Schizophrenia is a commonly misunderstood condition, especially in the movies. What people often mean when they use the term "schizophrenia" is dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personality disorder. But let's not turn this into a Psychology 101 term paper. Here are 6 schizophrenic characters that are closer to the real schizophrenia.


Carol, "Repulsion"

Often times, the best and most accurate movies about schizophrenia are horror movies, as schizophrenia has a way of turning life for its victims into a real-life horror movie in which he or she is never able to tell what is real and what isn't. This applies to Catherine Deneuve's character in Roman Polanski's "Repulsion," who, despite her nearly-catatonic state, is constantly hounded by both slobbery men and imagined monsters.


Peter Loew, "Vampire's Kiss"

Although Nicolas Cage has made a name for himself playing crazy characters, one of his very craziest came relatively early in his career. Peter Loew is a hot-shot publishing executive who comes to mistakenly (or not?) believe that he is a vampire who must feed on the blood of the living to survive. Real-life schizophrenics often have elaborate hallucinatory narratives that seem completely real, but few, if any of them, are as entertaining to watch as Nicolas Cage.


Peter Winter, "Clean, Shaven"

Generally considered to be one of the most, if not the most, accurate depictions of schizophrenia on film, "Clean, Shaven" is an incredibly unsettling experience for the viewer. The entire film is constructed almost completely as if from inside the mind of the schizophrenic Peter. What this means is there are all kinds of bizarre auditory and visual hallucinations that strike disorientingly and at random, just like most sufferers of schizophrenia are forced to deal with. There's no better movie for getting inside the head of a schizophrenic person.


Dennis Cleg, "Spider"

Many of David Cronenberg's films deal directly and indirectly with mental illness and schizophrenia, but few as directly as "Spider." Dennis, as played by Ralph Fiennes, is a highly disturbed man who ends up committing murder due to the illusions and hallucinations created by his illness. But who exactly did he kill?


Peter Evans and Agnes White, "Bug"

It's bad enough when just one person suffers from schizophrenia–-but in some circumstances, if conditions are right, madness can be shared between two people. William Friedkin's "Bug" is one of the greatest of all fictional depictions of this phenomenon, and Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd are more than up to the task of inhabiting characters who are cursed to see the world much differently than most.


Curtis, "Take Shelter"

Michael Shannon again tackles the subject of severe mental illness in "Take Shelter," a chilling look at how schizophrenia can creep up slowly on a person and create a stranglehold over their whole life. Curtis is a father and husband who begins to believe that his family (and everyone else in their town) is going to be threatened by a massive storm of apocalyptic proportions. But the real danger appears to come from Curtis himself.