As much as TV shows love to put their characters in therapy, so do movies. A lot of movies really like to focus on the mental illness and the therapy is only a small part of it. Here are a few good movies where the therapist has a more prominent role.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – While not actually a therapist, psychiatric ward Nurse Ratched needs to be on any list of movie therapists just for the sheer WTF-ery of her character. Manipulative, evil, and with a loose hand for dispensing medication she does more mental harm than good. If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.
Analyze This – Billy Crystal as the bored therapist whose life gets turned upside down when a mobster comes to him for therapy. Hilarity ensues! Actually this movie isn’t half bad and I like when they have therapists who have their own problems they have to work through.
Good Will Hunting – It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this movie, but I think I prefer Robin William’s portrayal of a medical professional here to him as that obnoxious Patch Adams.
Sixth Sense - Dead psychologists still count, right? (Spoiler Alert) You have to give a dead guy credit to being that committed to his profession. Plus, on my little list here I think he’s actually probably the best therapist. You know what they say about shrinks? The only good one’s a dead one! I don’t know if that’s a real joke or not.
What About Bob — I’ll admit it. I like this movie. Sometimes when I think about progress I am making in my own life, I think of Bill Murray’s OCD sufferer repeating “baby steps” to himself. This movie has Richard Dreyfuss as a man who loves being a therapist so much, he has gone so far as to name his children Sigmund and Anna.
Ordinary People – Honorable mention in this list goes to Judd Hirsch’s Dr. Berger. I’ve never seen Ordinary People, but Dr. Berger always comes up in mentions of good on-screen therapists. If only they had it on Netflix Instant.
Silence of the Lambs – Say what you will about Nurse Ratched, at least she didn’t eat people. Hannibal Lecter is, and always will be, my favorite on-screen psychologist. Sorry Jack Crawford, but I do want Dr. Lecter inside my head.