Writing about mental illness can be tricky because everyone’s perception is fundamentally different. Making films about mental illness is twice as tricky because films are a staple of popular culture and expose a wide audience to a very personal issue. Listed below are 10 hyper-specific mental disorders and 10 films that do (at least) a half-decent job at demonstrating how they work and how people with these disorders feel.
1. Alice in Wonderland
The Alice in Wonderland syndrome takes its name from the scene in the book where Alice finds herself shrunken, making everyday objects seem giant compared to her. The real-life consequences of this disorder haven’t (as of now) been shown in any movie, but a great visual of this disorder can obviously be found in the Alice in Wonderland movie or animated film.
Erotomania is being a fangirl/fanboy on a whole new level. People with erotomania are often physically attracted to and enamored by celebrities and politicians, and they believe (quite strongly) that every interview and public appearance of said celebrity has a secret message. They believe that the celebrities make subtle hints and send secret messages that confirm the person’s belief that the celebrity is also secretly attracted to them. Even when they are given a clear “no” signal, they believe there is an undercurrent of “yes” behind it. Marion Cotillard’s character in From the Land of the Moon demonstrates how erotomania affects the lives of ordinary people.
Sufferers of paraphrenia (not to be mistaken with Megalomania) are often victims of delusions of grandeur. If people with megalomania simply believe themselves to be God’s gift to earth, sufferers of paraphrenia also often feel paranoid, believing that everyone in their surrounding is out to get them. Any documentary about Napoleon Bonaparte will be a great depiction of paraphrenia.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (more commonly referred to as OCD) typically involves obsessions with order, cleanliness, and security. People with OCD often want everything in their environment to be perfect and are thrown off balance by misplaced objects, cracks in the road, or dust on their coffee table. While love for cleanliness is not the real problem, sufferers of OCD find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of trying to control their environment, which gets in the way of their everyday responsibilities. As Good as It Gets shows Jack Nicholson overcoming his OCD in the name of love.