Abnormal psychology is a study that focuses on abnormal behaviors. Barlow and Durand (2012) note that abnormal behaviors are behavioral patterns that are not expected and accepted within a certain cultural group. Various approaches have been used to address people’s abnormal behaviors. Cognitive and behavioral frameworks have been used for decades, but humanism is becoming a preferable approach among practitioners and scholars (Moss, 2014). The supporters of humanism stress that cognitive and behavioral patterns confine human behavior and emotions to a set of stimuli and responses. Nevertheless, humans have complex emotions, needs, conditions, characteristic features, and so on. Therefore, it is critical to treat people’s psychological issues using comprehensive strategies. This paper includes an analysis of a portrayal of an abnormal behavior and its treatment in the film What About Bob? (1991).
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The protagonist, Bob, displays several abnormal behaviors and suffers from a number of specific phobias (Oz, 1991). One of the phobias revealed in the films is a fear of bacilli. At the beginning of the film, Bob goes out of his house trying not to touch anything, and when he has to touch some objects, he puts his handkerchief on these objects. Clearly, such behavior has an adverse effect on his life. For instance, his wife left him, and his best and only friend seems to be the fish living in his bowl. Bob addresses a psychiatrist who tends to use a combination of the cognitive and behavioral approaches. However, he fails to apply the humanistic approach. Irrespective of this quite formal approach, the protagonist feels certain reliefs after the first session and wants to continue this practitioner’s therapy.
The use of the humanistic approach is revealed in the episode in the asylum. The facility’s staff use humanism as they manage to see Bob’s strengths and his personality behind the symptoms (Oz, 1991). The psychiatrist’s family members also see Bob as a personality rather than a mentally ill person. Such humanistic paradigm is regarded as an important element of any therapy (Moss, 2014). Individuals’ cognitive features, their behaviors in different situations, as well as cultural beliefs and spirituality, should be taken into account during the development and implementation of treatment.
Therefore, a treatment plan may include the prevention of avoidance, the alteration of antecedent cognitive reappraisals, as well as a comprehensive emotional support (Barlow, Allen, & Choate, 2016). It is necessary to make such patients’ exposure to their fears routine, which will help them overcome their fears. Patients should also get the information concerning the risks and hazards associated with bacilli as well as proper ways of remaining healthy. Finally, it is essential to understand actual needs of the patient, reasons for such behaviors, and so on. It is also possible to involve patients’ family members and the community.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that Bob’s phobia of bacilli in the film What About Bob? (1991) should be treated with the use of a combination of humanistic, cognitive and behavioral approach. Practitioners should not confine their therapies to changing their patients’ behaviors or analyzing cognitive peculiarities. The film in question reveals the patient who benefits from the application of humanism rather than more traditional frameworks. In real-life settings, humanism, as an element of therapy, can also be beneficial for many patients. People tend to need their family’s support and understanding.
Barlow, D., Allen, L., & Choate, M. (2016). Toward a unified treatment for emotional disorders – republished article. Behavior Therapy, 47(6), 838-853.
Barlow, D. H., & Durand, V. M. (2012). Abnormal psychology: An integrative approach. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Moss, D. (2014). The roots and genealogy of humanistic psychology. In K. J. Schneider, J. Fraser Pierson, & J. F. T. Bugental (Eds.), The handbook of humanistic psychology: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 3-18). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Oz, F. (Director). (1991). What About Bob? [Motion picture]. United States: Touchstone Pictures.