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10 films that psychology students love

A Beautiful Mind (2001)


John Nash is a young math student in the late 1940s who is brilliant but doesn't get along with people and is very uncomfortable with small talk. While everyone else is busy publishing, John is waiting for his big thought. It actually comes to him and his publication opens the doors to the best jobs for him. The Department of Defense recruits John and he is supposed to quickly decipher Soviet codes at the highest level of government security. But then his world seems to go upside down: After an incident, he is admitted to a psychiatric ward and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. John thinks the diagnosis is Moscow's work and its doctors are Soviet spies.

But he has to face the truth. “A Beautiful Mind” tells in a touching and exciting way about the career of one of the greatest minds of the 20th century - and also the illness that raged in this head for decades. Although the film leaves out large parts of Nash's life, such as his repeated stays in Europe, and also glorifies his marriages and the role of his wife, it paints a detailed picture of schizophrenia with paranoia, hallucinations and affective disorders.

John Nash died last year at the age of 86 in a traffic accident with his wife on their way back from receiving the prestigious Abel Prize.

Marnie (1964)

Marnie is a young kleptomaniac who stole $ 10,000 from her boss and is already looking for the next lucrative job. She tries it with Mark, whom she met earlier in her old job. He knows that she is a kleptomaniac, but hires her anyway because he finds Marnie attractive. However, Marnie is not only afraid of thunderstorms and the color red, but also of men.

To avoid Mark's advances, she quickly follows her compulsion, but is caught by Mark who, instead of handing her over to the police, tries to find out what the young woman is up to. Alfred Hitchcock has made several films that psychology students love, including “Psycho” (1960) and “The Birds” (1963); all three films, which came into the cinemas one after the other, are based on literature and deal with the main character's difficulties with their mothers or mother characters. “Marnie” is the most diverse, but it was also the least successful, partly because the reviews were rather poor and criticized that the psychological approach behind the film was obsolete.

The Experiment (2001)

The taxi driver Tarek becomes aware of an experiment that will soon be carried out through a newspaper advertisement. Like the other 19 test subjects, he receives 4,000 DM for this. In the experiment, the participants are randomly divided into ten guards and ten prisoners and from then on live in this role distribution in an artificial prison. The guards are given batons, but the experiment is to be stopped immediately as soon as someone uses force. Tarek is classified as a prisoner and shows disobedience from the start. When he stirs up the other äft inmates ’, the guards crack down on them. The attempt escalated completely within a few days. "The Experiment" received mixed reviews, but also additional attention because Philip Zimbardo, the investigator of the Stanford Prison Experiment, on which the film is based, complained against the advertising message that the film was based on real events. The Stanford Prison Experiment carried out in 1971 got so out of hand after six of the 14 planned days of testing that it had to be stopped; however, nobody was permanently harmed, as is the case in “The Experiment”. Zimbardo won.

Disgust (1965)

Carol is very pretty and well-liked by men, but the young woman is also very introverted and finds physicality repulsive. When her admirer attacks her with a kiss, she quickly brushes her teeth and her sister, with whom she shares the apartment, has to listen to lovemaking, fills her with disgust. When her sister goes on vacation, Carol loses touch with reality, holed up in the apartment and fell into delusional fantasies in which hands grab her and ghostly male figures wander through the apartment. When her admirer worries about her because she hasn't gone to work for days, he gains access to the apartment.

Disaster strikes - but Carol's nightmare is far from over. Paranoid schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder make life hell for the silently suffering heroes in this dark, great thriller by Roman Polanski. For the leading actress Catherine Deneuve, “disgust” was an international breakthrough - just like for Polanski, who shot two other pessimistic thrillers that are set in an apartment and became known as the “tenant trilogues”. In addition to “Disgust”, the series consists of “Rosemary's Baby” (1968), in which a woman carries the devil's child, and “The Tenant” (1976), in which a young man, Polanski plays the lead role himself, in paranoid Loses delusions.


Crazy (1999)


Susanna was taken to a psychiatric ward in the late 1960s after attempting suicide, where she quickly made new friends, including a notorious liar, a neurotic disfigured by burn scars and the introverted Daisy, who cannot eat in front of other people and has an obsessive-compulsive disorder seems. The only problem is the aggressive sociopath Lisa, who is brought back by the police shortly after Susanna's arrival. Susanna herself is diagnosed with a borderline disorder and tolerates the therapy discussions rather negatively. Despite all the difficulties, an intimate friendship develops between the women, but this is put to the test when they try to escape. For psychology students, “Durchgeknallt” is a cornucopia of entertaining illustrative material on various psychological disorders. The focus is of course on the borderline personality Susanna, but the relationship with the sociopath Lisa, for whose portrayal Angelina Jolie won her only Oscar in 2000, is interesting and complex. Unfortunately, “Durchgeknallt” suffers from a vaguely babbling story that doesn't seem to have a goal and doesn't work out a central conflict. The inclined viewer is compensated by the 60s soundtrack and the acting performances of Winona Ryder, Brittany Murphy and Angelina Jolie.

Capote (2005)

In November 1959, a family of four was murdered at their home in a small Kansas village. The perpetrators cannot be caught at first and the residents of the place are disturbed by the gruesome crime. In New York, the writer Truman Capote reads about the events and decides to turn them into a factual novel. With the help of his close friend Harper Lee, he can slowly gain access to the residents who are initially hostile to the eccentric homosexuals with the strange voice.

Then the perpetrators are caught and Capote builds a relationship with them that shapes his whole subsequent life. Truman Capote's diagnosis would most likely amount to Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Capote met the very difficult relationship with his mother with alcohol and the implied refusal to grow up, which was constituted in his fistulous voice, which he retained until his premature death. For his courageous portrayal of the strange poet, Philip Seymour Hoffman received the Oscar for best leading actor. Another reason why psychology students think “Capote” is great is that it lets you trace what it does to a small town if a crime occurs in the most unexpected of ways.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)


Randle is admitted to closed psychiatry for seducing a minor, where his condition is to be assessed. Randle is rebellious from the start, especially towards the bossy head nurse Ratched and makes himself popular with the other patients. When even the otherwise indifferent Chief Bromden expresses his will to want to see a baseball game with the majority of the patients, but Ratched refuses to do so, Randle goes on a sailing excursion with the patients who are voluntarily on the ward. Sister Ratched doesn't just let the reins be taken out of her hand.

“One flew over the cuckoo's nest”, the title of which is derived from an English nursery rhyme, is a cinematic invitation to free oneself from one's chosen immaturity and - in the spirit of Kant - to become active oneself. Although mental illnesses are not explained in great detail in Milos Forman's film and are treated as a minor matter, the dramatic as well as the comedic side of the coin is illuminated extensively. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" won five Academy Awards and is considered the high point of New Hollywood, which then suddenly died and was replaced by dull blockbusters.

Elling (2001)


Elling is slightly autistic and lived in close relationship with his mother for 40 years. When she dies, he hides in a closet and has to be briefed by the police because he cannot develop a normal relationship with the outside world. Two years later he was released and from then on lived with his roommate Kjell Bjarne in an apartment in the middle of Oslo. The two are accompanied by an employee of the social welfare office, but still have to find their way around independently in a world in which neither of them has had interpersonal experience. When Kjell Bjarne, who is still a virgin at 40, starts dating a neighbor, the situation becomes even more difficult.

“Elling” is a very sensitive, very entertaining film about two likeable eccentrics who slowly integrate into the exciting life of a big city. Curiously, it is not the two heroes that are irritating about the film, but only Kjell Bjarne's love-interest Reidun, who is dead drunk and pregnant when it is introduced and who is later shown smoking again and again. This curious circumstance is not commented on by any of the characters and is not even mentioned in the director's commentary. “Elling” was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film, but lost the award to Bosnia (“No Man’s Land”). In 2003 a prequel was released, “Elling - Not Without My Mother”, which was only able to build on the success of the first film to a limited extent. A third part filmed in 2005, which is the continuation of “Elling”, is currently only available in Norwegian.

What about bob? (1991)


Bob is exhausting. The forty year old comes to see his new psychiatrist Dr. Marvin walks in, but he is just about to go on vacation. So he's feeding Bob off with an edition of his newly published book, for which he will soon be interviewed live on television. But Bob immediately feels that Dr. Marvin can help him get his various neuroses, anxiety states and tics under control. That's why he's looking for Dr. Marvin in his vacation spot and nests in his life without even noticing it - much to the displeasure of the psychiatrist, who just can't get rid of Bob. In disbelief, he watches as his new patient wins the sympathy of his family in the blink of an eye. When Bob turns the interview upside down, Dr. Marvin drastic measures.

Richard Dreyfuss and Bill Murray didn't get along at all during the filming. That could be, "What about Bob?" However, they have worked to their advantage, because the characters have their differences in the film too. Psychology students think the film is great because it shows in a very funny way the kind of patient that many psychologists seem to know only too well. In any case, Richard Dreyfuss was often approached by therapists after the film was released, telling him that they had ‘just like that’. Hopefully those affected will find another solution to the problem than Dr. Marvin in the movie.

Aviator (2004)

Howard Hughes is an aviation pioneer, director and partner of changing Hollywood beauties such as Katharine Hepburn and Ava Gardner in the 1940s. Howard is enormously ambitious and wants to build an aircraft that can fly over the weather and thus make scheduled flights much more pleasant. But as his success as an aircraft developer grows, he is increasingly falling for his ticks.

After a crash with a military machine developed by him, which he barely survived, his fear of germs and other dangers to his health increased noticeably. But he has not yet implemented his biggest project - flying a gigantic flying boat with a wingspan of almost 100 meters. It took twelve years to turn the idea for “Aviator” into a finished film. Michael Mann was supposed to direct first, but he left the project because of creative differences. Leonardo DiCaprio finally brought on board Martin Scorsese, with whom he had worked two years earlier on “Gangs Of New York”.

Three more joint projects followed and Scorsese will probably direct the biopic “Sinatra”, for which DiCaprio has not yet been officially confirmed, but at least seems to be the obvious choice.