Schizophrenia is one of the hardest mental illnesses to deal with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t connect with the people who have it.

Although the break with reality seems somewhat difficult to explain, the language of film has many ways of expressing the way these people see things .

Films about schizophrenia to understand the disease

This selection of films about schizophrenia is one more way to understand what this condition is and the social and emotional implications it often entails.

1. Take Shelter (2011)

A psychological drama in which one can observe how the rupture between a man and the reality in which he lives evolves. Little by little, the protagonist of the film gives in to the impulses to believe in a series of apocalyptic hallucinations that lead him to build a refuge underground.

2. Donnie Darko (2001)

Indie movie starring actor Jake Gyllenhaal. In it, a young man named Donnie has visions in which he sees a person disguised as a giant rabbit looking sinister. This entity tells him that the world is going to end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. The premiere of this play went almost unnoticed, but with the arrival of its DVD version it became a cult film.

3. Lilith (1964)

A psychiatrist who works in a health centre reserved for the upper classes meets Lilith, a young woman with schizophrenia , and falls in love with her. Through this relationship and his desire to weave a romantic relationship with the patient, the doctor gradually renounces living in the world of what he understood to be “the sane ones”. This film is based on a novel by J.R. Salamanca.

4. A Wonderful Mind (2001)

A film about schizophrenia based on a real case . It talks about the life of John Forbes Nash, a mathematician with paranoid schizophrenia who went on to win a Nobel Prize in 1994. Throughout its 131 minutes of duration, A Beautiful Mind shows the evolution of Nash’s disease and also the way in which he makes it compatible with his passions.

5. Spider (2002)

Directed by David Cronenberg, this film talks about a man who, after spending a period of time in a psychiatric hospital, stops taking his medication and relives experiences related to a traumatic childhood marked by the death of his mother and his relationship with his father.

6. Canvas (2006)

A story that puts a South Florida family and the way they live with their mother’s disease at the centre of the spotlight. One of the most moving films about schizophrenia .

7. Angel Baby (1995)

Relatively little-known Australian film about two people with schizophrenia who meet in group therapy . After falling in love and moving in together, they deal with a series of difficulties related to their mental health and the entry into the scene of a pregnancy.

8. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977)

This film about schizophrenia takes place in a psychiatric hospital where a woman is confined by repeatedly confusing reality and fiction. In this scenario the protagonist comes into contact with a psychiatrist who offers her the possibility of maintaining a connection with the real world.

9. The Fisher King (1991)

Directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges, this play tells the story of a radio commentator who comes into contact with a beggar with signs of schizophrenic spectrum disorders. Together they set out in search of the Holy Grail.

10. Black Swan (2010)

One of the most famous films by director Darren Aronofsky, talks about the case of a dancer (played by Natalie Portman) who undertakes the search for artistic perfection , although along the way signs are revealed that she is increasingly breaking with the perception of reality.

11. The Soloist (2009)

Along the lines of other films about schizophrenia based on real cases , The Soloist tells the story of Nathaniel Ayers, a talented cellist who during his training at the conservatory developed mental illness and ended up living in begging. However, the situation changes when a journalist meets him and is impressed by his skills.

12. Benny & Joon, the Love of the Innocents (1993)

Joon is a young woman who, after the death of her parents, begins to experience hallucinations and delusions , a typical set of symptoms of schizophrenia. Her brother devotes all his efforts to take care of her, although the arrival of Sam, a young man played by Johnny Depp, will make the problems intensify, on the one hand, and the emergence of a love affair, on the other.

13. Angels without Heaven (1993)

This play shows the friendship between a young man with schizophrenia and a Vietnam War veteran who meet at a homeless shelter. The friendship that is born between them reveals the way in which they can connect that, in spite of having different pasts, they can come to see themselves reflected in each other.

14. Some Voices (2000)

This romantic drama talks about Ray, a young man who, after having been in a psychiatric center, goes to live with his brother Pete . They both help each other but when Ray falls in love with a woman the relationship starts to falter

15. K-Pax (2001)

One of the best known films about schizophrenia , K-Pax talks about the life of a man who calls himself Prot and of whom practically nothing is known beyond the fact that he says he comes from a distant planet and that he plans to go back sometime in the future. Prot is admitted to a psychiatric facility because of his delusional beliefs, and there he revolutionizes the lives of other patients.

16. I am a cyborg (2006)

One of the best known South Korean films in the West . It is about the life of two young people locked up in a psychiatric center who establish a curious connection. Young-goon believes that she is a cyborg and can only be fed by batteries, so she refuses to eat. Il-soon, a young man who always hides behind a mask, will have to understand the logic behind the young woman’s thinking in order to help her.

17. Veronika decides to die (2009)

This fiction tells the life of a young woman who, after deciding that she wants to die and attempt suicide , is informed that she has little time left to live because of the overdose of drugs she used. While in hospital, she meets a patient with schizophrenia who makes her see things differently.

18. Death of an Angel (2001)

Samuel L. Jackson plays a man with schizophrenia who tries to find the killer of a young man by deciphering all the clues he can find. This work leaves aside the more intimate side that characterizes other films about schizophrenia to emphasize the importance of the mystery plot.

19. Nise (2015)

A Brazilian film about the most recent paradigms of psychiatry, based on a humane treatment of patients with the most serious mental disorders . Dr. Nise da Silveira tries to make the inmates with schizophrenia in her medical center be seen as people, something that serves her to earn the enmity of her colleagues.

20. Adèle’s intimate diary (1975)

This film is about the life of Adèle Hugo, Victor Hugo’s daughter, and her physical and mental problems related to her obsessive way of experiencing unrequited love.

21. Woh Lamhe (2006)

A romantic drama in which schizophrenia plays an important role. This Hindu film released in 2006 presents a different way of looking at mental illness .