Dramas discussing psychology and mental health


October 10th was World Mental Health day (didn’t know that before).

I’ve always been interested in themes surrounding psychology and mental health. I’ve seen quite a few K-dramas or C-dramas that have themes around psychology (not always really accurate, but it’s a start).

Which dramas fit this theme?

Already selected some (I might not remember all the disorders they went over):

Dissociative Identity disorder

Schizophrenia, OCD, Tourette Syndrome

Social anxiety disorder

While this drama doesn’t deal with a diagnosed illness, you can see signs of stress, anxiety, onset depression and burnout.

Antisocial personality disorder

Antisocial personality disorder


depression, suicide, violence towards wife, sexual harassment, antisocial personality disorder, amnesia

In some parts the drama is quite realiistic but exhausting to watch because of the high amount of tragedy and disorders.


Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder

[possible spoiler]
I must add the brilliant portrayal of actress, Jeon Yeo Bin (Lee Eun Jung, the Documentarian in “Melo is My Nature”) who, after her tragic loss, suffered profoundly from Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder, which is also known as Complicated Grief. This was truly a magnificent work of art for Jeon Yeo Bin, and I hope very much she will be recognized and awarded for her exceptional interpretation of her character and this mental health disorder. Please, if one has not yet viewed “Melo”, accept my highest recommendation, especially pertaining to the heart-wrenching storyline of Lee Eun Jung.


@sonmachinima @sheishun_548 I hadn’t watched those yet. I’ll add them to my list ^.^


It’s a drama about athletes and doctors, you would think it is about physical problems but psychological problems are there as well.

It’s most definite not a drama for everyone. It’s about PTSD. It has some good points and some, well …

It comes across as a lighthearted drama, but in reality it is about overcoming big scares and learn to love (again). It’s not really about a psychological diagnosis, but still about mental health after a life-changing experience. The lost of trust and the struggle of wanting to trust again.


Social phobia not only one but both leads have their mental health issues.

There are other dramas you might no longer find to watch anywhere like Golden Bride, …

There are many more …


Only saw bits and pieces, but this deals with prosopagnosia (is it me, or is this becoming a trend in K-dramas?). Same with the next drama.


Heart to Heart was just beautiful! :heart_eyes:


I just finished watching “Memories of the Alhambra”.

Although no one has a mental illness in this one, the OL is constantly suspected of being delusional, because the things that are happening to him aren’t visible to other people. You can see some of the stigma surrounding mental health in this drama.


I have watched quite a few of these, and learned a lot. there was one more and sorry the name , the little girl slowly dying. heart breaking too. this was just a rare disease .
I know & realize the psychological &mental is world wide. but theres also the physical too. another one was the g its called (Thank You" )the girl contracted hiv due to a blood transplant,
but these mentioned, wish there were more! and the list was tops. thanks for this too. how about protect the boss? a phobia of crowds, neatness, and so on. now I have more to watch.


the guy that owns cleaning service, OCD, clean freak…


You mean this one, right?

With dramas like these… I understand that Korea has a mental health stigma that they are trying to bring awareness to, but they do this by re-enforcing a lot of the stereotypes that aren’t always true.

For example, being a “clean freak”, doesn’t automatically mean that you have OCD and some people have a legitimate reason for having to be so clean (f.e. allergies). Not all people who have OCD, in this specific incidence with a phobia of germs and uncleanliness, react the same.

I wish they would add that in this specific case the disease manifested that way, versus this is what X illness looks like. you can say that about a lot more of the disorders that have many different symptoms.

I’m happy when I see that some people research the illness after they watched certain shows to get to know more about it and what it really is.


your last sentence, yes I learned a lot about autism,snd with the doctor was really amazing to find out more on that one and did and the rest, some was really good . turrets syndrome, go figure. And I know Ocd isn’t clean freak type thing, I know. things in their right place. I have a sister almost like that . anyway good thing we can learn nd understand.


The description made by VIKI of Good Doctor appears quite imprecise towards autism and savants (savants are not per se autists and not every autist is a savant, being a savant is not even officially a sub-part of ASS - there are examples of humans who became savants after accidents with brain injuries but ASS is something people are born with, no one will “suddenly” be an autist through an accident or so…). There are so many wrong presentations about autism in the media that it rarely helps those who do have it plus in most cases it’s a stereotypical male genius, almost never about females who are within the ASS.


If you recall in the drama, the mine and lack of oxygen,
possible for savant, there
.yes really interesting , they dont show women/girls with this. maybe a learning disability but not autism


Now I wonder if dramas like these exist in K-drama land. Dealing with a chronic illness or being differently-able is also a very interesting topic in the mental health space.


Hello! I agree with you about how the (world) media presents autism, vague and stereotypical, rarely clarifying the neurological aspects, etc. Likely one of the reasons that fictional characters with autism are more often presented (in film/tv) through males rather than females, stems from actual statistics. In the United States recent estimates show 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Broken down it’s 1 out of 42 boys compared to 1 in 189 girls — thus boys are 4.5 times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ASD.

I couldn’t find solid South Korean ASD statistics, but I imagine a similar outcome. I have noticed a number of characters in K-dramas and J-dramas over the years who clearly present as being on the autism spectrum, yet it’s rarely clarified as such.


Do you have examples? I’m curious.


Hello! Yes, I can share a few examples off the top of my memory, mostly from J-drama: The best being “Ataru” from 2012, centered around an autistic man perfectly relayed by Masahiro Nakai, who helps police officers (played by goddess Chiaki Kuriyama and Kazuki Kitamura) solve cases by utilizing his talent for remembering minute details, keen problem-solving, among other ASD traits.

Another, from 2008, “Edison no Haha”. Ito Misaki plays a first-grade teacher who receives a new student that is referred to as “difficult” and later as a “prodigy”, but actually, to me, he presents very classically with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This dorama was a difficult watch, heartbreaking misunderstandings.

As a side note, by chance are you familiar with the manga “With the Light” by Keiko Tobe? There are 8 volumes, sadly cut short by the author’s passing, beautifully telling the story of raising her autistic son. This series was written in the early 00s (English translation 2011), so it relays many of the misunderstandings of autism from that time. I first read when the translation came out, although now it’s rather dated, but I still find it quite good and definitely recommend to the interested.

Back to the J-drama, from 2002, “Satorare” is about a doctor who has an unnamed malady wherein he cannot hide his feelings. While this is a fictional disorder, many of the character’s traits and behaviors are reminiscent of ASD.

This next one is perhaps debatable, Erika Toda’s character in SPEC-Birth, especially when she goes into one of her frenzied revelations, perseverating on particulars, her difficulties with social graces, among other behaviors, seems brilliantly inspired by ASD.

Oh, and the simply wonderful film from 2002, “Laundry” with Kubozuka Yosuke playing a man with a “mental disability” who presents very classic ASD.

As for K-drama, along with “Good Doctor”, the only others I can recall at the moment are the younger brother in “Shining Inheritance”, and presently in “Melting Me Softly”, Ko Mi-Ran’s little brother presents with ASD classic hand gestures (stimming), speech and motor issues, and possible fixation on FIN.K.L.:heart_eyes_cat: There are other K-dramas, with side or bit-part characters that aren’t revealed as autistic, but are possibly. I know I’ve thought to myself, watching K-drama these past years, “that character is likely autistic” numerous times, I just can’t remember all the wheres. And, now I feel inspired to start an ongoing list to keep track. :smiley_cat:


Thanks for the list :smile:


I saw the movie “Along with the Gods”, and the character played by Do Kyung-Soo, the soldier, seems to be on the spectrum as well. He also isn’t revealed as autistic, but he behaves similar to one of my friend’s sibling, who has been diagnosed.