Movies about psychology: a point-by-point study

The 15 most important psychology documentaries

Psychology and neurobiology are often too complex to be understood by reading alone. Here come 15 documentaries on psychology essential, divided by topic.

Social Psychology Documentaries

Here’s a selection of psychology documentaries that may change the way you see things. Take note!

The Act of Killing (2012).

During the Cold War, Colonel Suharto came to power in Indonesia in a coup d’état. He then led a campaign of communist massacres that left thousands of civilians dead. Act of Killing is an Oscar-nominated documentary for Best Documentary Feature Film in which Anwar Kongo and Herman Coto, two former Suharto mercenaries, explain and recreate the murders they committed years ago as part of their work.

The film consists of mock murders and confessions by paramilitaries who have never been punished for their actions and are still protected by the government. In this story you can see clear instances of depersonalization and objectification of the enemy, very frequent processes in the context of systematic extermination and genocide.

2. The Shock Doctrine (2009)

A landmark documentary on social psychology. This is a film based on Naomi Klein’s famous book, published in 2007 and given the same title. It explains how some unpopular policies can be implemented using fear to create a permanent state of exclusion.

3. Psychological Warfare (2010).

This documentary focuses on the maneuvers and methods by which public opinion has recently been directed toward certain problems, causing millions of people to think a certain way through propaganda and public relations. People featured in The Psychological Warfare Report include Noam Chomsky, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

4. Consent to Production. Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992).

Philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky talks about how the general public is deceived, sometimes by publishing false data and sometimes by omitting important information so that ordinary citizens are not free to make decisions. Chomsky argues that censorship is not necessary to create uniform and predictable views. Throwing in a huge amount of irrelevant data that masks the absence of important information is sufficient to do so.

This explains an example of why freedom can only exist under certain prerequisites (including the availability of all important information). If you’ve ever wondered why everyone has such similar opinions despite the theoretical freedom to run your life, this might give you some clues.

Educational psychology documentaries

5. The Phenomenon of Finland (2011).

This is a documentary on educational psychology and values education . It explores the world’s most popular learning system: the Finnish.

6. Forbidden Education (2012)

An Argentine independent film about the problem of regular education its impact on youth. Other models of the educational system are suggested, although due to the nature of the documentary the possible solution to the gaps in the current educational system remains rather vague.

Most of the following psychology documentaries are presented in a television documentary format and are shorter.

Psychology and neurobiology documentaries

6. The Mystic Brain (2006).

A team of researchers from the University of Montreal study the neural processes that occur during meditation and mystical experiences.

7. Total Isolation (2008).

What happens when your brain is left all alone, devoid of stimuli? This documentary answers the question by examining the brain activity of people in total isolation.

8. Man with 7 Seconds of Memory.

This short documentary explores the life of Clive Wareing, a man who suffers retrograde and anterograde amnesia due to hippocampal injuries, just like the main character of “Memento.” Every 7 seconds, your immediate memories disappear.

9. See, Believe (2010).

A tour of the cerebral and physiological processes that explain optical illusions . This excerpt explains the McGurk effect:

Developmental Psychology Documentaries

10. Why do we talk?

The mechanisms of language revealed in this interesting documentary. Indispensable for students or psychologists interested in language development.

11 The Secret Life of the Brain (2002).

It focuses on the development of the human brain (and the psychological stages that accompany this process) throughout human life.

Documentaries on psychology and mental disorders

12. mary and me (2013).

A documentary about autism that analyzes a case study of a person with the disorder. valuable if you want to know firsthand what an autistic person is like. You can see it here.

13. My Bipolar Child.

Talk about parenting and life with young people with bipolar disorder. You can see it here.

14. 1% Schizophrenia (2006).

A film against the frivolity and prejudice associated with schizophrenia. Directed by Ione Hernandez and produced by Julio Medem of fame.

Documentaries on economic psychology

15. Mind Over Money (2010)

This documentary explores the psychological factors underlying decision making and management of finances and the economy.

The best films to help you understand people’s psychology

Watching movies is great, interesting, and entertaining! And if it makes sense, it’s also good for you. A good film always teaches and makes you think. And, of course, helps to understand people and their psychology. An attentive viewer can learn a lot from looking at the characters in films. For example, in advance to recognize the symptoms of the upcoming actions of a person in real life on the phrases, gestures, facial expressions, body language.

Your training will go much faster and you’ll be able to get more useful information out of film footage if you take our Profiling and Cognitive Science programs. And to make the most of your time, we have prepared for you a selection of the best films to help you understand the psychology of people. These include films about the psychology of relationships, films about the psychology of men and women, documentaries about human psychology and, of course, films about psychologists and psychology.

Top 15 Psychology Movies

Our top list includes films that cover the whole or almost the whole spectrum of the human psyche. We gave preference to new masterpieces, but we will not forget the good old movies either. So, movies about human psychology: a list of the best films.

Blithe Spirit or “The Ex from Beyond” (2020)

It would seem that the topic of the relationship between a man and a woman in the cinema is so hackneyed that it is no longer possible to bring something new to it. However, the work of director Edward Hall clearly shows that this is not the case. A middle-aged writer, who a few years ago buried his wife, who was also his main muse, decides to use a medium to investigate the causes of his creative crisis.

However, the seance did not go according to plan and the former returned again, but already in the form of a ghost. The situation is complicated by the fact that the writer has to divide his attention between his two wives: the one who has gone to a better world and the other one, who is still quite alive and not quite satisfied with the current circumstances.

In other words, the creative crisis is no longer the main problem in the life of a writer, and even a medium cannot “resolve” a love triangle with the participation of the spirit of his ex. This film about the psychology of the relationship between a man and a woman is a comedy, a melodrama and a fantasy “in one package”. And, perhaps, the most unconventional love triangle in modern cinematic space.

Mr & Mme Adelman or He and She (2017)

Another film about a creative man and his muse, only here the plot is built on retrospectives and memories of the writer’s widow about their long life together, bright moments and difficult times, touching and tragic, good and bad.

Like many other films about the psychology of the relationship between a man and a woman, the film directed by Nicolas Bedos, who incidentally plays a leading role in it, shows that time puts everything in its place. According to the story, the late writer’s wife was a literary critic, and they were brought together at one time by a shared all-consuming love of literature.

It is possible that this shared love and secret (and sometimes overt!) creative competition is exactly what killed the main character. However, it is not the director’s rule to reveal the intrigue completely. In any case, it’s a great chance to enjoy an authentic French comedy and melodrama, because the plot gives a lot of reasons to both laugh and grieve.

Le règne de la beauté or “The Kingdom of Beauty” (2014)

Let’s leave the “realm of the dead” and see that many have skeletons in their closet, and they can be discovered while they are still alive. The beginning of Denis Arcane’s film is hardly overly intriguing. It looks more like a standard story of what, with a dash of irony, is called “success”.

The main character is a young and already recognized architect, who has a young, beautiful and loving wife, who is engaged in sports, watching himself, not deprived of the attention of women and if desired, can freely afford another mistress. The quiet course of the plot is interspersed with hints of intimacy and nice platitudes of men like “women who like dogs, usually do not like men.

However, another business trip turns the hero’s life upside down and further events unfold between the two cities, countries and continents. The plot no longer resembles a banal affair, and the love triangle turns into a polygon, “clinging” to its corners too many people.

Hiding “skeletons in the closet” becomes more and more difficult, and then there is no reason at all. In other words, nothing poisons your personal life as much as your family life. And movies about the psychology of love can help you get out of love’s web, once you’re in it.

Sentimental or The Roommates Upstairs (2020)

However, perhaps it is better for your husband to find love “on the side,” rather than trying to involve your legitimate spouse in the fulfillment of his dubious fantasies. Although, in general, it’s up to someone. Here are the main characters in the film directed by Cecca Gay, to put it mildly, shocked to learn what their upstairs neighbors do at night.

And it’s not just the fact that the newlyweds are passionate about each other. The fact is that group sex and sharing partners is only a small and most harmless part of their rampaging experiments. But the routine of family life, from which the main characters are exhausted, the neighbors from above is certainly not a threat.

Is it so good or is it better to leave as it was? And how, in principle, to return the former passion in the relationship? Perhaps the reasoning of the main characters on these topics will also help many others who are already faced with a mid-life crisis and fatigue from the routine.

Radioactive or The Dangerous Element (2019)

If you’re tired of the permissiveness reigning around you, you’ll probably enjoy director Marjane Satrapi’s film, based on the graphic novel by Lauren Redniss and focusing on the life and love story of a married couple of physics scientists, Marie and Pierre Curie. Their love story is closely intertwined with the history of science in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, because science was the meaning of their lives.

But the story of this relationship has not lost its relevance even after more than 100 years. About this wrote even Forbes, released on the eve of the premiere article “Maria Skłodowska-Curie – superheroine from science: rolling out a movie about the life of a scientist” [Forbes, 2020].

Decades later, the truth of life remains the same: even very talented women are often forced to be in the shadow of men. And even if some critics saw the film as “a neon postcard of the greatness of science at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries,” the film is noteworthy for its sensitivity, sincerity, and very concrete recipes for how an outstanding woman can fight her way to recognition of her own merits.

The Female Brain: Instructions for Use (2017)

The best films about human psychology always unobtrusively lead to one important thought: before you try to build a relationship with anyone, you should sort out yourself, your true desires and aspirations.

Film director Whitney Cummings, who incidentally plays a leading role in her film, has tried to convey this idea through a film adaptation and adaptation of the book by American neuropsychologist Luann Brisendine, who became the prototype of the main character.

The heroine sincerely believes that love and hate, jealousy and passion, other components of relationships have only biological causes. And, having thoroughly studied the human brain and human relationships, it is possible to find these causes and influence them.

However, her scientific optimism about the prospects of finding these causes is sharply reduced when she falls in love herself. Indeed, as the famous song goes, “love is to blame alone, only love is to blame for everything, only love is always to blame…” That’s it!

7 ore per farti innamorare or “7 Hours to Seduce” (2020)

Another one of those “cobbler without boots” is the protagonist of the film directed by Giampaolo Morelli. A successful psychologist-consultant, who has a well-deserved professional reputation, takes it upon herself to help a journalist who is determined to win back his fiancée, in spite of her endless infidelity.

In order not to “light up” his failures, the journalist gets a job at a men’s magazine and resolutely takes up writing a series of articles on the art of seduction. That is under this “cover”, and he goes to the training to eminent psychologist, author of the step by step strategy to seduce any woman for 7 hours.

Journalist proves to be a diligent student, and by and large everything goes according to plan, with no deviations from the timing. The psychologist, on the other hand, begins to feel some affection for his customer. Or even more than just affection… All in all, it looks like love is to blame again!

Of the useful tips from watching this picture, it’s worth highlighting the following: if something takes up all your thoughts and all your time – make it your job and get paid for it. Even if it’s a study of female psychology.

The Accidental Husband (2008)

Films about the psychology of women are almost always solid comedies, even if they were originally intended to be something else. But here Griffin Dunn immediately tuned in to the funny wave and invited a famous actress, a master of the comedy genre, Uma Thurman to play the main role.

The main character, who is the host of a radio show, gives out left and right advice on how to build relationships. As usual, a lot of advice is rarely of equal quality, and unceremoniously interfering in someone else’s life can significantly damage it.

But that doesn’t mean that the offended one will put up with everything. Anyway, when the show host advises a girl to dump her boyfriend, and the girl follows this advice, the guy enlists the services of a hacker and… registers an official marriage with this radio host.

The radio show host discovers this at the most inopportune moment, namely when she applies to marry her lover. See for yourself how that turned out. In short, the radio host has been more balanced in her advice ever since.

Nightlife (2020)

Note that movies about the psychology of men make you “grab your head” even more often than movies about women. Two bartender friends decide to “get wise” and change their merry nightlife for the image of respectable businessmen. And one of them has already looked for a girl who in the future could become his wife and mother of his children.

But here’s the problem: in search of seed money to start their own business, friends get into a criminal story and have to get away from the mafia just before the first date. We all know that no one will have a second chance to make a first impression. So the friends have an almost insurmountable task to accomplish: elude the mafia and turn up at the appointed time for their date.

“II” or “Two” (2019).

The great poet who declared that “all ages are submissive to love” was completely right. First loves aren’t always as dramatic as the story of Romeo and Juliet to end with the lovers’ deaths, otherwise hardly anyone would have had a chance to live to even 19 or 20 years old.

However, the first feelings almost always become all-consuming and overshadow everything in the world. This is exactly what director Vlada Senkova’s work is about. The film’s characters are ordinary high school students with concerns common for their age. But only for the time being.

In addition to the standard feelings of love, children have to overcome condemnation and dissatisfaction of adults against the background of the objective impossibility of starting an independent life and not being dependent on somebody’s opinion. In this respect, films about the psychology of teenagers and teenage love are quite similar. But every new touch to this sensitive topic opens up new facets of understanding and can be useful to both young people and adults.

Interstate 60 or “Route 60” (2001)

Young people really still have a lot to learn about this life. For example, that the obvious things may not be so at all, and that what worked for others will not necessarily bring success to you. Conversely, if no one has decided to take a certain road, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try either.

“Route 60” is absent from all highway maps and exists only for the protagonist of director Bob Gale’s picture. And only if he shows persistence in finding that highway and his way in life.

In principle, he is already destined for a life of prosperity, a career as a lawyer and a chic wedding to a pretty and pretty girl. However, he sets out to find his true love and his true calling of being an artist. And to stop thinking in terms of cliché, life “throws” him a few crucial meetings and a very interesting experiment in terms of psychology, clearly demonstrating that we only see what we want to see.

So, we all know that cards with “spades” and “clubs” are always black, and cards with “diamonds” and “hearts” are always red. And we just “don’t see” the other options, even when we are shown them. For those who doubt that there are black “hearts” and red “spades,” a shot from the movie “Route 60.”

“My Self-Harm” (2018).

To begin, let’s clarify that the term “self-harm” means self-injury or damage that a person inflicts on himself or herself without a suicidal purpose. Usually this kind of thing is done by people suffering from borderline personality disorder and other mental health issues. This is the subject of the documentary film directed by Yakov Raskalov.

Our society still has difficulty understanding people in such mental states, and documentaries about the psychology of people suffering from mental disorders are precisely designed to explain these nuances to society and make us all kinder and more tolerant. The reviews show that this theme is relevant to many, and Russian films about human psychology are in demand among modern audiences.

Derren Brown: The Push or Derren Brown: The Push (2018)

British director, mentalist and psychological illusionist Derren Brown is not modest and marks all of his documentary works in the cinema with his name right in the title of the film. Of all his films, his work on the subject of conformism in society and how low people are willing to stoop in order to please society and especially the authorities, stands out.

We do not know whether this film can make people better. And we hardly have the moral authority to condemn anyone for any action taken when there is a real threat to life and limb. However, The Push will surely help you to recognize people who are cowardly and sneaky in time. At the very least, before they have time to commit meanness to you.

And yes, most situations in which people choose not to stand out not only pose no threat, but are not even worth getting hung up on. As the famous song rightly sings, “It’s not worth bending to the changing world,” especially over little things.

Music or “Music” (2021).

And what film is sure to help us all become kinder is the directorial debut of the famous singer who performs under the pseudonym Sia. In the story, the main character, who leads a riotous lifestyle and sells drugs, after the death of her grandmother is the sole guardian of her half-sister, suffering from autism.

To say that the heroine is not happy about this arrangement is to say nothing. And looking at the heroine, I want to say nothing. However, the help and support of the people around her help the girl to look at life a little differently and gain the spiritual qualities that she was so lacking.

There is predictably a lot of music in the film – Sia composed all ten songs of the movie herself. So even if you are not yet ready to accept complicated social and psychological dilemmas, the music will definitely make you happy!

The Box (2021)

And another film about how music and the support of others can help you overcome even very serious psychological problems. Director Yang Jeong-un’s character, a talented budding musician, suffers from a phobia that could end his career as a musician. He has a phobia of performing in public.

Through no fault of his own, his singing and playing are discovered by a music producer who is having a hard time finding a promising musician to monetize his talent. Of course, the phobia complicates matters, but the producer finds a way out.

He suggested that the musician perform… in a refrigerator box, so he wouldn’t have to see the audience. And you can see how it turned out, and we’d also like to mention that the main star was Park Chanel, a real-life EXO musician.

Of course, this is not the whole list of psychological movies worthy of your and our attention: the list can be complemented and expanded forever. Moreover, any film is always to some extent about psychology of people, because films are made about people and for people. The only difference is that there are “movies made to last a lifetime” and there are one-night flicks you forget about right after you leave the theater.

You can learn to distinguish one from the other in the first frames and watch psychological films with intelligence on our programs “Profiling” and “Cognitive Science”. We wish you an enjoyable viewing experience and ask you to answer a question on the subject of this article:

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