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Hollywood movie producers and authors of fictional novels destined for the cinema have typically offered their characters mental conditions. Producers and authors look for ways to add depth to their characters’ characters and provide something to resist during the course of the story. The average movie-goer does not necessarily have the understanding to figure out if the condition displayed on the cinema is accurate. To comprehend the dilemma of the typical movie watcher, this paper examines As Good As It Gets (Mark, Sakai, Ziskin, Producers, 1997) in the context of Melvin Udall, the protagonist, who experiences a minimum of 2 psychological conditions.
The film followed Melvin Udall, a love unique author, who shows a score of odd habits. Throughout one scene Melvin visits his psychologist who states the author’s diagnoses as obsessive-compulsive condition (OCD). However, Melvin also seems to struggle with the more uncomfortable antisocial personality condition, formerly called egotistical personality condition.
David Myers (2014) specified obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as “an anxiety condition identified by undesirable repeated thoughts (obsessions) and actions (compulsions), or both.
” The character, Melvin Udall, certainly displays OCD traits. His habits are compulsive and are typically set off by stress and anxiety. For instance, he compulsively locks his door and flips the light switch in groups of 5. He washes utilizing very warm water and numerous bars of soap per cleaning. These are common compulsions for those with OCD and are significant as those attributed to advancement and natural selection. Other habits Melvin Udall displayed include his preference for a specific table at a dining establishment, his organizing of products by color and hyper-organized packaging, and his rejection to step on the cracks of New york city walkways.
While Melvin’s habits appeared connected to stress and anxiety, his OCD just manifested as compulsive habits. No proof of compulsive thoughts was dramatized.
Melvin struggled against an undiagnosed antisocial personality disorder throughout the movie as well. Melvin’s narcissistic tendencies manifested in his egotistical actions and his inability to show interest in another’s point of view. This often led to verbally abusive behavior. “Where do they teach you to talk like this? In some Panama City “Sailor wanna hump-hump” bar, or is it getaway day and your last shot at his whiskey? Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.” – Melvin Udall, As Good As It Gets Myers (2014) described a person suffering from antisocial personality disorder as generally a man who exhibits a lack of conscience for wrongdoing, even toward friends and family members.
Melvin greets each person he interacts with his own sterotyped beliefs regarding their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference and so forth. Nothing he says is considered culturally acceptable. He often hurts the feelings of those he interacts with and is not the least bit affected by the knowledge. At times he seems to know hurting someone’s feelings by his words and actions is wrong, but does not understand why what he said was improper. He has trouble understanding, for example, why his love interest Carol Connelly is offended when he refers to her carefully selected dress as a “house dress”. At other times, he only seeks others out for what they can do for him, but are unwilling to reciprocate any sort of friendship. This is the case when he asks his publicist for a personal favor from her husband to treat Carol’s sick child, but this is unwilling to listen or even pretend to be interested in a story about her own son.
The movie, albeit entertaining, is a poor substitute for education on psychological disorders. Because the only disorder mentioned is OCD, the viewer may be left with the impression that the antisocial behaviors, symptoms of a personality disorder, are a product of the obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder. Melvin’s behaviors begin to normalize toward the end of the movie as he makes closer attachments with several other characters. This may falsely imply to the movie-goer that his psychological disorders are easily treatable or curable. People with mental illnesses suffer from a stigma from the greater community. Unfortunately, this movie perpetuates the dangerous notion that mental illness is something one can take a stance against and overcome through will and action. Mental illness, just like an illness of the body, requires medical intervention.
Mark, L., Sakai, R., Ziskin, L. (Producers), & Brooks, J. L. (Director). (1997) As Good As It Gets
[Motion Picture]. United States: Tristar Pictures.
Myers, D. G. (2014). Exploring Psychology. New York, NY: Worth Publishers
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