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Howard Hughes’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Essay

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2021

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a psychological condition that is characterized by compulsions to reputedly perform certain routines, ritualistic behaviors, and obsessive thoughts and impulses that the person cannot control. Many famous historical figures exhibited symptoms of that mental disorder, and American aviation enthusiast, entrepreneur, and film director Howard Hughes is a well-known example of such a person. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the obsessive-compulsive disorder in the case of Howard Hughes, with the help of the Big Five personality model.

The Big Five personality model suggests using five main dimensions to assess the personality of an individual. These five dimensions are conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, extraversion, and openness. The model is useful for the case in question because it helps understand how the patient interacts with the world. It also shows what traits contributed to the development of the disorder (Miller, Few, Lynam, & MacKillop, 2015). The main symptoms of the obsessive-compulsive disorder that were present in the example of Howard Hughes were obsessiveness with hygiene, the prevalence of following the same routines, and fixation on seemingly irrelevant details.

To outline the potential causes of the disorder, it is justified to look at the childhood of Howard Hughes. As a boy, Howard had health problems and once was paralyzed due to an unknown illness. The mother was concerned with his health and tried to protect her child from any danger by teaching him to avoid any contact with potentially contagious things. Assessing the personality of Howard Hughes with the help of the Big Five model, it is justified to suggest that he was high in conscientiousness, which is the inclination to orderliness and discipline. The man was also likely high in neuroticism, making him more sensitive to negative emotions. Thus, having had a traumatic experience in his childhood that was related to illness and being psychologically predisposed to negative emotions, Howard was vulnerable to anxiety. Then, being a well-organized and methodical person, he could have developed an obsession with hygiene routine as a coping mechanism. Other symptoms of the obsessive-compulsive disorder of Howard Hughes are also related, and they could have developed in a similar way.

Understanding the personality traits of the patient and the potential causes of the disorder allow choosing interventions that are appropriate for each case. An integrated approach that includes forms of pharmaceutical and behavioral interventions is required to ensure an effective treatment (Clarkin, Cain, & Livesley, 2015). Deliberate voluntarily exposure to situations that trigger symptoms of the disorder is a useful technique that might be applied to such cases. This approach is based on the idea that by contacting with things that provoke obsessive thoughts and behaviors, without caring out compulsive acts, individuals learn to tolerate the stimuli. As Howard Hughes was probably high in the trait openness and inclined to experimentation and was a brave person, this method would likely have been very effective in his situation.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is associated with obsessive thoughts and compulsions to perform the same acts over and over. Conscientious people who are high in neuroticism are predisposed to be vulnerable to this mental condition. Traumatic sickness-related experience during childhood and the personality futures led Howard Hughes to develop a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Voluntarily exposure to the anxiety-provoking stimuli is the best technique that can be used to address such cases.

References

Clarkin, J. F., Cain, N., & Livesley, W. J. (2015). An integrated approach to treatment of patients with personality disorders. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 25(1), 3-12

Miller, J. D., Few, L. R., Lynam, D. R., & MacKillop, J. (2015). Pathological personality traits can capture DSM–IV personality disorder types. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 6(1), 32-40.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Howard Hughes's Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder." June 8, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/howard-hughess-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Howard Hughes's Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder'. 8 June.

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