Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson)
The Film: The Shining (1980)
Tortured How? Struggling with writers' block, Torrance decides that what he and his family (wife Wendy and son Danny) really need is a break away from it all. So they become winter caretakers of an isolated, spooky old hotel. Brilliant.
Soon, Danny is seeing visions and Jack is being driven mad thanks to a combination of the building's strange psychic essence, the ghosts of former guests and a nasty case of cabin fever. Cue manic dashes around the hotel trying to "fix" his family.
He does do a fair amount of writing, but it gets awfully repetitive.
Sample Dialogue: "Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in."
How We'd Help: A couple of weeks in the Caribbean and a serious dose of chill pills ought to help Jackie calm himself down. Just don't let him see anyone chopping wood.
Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep)
The Film: Adaptation. (2002)
Tortured How? Desperately unhappy in her marriage, Susan Orlean sets out to track down the story of Orchid farmer John Laroche (Chris Cooper), a man who has suffered plenty himself (family largely dead, wife divorcing him, on trial for selling flower extracts to drug gangs).
The pair end up in a wacky situation that involves drug trips, alligator encounters and car chases.
But if Orlean thinks she's got problems, she's a veritable example of sanity compared to the nervy, self-loathing bundle of over-psychoanalyzed tics that is Charlie Kaufman (Nic Cage), charged with adapting her book into a screenplay.
Sample Dialogue: "I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. I want to know what it feels like to care about something passionately."
How We'd Help: We'd suggest she ditches the dull hubby (Curtis Hanson) and pursues her passion, maybe starting her own greenhouse, since she's so obsessed with growing things.
As for Kaufman… We got nothing. Some people just need to work through their own issues.
Thad Beaumont (Timothy Hutton)
The Film: The Dark Half (1993)
Tortured How? Try getting stalked by your own alter ego. Thad has some serious issues - not only has his old writing pseudonym "George Stark" apparently taken on a life of its own, but it's framing him for various murders.
Turns out he also had a brain tumor removed as a child that was actually an undeveloped twin brother. We hate it when that happens.
Sample Dialogue: "They've come to take one of us away, haven't they? Which one?"
How We'd Help: Another operation is clearly called for - this time, a lobotomy, to make sure old Thad isn't a danger to himself or anyone else.
Morvern Callar (Samantha Morton)
The Film: Morvern Callar (2002)
Tortured How? For a start, she isn't a writer at all - supermarket checkout girl Callar awakens one Christmas morning to discover her writer boyfriend has committed suicide.
So she, er, publishes his novel under her own name, uses the proceeds to take her best mate Lanna to Ibiza and enjoys the drugs 'n' sex life of a raver. Because that's how we all deal with grief, right? Right?
Sample Dialogue: "F**k work Lana, we can go anywhere you like."
How We'd Help: Frankly, it sounds like she's got life pretty much sorted. Though her odyssey of self-discovery doesn't come without an emotional cost. And we'd probably send her to an STD clinic just in case.
Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas)
The Film: Wonder Boys (2000)
Tortured How? College professor Grady's been caught in the sweaty, unwavering clamp of second-novel syndrome for going on seven years now. His latest novel is long overdue.
But instead of tackling his issues head on, he strikes up a friendship with student James Leer and worries about the fact that his mistress is pregnant, all while in a pot-induced haze.
Sample Dialogue: "Well… thank you for the thought, but shocking as it may sound, I am not the first writer to sip a little weed. Furthermore, it might surprise you to know that one book I wrote, as you say, 'under the influence,' just happened to win a little something called the Pen Award. Which, by the way, I accepted under the influence."
How We'd Help: More weed. He thinks better when he's not having to think too much. If that makes any sense at all.
Paul Sheldon (James Caan)
The Film: Misery (1990)
Tortured How? Literally. Sheldon has the bad luck to crash his car on a wintry Colorado night after a freak blizzard.
He's rescued by ex-nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) who, it turns out, is his biggest fan. As in, fanatic. When she learns he's killed off her favourite character, Misery Chastaine, Annie goes to terrible lengths to have Paul re-write literary history.
Hope he didn't have any plans to run a marathon soon…
Sample Dialogue: "Eat it till ya choke, you sick, twisted fuck!"
How We'd Help: Some serious counseling once he's free of the crazy bitch. That, and ice packs for sore ankles.
Dan Dark (Robert Downey Jr)
The Film: The Singing Detective (2003)
Tortured How? Stuck in a hospital bed thanks to a maddening case of psoriasis (or terminally itchy, flaky skin), Dan slowly goes nuts, entering a bizarre fantasy world of noir and music and he begins to confuse himself with the detective protagonist of his latest book.
Even Dr Gibbon (Mel Gibson), trying to treat him, can't break him out of the his crazed state.
Sample Dialogue: "Are you pretending to be an oddball or are you actually nuts?"
How We'd Help: Cream for the itch and a visit to the library to expand the scope of his fantasy life. Singing Stormtrooper, anyone?
Iris Murdoch (Kate Winslet/Judi Dench)
The Film: Iris (2001)
Tortured How? Easily one of the most famously haunted writers in the world, Iris struggled with depression despite a vibrant life and a sharp mind.
Things got worse as she aged, and battled Alzheimer's for control of her mental faculties, lashing out at everyone and anyone.
Sample Dialogue: "There is only one freedom of any importance, freedom of the mind."
How We'd Help: In her earlier life, we'd tell her to cheer up a bit. Later on? The best memory treatment money can buy added to the faithful support from hubby John Bayley (Jim Broadbent).
Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes)
The Film: The End Of The Affair (1999)
Tortured How? Even regular rumpy pumpy with Julianne Moore's sexy, cheating wife Sarah Miles can't seem to stop Maurice from seeing the world through tainted, unhappy eyes.
But it's not all his fault - Sarah's a flighty one, and seems happy to skip between blokes. And they conduct the majority of their affair during World War Two, where the threat of bombs from above didn't help the peaceful mind or romantic mood.
Sample Dialogue: "I hate you, God. I hate you as though you existed."
How We'd Help: A ticket to Switzerland for two, so that the pair can continue their passionate love thang without worrying that the ceiling's going to cave in thanks to a German bomb.
That, and a slap for Maurice, who really needs to cheer the f**k up.
Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp)
The Film: Secret Window (2004)
Tortured How? Mort's a successful scribe brought low only recently by crippling performance anxiety in the writing department (it's a common thread here).
He's confronted by the mysterious John Shooter (John Turturro), who contends that one of Mort's stories was ripped off from him. Mort slowly grows loopier as the pressure starts to take its toll and he soon makes a dark discovery about Shooter…
Sample Dialogue: "I have the magazine, you lunatic. I have the MAGAZINE. I HAVE THE GODDAMN MAGAZINE!"
How We'd Help: Mort needs a spell in a hospital to help his mental issues. And we'd make him live somewhere other than the scary, isolated cabin he spends most of the film in.
Oh, and we'd tell Stephen King (on whose story this one is also based) that not every bleedin' plot needs to be about a tortured novelist. Write more about deadly cars or killer dogs, chief.