example of Aspergers.
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:18 AM on April 18, 2011

There's a bit of overlap with the answers to this question, you might find some of those answers useful.
posted by NoraReed at 3:39 AM on April 18, 2011

The recent HBO miniseries remake of Mildred Pierce showed a case of narcissistic personality disorder in Mildred's daughter Veda.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:01 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You also might find clips in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Another list of films is in Wikipedia's Mental illness in film entry, and yet another in the List of films featuring mental illness (this one divided by disorder, but with the unfortunate inclusion of things like learning disabilities listed as mental illness).
posted by Houstonian at 4:14 AM on April 18, 2011

Not a personality disorder, per se, but Bug is really freaking amazing for purposes of this sort.
posted by zizzle at 5:26 AM on April 18, 2011

Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory - Asperger's and OCD.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:39 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

In Seinfeld, season 4, there's a character called "Crazy Joe Davola." This guy is said to be off his medication, and he ends up stalking both Jerry and Elaine. You see him at both his craziest and his most dangerous in the episode, "The Opera."

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Fight Club. And don't forget The Snake Pit, which was famous for making the public think about the state of mental institutions.
posted by meese at 6:23 AM on April 18, 2011

Best answer: 12 Monkeys: Brad Pitt plays someone with a possible diagnosis of schizophrenia.

BTW, while googling for "12 monkeys" and "schizophrenia" I found a link to the following assignment, which includes a list of movies paired with possible diagnoses, courtesy of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology: word document. In case you can't open it, here is the entire list:

Generalized: MAYBE Breakfast Club, Ally Sheed (Allison)
Phobia of heights: High Anxiety, Mel Brooks (Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke) – OK
Phobia of heights: Vertigo, James Stewart (Scottie Ferguson)
Agoraphobia: Copycat, Sigourney Weaver (Helen Hudson)
Agoraphobia: I am Sam, Dianne Weist (neighbor of Sam)
Panic and Anxiety: Analyze This, Robert DiNiro (Paul Viti)
Anxiety or PTSD: Bringing out The Dead, Nicolas Cage (Frank Pierce)
Obsessive Compulsive
As Good as it Gets, Jack Nicholson (Melvin Udall)
Conspiracy Theory, Mel Gibson (Jerry Fletcher); alternate diag: Anxiety or Schizophrenia
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The Client, Brad Renfro (Mark Sway)
In the Line of Fire, Clint Eastwood (Frank Horrigan)
Rambo, Sylvester Stallone (John Rambo)

Hannah and her Sisters, Woody Allen (Mickey)
Send Me No Flowers, Rock Hudson (George)

Ordinary People, Timothy Hutton (Conrad) – good one! Depr and guilt after brother dies. The mother also has major control issues.
Everything Put Together, Radha Mitchell (Angie) – depr after child dies
Afterglow, Julie Christie (Phyllis Mann) – depr after marriage fails
Mrs. Brown, Judy Dench (Queen Victoria) – depr after husband dies
Breakfast Club () – guy brings in gun; threatens suicide? But he maybe isn’t really depressed (more fun – threatens suicide but doesn’t want to do it.)
Bipolar Disorder
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Jack Nicholson (Randle P. McMurphy)
In The Best Interest of the Children (mother)
Mr. Jones, Richard Gere (Mr, Jones)

Rainman, Dustin Hoffman (Raymond)
Mercury Rising, Simon (Miko Highes)

Learning Disability / MR
Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks (Forrest)
I am Sam, Sean Penn (Sam Dawson)
The Other Sister, Juliette Lewis (Carla Tate)
The Other Sister, Giovanni Ribisi (Daniel)
Benny & Joon (Sim to The Other Sister, but has Johnny Depp, who is much cuter than Giovanni Ribisi)
Flowers for Algernon

Attention Deficit Disorder
ADD: I am Sam, Ifty (Doug Hutchison

Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe (John Forbes Nash)
The Shining, Danny Lloyd (Danny) if you assume that he is hallucinating
The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment (Cole Sear) again, assume hallucinations
Paranoia: I am Sam, Stanley DeSantis (Robert)
Catatonia: Don’t Say a Word, Brittany Murphy (Elisabeth Burrows)

Borderline Personality Disorder
Girl, Interrupted, Winona Ryder (Susanna), or any of the other characters (it’s mostly in a mental institution)

Attachment disorder
Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon (Will Hunting)

Rebellion/ Antisocial personality
Fight Club, Brad Pitt (Tyler Durden) really, he is an alternate personality of the main character.

Psychopath / Antisocial / Sociopath
Silence of The Lambs, Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Hannibal Lechter)
American Psycho, Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman): Serial Killer, psychopath?
In the Line of Fire, killer John Malkovich (Mitch Leary); alternate diag: psychotic
The Shining, Jack Nicholson (Jack Torrance)
Serial Killer: Copycat, Harry Connick, Jr. (Daryll Lee Cullum)
The Jackal, Bruce Willis, (the Jackal)

Substance Abuse

28 Days, Sandra Bullock (Gwen Cummings)
The Blackout, Matthew Modine (Matty)
Requiem for a Dream, any character

Dissociative Identity Disorder
Fight Club, Edward Norton (Jack)
Me, Myself, and Irene, Jim Carrey (Charlie)
Can’t find Three Lives and Only One Death, Marcello Mastroianni (Mateo Strano)
Loose Cannons, Dan Ackroyd (Ellis) Possible faking
Can’t find Sybil, Sally Field
The Three Faces of Eve, Joanne Woodward (Sybil is better!)
Primal Fear, Edward Norton (Aaron Stampler) faking
Separate Lives, Linda Hamilton (Lauren Porter) obvious

Gender Identity Issues
Transsexualism: Boys Don’t Cry, Hilary Swank (Brandon Teena)
Seven (if it contains RuPaul)

Munchausen By Proxy
Misery, Kathy Bates (Annie Wilkes) Schizophrenia is also OK

Eating Disorders
Empire Records, Liv Tyler (Corey): Anorexia Nervosa

Not yet classified
She’s so Lovely Sean Penn (Eddie) Possible diag: MDD
Story of Us (not clinical really: it’s marriage counseling)
Hannah and her Sisters, Dianne Weist (Holly) Poss Diag: Neurotic
Lethal Weapon, Mel Gibson (Martin Riggs): Possible diag: depression (suicidal) or Bipolar
Apocalypse Now, Martin Sheen (Capt. Willard)
Apocalypse Now, Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) poss diag; psychotic
Nell, Jodie Foster (Nell): language development
Finding Forrester, Sean Connery (William Forrester); Possible diag: anxiety disorder
12 Monkeys, Brad Pitt (Jeffrey Goines) Possible diag.: schizophrenia
12 Monkeys, Bruce Willis (James Cole) Possible schizophrenia
The Color of Night, Jane March (Rosa); Possible diag: DID
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Will Sampson (Chief Bromdem); Possible diag.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Girl, Interrupted, Brittany Murphy (Daisy); Possible diag: MDD,
Fatal Attraction, Glenn Close (Alex) Possible diag: Boarderline
Requiem for a Dream, Ellen Burstyn (Sara) Possible diag: Subst. Abuse, schizophrenia,Anorexia
Memento, Guy Pierce (Leonard Shelby) Possible diag: dissociative amnesia
What About Bob?, Bill Murray (Bob Wiley) Possible diag: OCD, hypochondriasis
Overboard, Goldie Hawn (Joanna/Annie) Possible diag: Dissociative amnesia
The Ring, Daveigh Chase (Samara) Mother shows Munchausen by Proxy, possible to argue so does Samara (she kills people to draw attention to her own murder; it’s a stretch!)
Red Dragon, Ralph Fiennes (Dolarhyde) Possible diag: schizophrenia, social phobias
Deer Hunter, John Savage (Steven) Possible diag: PTSD
Born on the Fourth of July, Tom Cruise (Ron Kovic) PTSD
Don’t Say a Word, Brittany Murphy (Elisabeth Burrows) Possible diag: PTSD
Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Lynn Whitfield (Brandi Web); OCD
Nurse Betty, Renee Zellweger (Betty Sizemore) Possible diag: Amnesia
Psycho, (Norman Bates) Possible diag: DID

Stargate, Kurt Russel, Col. Jonathan “Jack” O’Neil PTSD
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Hayden Christensen, Anakin Skywalker PTSD
There’s something about Mary, Chris Elliot, Don Woganowski OCD
Lethal Weapon, Martin Riggs: Bipolar
21 Grams, Benecito Del Toro, Jack PTSD
Farewell My Concubine (1993), Douzi, Leslie Cheung, Gender Identity Disorder
A Pure Formality (1995), Onoff, Gerard Depardieu, Schizophrenia
Ordinary People, Conrad: Student tried to do PTSD
Misery, Annie Wilkes: Schizophrenia fits well
Conspiracy Theory. Jerry Fletcher: PTSD (stretch) Students either assumed that it wasn’t OCD or assumed it wasn’t
Fearless, Max Klein (Jeff Bridges) Schizoid personality?
Super Troopers(2001) Ken Heffernan, Officer Rod Farva, Histrionic personalty disorder
American Beauty (1999) Barbara Fitts. Allison Janney, Schizoid Personality
The Hours, (2002) Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), depression
Laura Brown (Julianne Moor), suicidal depression
No character name (Woody Allen), neuroses
The caveman’s valentine (2001) Romulus Ledbetter (Samuel L. Jackson), paranoid schizophrenic
Blue Sky (1994) Carly Marshall (Jessica Lange) manic
K-Pax (2001) Prot (Kevin Spacey), schizophrenia
For the Love ov Nancy (1994), Nancy Walsh (Tracy Gold), anorexia
Dying to dance (2001), Alyssa Lennox ( Kimberly McCullogh), Anorexia
Quadrophenia (1979) Jimmy (Phil Daniels), MPD
House of Cards (1992) Sally (Asha Menina), PTSD with autism
Matchstick Men (2003) Roy Waller (Nicholas Cage), OCD
posted by googly at 7:28 AM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

I really don't feel that Rainman is the best example of someone on the autism spectrum. The quoting of Wheel of Fortune, reciting numbers, sure, but a lot of the other stuff...I don't know. And Tom Cruise's girlfriend kissing him seemed exploitative and squicked me right out (but that could just be me).

However, the kid in Mercury Rising is spot on. Also, House of Cards deals with some autistic behaviors, though in the case of that movie, they are brought on by trauma and so there is kind of a 'cure' for a feel-good ending.

Now, would Memento count as someone with a personality disorder? It's more a series of behaviors brought on by a psychological condition, but I'm throwing it out there.

This study with 4 movies and the ratings viewers gave the characters re: personality disorders might interest you.
posted by misha at 7:32 AM on April 18, 2011

Oh, and in Love, Actually, Laura Linney's brother is (apparently) schizophrenic. I can't find clips of her phone call from him or her visit to him in the institution, but I found those scenes very moving.
posted by misha at 8:09 AM on April 18, 2011

There is also a substantial body of work including video that critiques portrayals of disabilities including mental health conditions in movies, see, e.g., Shameless: The Art of Disability.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:54 AM on April 18, 2011

The Winnie the Pooh cartoons is great showcase for different personality types.
posted by mungaman at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2011

I just went to a training on personality dx and the presenter referenced the characters on Seinfeld. He said each of them was patterned after a real person with an axis II diagnosis. Jerry had Narcissistic PD (patterned after Larry David), Elaine had Borderline PD (patterned after one of the show's producers), Kramer had Schizotypal PD and I can't remember what George had. The presenter was Dr. Gregory Lester and in the back of the workbook we got, he had pages and pages of examples of personality disorders in popular culture. Why don't you google him to get more info? Good luck!
posted by rglass at 6:20 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some people feel that Temperance Brennan on Bones (FOX) must have Asperger's, although it's never specifically mentioned on the show. As to whether she's an accurate portrayal of that is another matter.
posted by katyggls at 9:27 PM on April 18, 2011

Damien Day in Drop The Dead Donkey is often said to be such a good reporter because he is a sociopath - I think in one episode the whole team have psychiatric profiling.

Sherlock in the recent BBC series refers to himself as a 'high functioning sociopath'.
posted by mippy at 7:45 AM on April 19, 2011

Zack from the earlier seasons of Bones might qualify better for Asperger's. Brennan suffers more from a dramatically shifting set of personality traits over the course of several seasons, which has not yet made it into the DSM as far as I know.
posted by NoraReed at 11:42 PM on April 22, 2011

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