Films that Got Mental Illness Wrong

Films that Got Mental Illness Wrong

Everyone loves a thrilling story with relatable characters. Many popular movies and TV shows over the years have portrayed different types of people with different types of struggles. Particularly, plenty of films have depicted those who struggle with different mental illnesses. Let’s look at some of the worst offenders for films that got mental illness wrong.

Films that Got Mental Illness Wrong

But unfortunately, not all of these movies are accurate. It is important to consider the validity and normalcy of different mental health struggles without romanticizing their symptoms. Your local cognitive therapy experts want you to know about some of the most popular films that got mental illness wrong. Learn about destigmatizing mental illness with these facts.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!


Perhaps the original slasher movie, Psycho portrays an emotionally and mentally disturbed man who murders hotel guests and laments over his controlling mother. Later on in the film, he portrays a “split personality” as he dresses and takes on the personality of his mother who is deceased.

Not only does the film wrongly portray people dealing with dissociative identity disorder and emotional imbalance, but it also infers that crossdressing is a mental illness as well. There is a long list of mental health inaccuracies in this film, which dates itself by many decades.

A Beautiful Mind

Not only did A Beautiful Mind win the Oscar for Best Picture in 2002, but it also won awards for its portrayal of real-life economist John Nash. The film shows the man’s genius as a mathematician and strategist, but also his struggle with schizophrenia. While John Nash was diagnosed with schizophrenia, his relationship with the disorder was nothing like what it was in the movie.

The movie shows Nash wrapped up in a conspiracy plot to interpret codes against the Soviet government, and these figures even drive him around town. Later, it turns out to be a fabrication in Nash’s head. This is not how real schizophrenia works.

The Visit

Another horror film that depicts mental illness as the villain of the story, The Visit is a bad example of the word “crazy.” The plot consists of two teenagers who are traveling to visit their maternal grandparents for the first time. Not even knowing what their grandparents look like, the children are accepted into the home of an old couple.

Later, the movie shows that these older folks are not their real grandparents. They are two patients who escaped from an asylum and murdered the real grandparents to assume their role. An inaccurate portrayal of schizophrenia and untreated mental illness can cause a stigma of fear and bad intent among those struggling with their health.

How to Remove Mental Health Stigma from Your Life

So many movies and programs put mental health in a bad light. This creates a societal stigma against any form of struggle with mental illness. By removing this stigma from your life, you can have a much more positive association with your mental and emotional struggles and seek proper treatment in an affirming way.

Here are some tips to start destigmatizing mental health:

Center the person, not the illness. For example, say “my friend is struggling with addiction” instead of saying “my friend is an addict.”

  • Get rid of derogatory words. Think about how often you use the words “crazy,” “insane,” or “mental” to describe something. Is there a non-stigmatizing word you can use instead? Try “wild” or “ridiculous”!
  • Remember that everyone is human. People struggling with mental illness tend to feel extremely isolated from society because nobody wants to talk to them or treat them as equals. Remember that they are your friends, family, and neighbors!

By breaking down the barriers that keep us from learning about mental health, we can start to understand it a lot more. This can also help you to understand yourself so it will become easier to get the care you need.

Find Expert Mental Healthcare Today

Movies and media are not a great place to learn about mental health. It’s okay to have questions and uncertainties about the way you are feeling. You can learn healthy ways to manage your emotions and deal with whatever struggles you may be facing. We can help you find the best cognitive therapy in NYC and connect you with a caring specialist who will understand your specific needs. Give us a call now and teach yourself the skills to find more agency in your life!