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Trauma in film

Trauma in film and other visual media represents an increasing concern for survivors of trauma. While witnessing traumatic events in film can help sensitize people to the importance of trauma,1 these same scenes of graphically portrayed traumatic events can not only trigger traumatic memories and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in trauma survivors,2,3 but can also be traumatic for non-survivors to witness.4,5,6 Some in the mental health community have expressed concern about the impact of graphic violence on trauma survivors, and the responsibility of the media regarding the effects of watching trauma in film.7 The significance of trauma triggers in film is becoming more recognized as issues of trauma, PTSD, and trauma recovery become better understood.

Additional recommended knowledge



Films with traumatic or potentially traumatic scenes are alphabetically listed below by trauma category. Some films may appear in more than one category. Listing below is based on whether the content is perceived to be traumatic or a trauma trigger for a trauma survivor; thus, a movie may be listed based on whether the person watching the movie perceives there to be a traumatic occurrence, not on whether the occurrence actually takes place. (Example: there is a miscarriage perceived in Kill Bill that the movie watcher later learns did not take place.) If you add films to a category, please be sure to add them alphabetically. To view and add your movie to an alphabetical list of all movies with identified trauma scenes, and to describe or discuss these scenes briefly, go to Talk: Trauma in film.

Violent Trauma

  • Domestic abuse
    • Boys on the Side
    • Dolores Claiborne
    • Fried Green Tomatoes
    • Sleeping with the Enemy
    • Titanic
  • Mugging
  • Hostage taking
  • Murder
    • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Suicide
    • Dead Poets Society
    • Monster's Ball
  • Abortion
    • The Cider House Rules
    • Dirty Dancing
  • Slave trafficking
  • Cannibalism
    • Fried Green Tomatoes
    • Titus
  • Gun violence
    • Regarding Henry
  • Knife violence
    • Crocodile Dundee
  • Hate crime-specific violence
    • Boys Don't Cry

Accident/Accidental Death

  • Car accident
    • Audrey Rose
    • Fly Away Home
  • Fire
    • Audrey Rose
    • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  • Train accident
  • Airplane crash
  • Death by exposure to elements
  • Starvation
  • Accidental gunshot death
    • Pulp Fiction

Childhood Trauma

  • Kidnapping
  • Child molestation
    • Dolores Claiborne
  • Child rape
    • The Prince of Tides
  • Incestuous child rape
    • Priest
  • Domestic child abuse
  • Child slavery

Military/Combat Trauma

  • Battlefield/land combat
  • Military torture
    • Three Kings
  • Terrorist attacks
    • Die Hard
  • Land mines
    • Die Another Day
  • Navy/water combat
    • Hunt for Red October
  • Air combat
    • Top Gun
  • Guerrilla warfare
    • Apocalypse Now
    • Forrest Gump
  • Gang/Gangster warfare
  • Genocide
  • Child soldier trafficking
    • Blood Diamond
  • Execution
    • Braveheart
    • Gladiator
    • Jesus Christ Superstar
    • The Passion of the Christ

Sexual Trauma

  • Rape
    • Clan of the Cave Bear
    • La Bamba
    • Sleeping with the Enemy
    • The Accused
  • Attempted rape
    • Pretty Woman
    • The Pianist
    • Thelma and Louise
    • V for Vendetta
  • Gang/group rape
    • The General's Daughter
    • Leaving Las Vegas
    • The Accused
  • Homogenital rape
    • Pulp Fiction
    • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Military rape
    • The General's Daughter
  • Sexual trafficking
  • Prostitution
  • Exotic dancing

Natural Disaster

  • Flood
    • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Earthquake
  • Volcano
  • Tsunami
  • Storm
    • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Tornado


  • Gambling
    • Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Psychological Trauma

  • Cult

See also

  • Trauma
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Survivor syndrome
  • Glossary of trauma terms
  • Acute stress reaction
  • Post-abduction syndrome
  • Post-abortion syndrome


  1. Rasmussen.
  2. Ephron.
  3. Whitaker. Whitaker notes that television viewing can trigger traumatic memory.
  4. Bower. Bower notes that witnessing a trauma can result in some PTSD symptoms.
  5. Maloney. Maloney notes PTSD in children having witnessed Hurricane Katrina-related deaths.
  6. Pizzato, p. 373. Pizzato notes that a woman died of a heart attack while watching the violence in Mel Gibson's, The Passion of the Christ; however, whether this woman was suffering from a traumatic trigger has not been determined.
  7. Allen.


  • Allen, Chris, M.D.. "Letter: Pte Ryan's trauma", The Independent (London), 1998-09-15. Retrieved on 2007-12-20. 
  • Bower, Bruce. "More stress disorder for wounded Viet vets". Science News (1988-01-02). Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  • Ephron, Dan. "Battlefield flashbacks", Newsweek, 2006-10-01. Retrieved on 2007-12-20. 
  • Fagan, Nancy; Kathleen Freme. "Confronting posttraumatic stress disorder". Nursing (Feb 2004). Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  • Gordon, Sabine. "Living in the shadow: in the aftermath of abortion, some women find themselves living with regret as a constant companion" (July-August 1989). Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  • Herman, Judith Lewis, M.D. (1992). Trauma and Recovery. BasicBooks, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-465-0876-5. 
  • Maloney, Stephen. "N.O. student stress crisis intensifies", New Orleans CityBusiness, 2007-02-19. Retrieved on 2007-12-20. 
  • Matheson, Whitney. "Have you ever walked out of a movie?", USA Today, 2002-06-07. Retrieved on 2007-12-20. 
  • Phillips, Michael. "If a film made you flee, here's your ticket to deride", Chicago Tribune, 2007-07-05. Retrieved on 2007-12-20. 
  • Pizzato, Mark (2005-03-01). "A Post-9/11 Passion: Review of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ". Pastoral Psychology 53 (4).
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorders in Rape Survivors. Retrieved on 2007-12-13.
  • Rasmussen, Randy L.. "Arriving at judgments in selecting photos: At the Oregonian, key questions help to frame decisions about images of Mideast violence". Nieman Reports (Fall 2002): 67-70. The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
  • Schneider, Stephen (2002). "Slasher Movies". St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Gale Group. Retrieved on 2007-12-20.
  • Whitaker, Brian. "Kuwait invasion scars remain", Chicago Sun-Times, 2000-08-02. Retrieved on 2007-12-20. 
  • Yehuda, Rachel (2002-01-10). "Post-traumatic stress disorder". N Engl J Med 346 (2).
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Trauma_in_film". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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