Film, Mental Health and Therapy

  • Gurvinder Kalra
  • Dinesh Bhugra
  • Antonio Ventriglio
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture book series (PASCC)


For more than a century, films have played a crucial role in shaping our social, political and cultural psyche by portraying a range of psychosocial issues through some interesting story lines and characters. Many of these stories have made a lasting impact on our collective conscious, often entertaining and educating us in the process. The authors of this chapter focus on the portrayal of mental illness and therapy in some selected films and how these shape our perception as a society and more importantly as health-care professionals. The chapter also briefly provides some guidance on how we as responsible health-care professionals and health advocates can influence film portrayals of mental illness and therapy.


  1. Akthar, S. (2005). Freud Along the Ganges: Psychoanalytic Reflections on the People and Culture of India. New York: Other Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alexander, M., Lenahan, P., & Pavlov, A. (2005). Cinemeducation: A Comprehensive Guide to Using Film in Medical Education. Abingdon: Radcliffe.Google Scholar
  3. Andrade, C., Shah, N., & Venkatesh, B. (2010). The Depiction of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Hindi Cinema. Journal of ECT, 26(1), 16–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bergstrom, J. (1999). Introduction: Parallel Lines. In J. Bergstrom (Ed.), Endless Night: Cinema and Psychoanalysis (pp. 1–23). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bhugra, D. (2005). Mad Tales from Bollywood: Portrayal of Mental Illness in Conventional Hindi Cinema. Oxford: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  6. Bhugra, D., & Kalra, G. (2015). Applying Psychoanalysis to Hindi Cinema. In L. Huskinson, & T. Waddell (Eds.), Eavesdropping: The Psychotherapist in Film and Television. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-81409-6.Google Scholar
  7. Campbell, N. N., Heath, J., Bouknight, J., Rudd, K., & Pender, J. (2009). Speaking out for Mental Health: Collaboration of Future Journalists and Psychiatrists. Academic Psychiatry, 33(2), 166–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chakrabarti, S., Grover, S., & Rajagopal, R. (2010). Perceptions and Awareness of Electroconvulsive Therapy Among Patients and their Families: A Review of the Research from Developing Countries. Journal of ECT, 26(4), 317–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Collins, A. (2017). One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Dean Brooks - Psychiatry in the Movies. British Journal of Psychiatry, 210(4), 297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davidson, L., Rakfeldt, J., & Strauss, J. (2010). The Roots of the Recovery Movement in Psychiatry: Lessons Learned. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Furst, B. A. (2007). Bowlby Goes to the Movies: Film as a Teaching Tool for Issues of Bereavement, Mourning and Grief in Medical Education. Academic Psychiatry, 31, 407–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gartrell, N., Herman, J., Olarte, S., Feldstein, M., & Localio, R. (1986). Psychiatrist-Patient Sexual Contact: Results of a National Survey. I: Prevalence. American Journal of Psychiatry, 143(9), 1126–1131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hesley, J. W., & Hesley, J. G. (1998). Rent Two Films and Let’s Talk in the Morning: Using Popular Movies in Psychotherapy. Wiley: University of California.Google Scholar
  14. Hesley, J. W., & Hesley, J. G. (2001). Rent Two Films and Let’s Talk in the Morning: Using Popular Movies in Psychotherapy (2nd ed.). Wiley: University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  15. Kalra, G. (2011). Psychiatry Movie Club: A Novel Way to Teach Psychiatry. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 53, 258–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kalra, G. (2013). Sensitizing Psychiatry Trainees Towards Male Homosexuality: A Movie Club Approach. Journal of Contemporary Medical Education, 1(2), 106–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kalra, G. (2015). Hijras in Bollywood Cinema. International Journal of Transgenderism, 16, 160–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  19. Lehman, P., & Luhr, W. (2003). Thinking About Movies: Watching, Questioning, Enjoying. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Mazur, M. A., & Emmers-Sommer, T. M. (2002). The Effect of Movie Portrayals on Audience Attitudes About Non-Traditional Families and Sexual Orientation. Journal of Homosexuality, 44(1), 157–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McDonald, A., & Walter, G. (2009). Hollywood and ECT. International Review of Psychiatry, 21(3), 200–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McFarquhar, T. F., & Thompson, J. (2008). Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Electroconvulsive Therapy Among Medical Students and the General Public. Journal of ECT, 24(4), 244–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pautz, M. C. (2015). Argo and Zero Dark Thirty: Film, Government, and Audiences. Political Science & Politics, 48(1), 120–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Quadrio, C. (1996). Sexual Abuse in Therapy: Gender Issues. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 30, 125–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Schoener, G. R., & Gonsiorek, J. C. (1989). Assessment and Development of Rehabilitation Plans for the Therapist. In G. R. Schoener, J. C. Gonsiorek, J. H. Milgrom, E. T. Luepker, & R. M. Conroe (Eds.), Psychotherapists’ Sexual Involvement with Clients: Intervention and Prevention (pp. 401–420). Walk-In Counseling Center: Minneapolis.Google Scholar
  26. Sharma, B., & Malik, M. (2013). Bollywood Madness and shock Therapy: A Qualitative and Comparative Analysis of Depiction of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Indian Cinema and Hollywood. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, 6(2), 130–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Teh, S. P., Helmes, E., & Drake, D. G. (2007). A Western Australian Survey on Public Attitudes Toward and Knowledge of Electroconvulsive Therapy. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 53(3), 247–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wedding, D., & Niemiec, R. M. (2014). Movies and Mental Illness: Using Films to Understand Psychopathology (4th ed.). Boston: Hogrefe Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gurvinder Kalra
    • 1
  • Dinesh Bhugra
    • 2
  • Antonio Ventriglio
    • 3
  1. 1.Flynn Acute Adult Inpatient Psychiatric UnitLatrobe Regional Hospital Mental Health ServicesTraralgonAustralia
  2. 2.Health Service & Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Institute of Clinical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of FoggiaFoggiaItaly

Personalised recommendations