Disabilities are not glamorous: Unless super-star movie actors like Denzel Washington using OCD as a  character quirk them in movies. There is a long history in the 20th century of over-simplifying or patronizing in portrayals of those with psychological disorders.

There are, however, plenty of movies that were big hits and increased awareness of disabilities most people had no experience with: think Dustin Hoffman in Rainmaker.  It’s hard to see the portrayal of autism or Asperger’s syndrome as over-simplistic in the movie.

Other movies that are not one-dimensional in showing disabilities include:

  • A Beautiful Mind: The lead has paranoid schizophrenia, but is also a genius mathematician.
  • Good Will Hunting: Matt Damon battles depression and proves like, Like Crowe’s character in Beautiful Mind, to be a math genius.
  • The Aviator. is a psychological drama has a fantastic portrayal of OCD
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012) – Bradley Cooper is Pat Solatano. He suffers from panic attacks and OCD.

Perhaps the only down-side of movies these accurate portrayals is they balance out the “sad” of living with mental illness by having very happy courter-balances (genius, great wealth, and an amazing, beautiful girlfriend as a consolation for Solonto in Silver Livings). Life with serious disabilities is tough. It doesn’t always have happy endings.