10 Movies for Psychology Students

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, & Ezra Miller.
Psychology-related themes: Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, & sexual trauma.
Why it’s recommended: The movie perfectly captures the devastating impact that sexual violence can have and the mental illnesses that often arise from it.

2. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Starring: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris & Jennifer Connelly
Psychology-related themes: Abnormal psychology, & psychotic disorders/schizophrenia.
Why it’s recommended: The film sheds light on the life and suffering of a person living with schizophrenia. Psychology students will notice that Nash exhibits many of the symptoms used to diagnose schizophrenia and can follow the increasing intensity of these symptoms and the effect on him and those around him. The film also shows the difficult task of managing the disorder and the importance of social support.

3. The Blind Side (2009)

Starring: Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw & Kathy Bates
Psychology-related themes: Social psychology, including social influence, & family relations.
Why it’s recommended: This film does a good job of highlighting some of the difficulties and misunderstandings that take place when people of different cultures attempt to bridge cultural and racial differences and connect on an intimate level; the film also shows how mutually beneficial this engagement can be.

4. Memento (2001)

Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss & Joe Pantoliano
Psychology-related themes: Neuropsychology & memory loss/amnesia.
Why it’s recommended: Memento deals with a person with short-term memory loss trying to solve a mystery. It is accurate, in many ways, regarding what life might be like for someone who cannot remember for more than a few minutes or seconds at a time. It is fascinating in a cognitive sense, as well as moving and emotionally engaging (and exciting).

5. The Notebook (2004)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands & James Garner
Psychology-related themes: Clinical and social psychology, cultural differences, & Alzheimer’s disease.
Why it’s recommended: The movie examines how love and relationships change over time. It is also relevant to developmental psychology because one of the characters has Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Fight Club (1999)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Ed Norton & Meatloaf.
Psychology-related themes: Anxiety, Depression, & Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Why it’s recommended: Fight Club is a cult classic that challenges societal norms and will make you think re-think the way you live. The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.

7. Black Swan (2010)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis & Vincent Cassel.
Psychology-related themes: Schizophrenia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, & Eating Disorders.
Why it’s recommended: A pure psychological thriller that dives deep into the darkest places inside an artist’s head. The movie does an excellent job of portraying the terror related to psychosis. The Black Swan is a deep and compelling story with outstanding acting and cinematography.  The intertwining of this psychodrama with the story of Swan Lake can only be described as brilliant.

8. Reign Over Me (2007)

Starring: Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle & Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Psychology-related themes: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Why it’s recommended: Reign Over Me is an entertaining movie, replete with laughs and more sober, thought-provoking scenes, but it also demonstrates some of the ways in which PTSD can impact the life of the affected individual as well as everyone in his or her life.

9. Identity (2003)

Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta & Amanda Peet.
Psychology-related themes: Psychotic disorders & forensic psychology.
Why it’s recommended: Identity deals with a unique and controversial disorder. It plays on some misconceptions about the disorder, but has a radical therapy suggestion that is intriguing. It is also an exciting murder mystery.

10. Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

Starring: Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano & Ezra Miller
Psychology-related themes: Psychological Experimentation.
Why it’s recommended: This psychological thriller is based on the notorious true story of Stanford University professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo, who, in 1971, cast 24 student volunteers as prisoners and guards in a simulated jail to examine the source of abusive behaviour in the prison system. The results shocked the world.

Anything we’ve left out? Leave us a comment below and tell us your favourite movie based on psychology related themes.

7 Replies to “10 Movies for Psychology Students”

  1. Ok…great list… some additions:
    1.Split – needs to be right up in your top 10.
    2.Exam – (psychological study of competition, stress, anger, and ambition) *copied text* – this was intense!
    3. Shutter Island – watched ages ago but I remember it leaving me ?
    A beautiful mind and The blind side were excellent!!! I must watch your number 10.

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