Psychopathology in the Movies: As Good As It Gets
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, DSM code 300.3, is a mental disorder that impairs an individual because they are “so preoccupied with order, perfection, and control that they lose all flexibility, openness, and efficiency” according to the book Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology Sixth Edition by Ronald J. Comer. The patient’s obsessions can render them completely irrational in their thought process and this irrationality effects the person’s subsequent actions. A compulsion is the actions that the patient takes to bring peace of mind and escape the turmoil the obsession has caused; this action is usually repetitive in nature. “Common compulsions include washing, counting, checking, requesting assurance, or repeating actions” (Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Rehabilitation by Patrick W. Corrigan). The movie “As Good As It Gets” features a character named Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) who plays a wealthy book writer who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which I will simply call O.C.D. for the duration of this paper. Melvin is shown having a really difficult time with day to day life due to his condition and lack of self control. Melvin was experiencing a variety of symptoms due to his O.C.D. diagnosis. For instance; Mr. Udall had an obvious issue with germs which, as previously mentioned, is a common symptom for this illness. He was constantly on the lookout for possible contamination. When he would dine out, he would take his own plastic eating utensils so he didn’t have to use the ones provided at the dinner. He also used the sleeves of his shirts to open and close doors in order to avoid touching the door handle. Melvin also went out of his way to avoid physical contact with other people due to his obsession of picking up germs. In the movie, while at his favorite dinner, his preferred waitress Carol (Helen Hunt) was trying to get by him and she touched his jacket. Melvin was...
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