The movie “As Good as it Gets” by James Brook features Jack Nicholson, an accomplished writer, who has already written sixty-one books. Melvin Udall (Nicholson) suffers from the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that seems to affect his character. In addition, the disorder affects the way he relates with the likes of Simon Bishop and the gay painter both of whom are his neighbors.
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He does not care the repercussions of any of his actions; for instance, he comfortably throws his neighbor’s dog down the apartment oblivious of the danger of doing such a thing. His act of tormenting the restaurant’s staffs, for example Carol, further illustrates his intolerable behavior.
When Simon is admitted to hospital, Melvin is reluctant to take care of his (Simon’s) dog. However, pressure from Frank, an art dealer of Simon, forces him to take the dog into his house.
This action opens up Melvin’s, heart making him develop emotional attachment to carol’s sick son and as a result, he arranges for his Medicare (Leong, 1997, p.23A). His relationship with Carol and Simon also improves. Consequently, all these three characters stop living isolationistic lives and become more sociable.
The DSM-IV diagnostic criteria reveal that an obsessive–compulsive disorder manifests itself in three different ways viz. through obsession, compulsion or a combination of both obsession and compulsion. To highlight the obsessions, it is worthy to mention that the patient experiences endless thoughts or images that result into anxiety.
Since the thoughts are not just worries about normal life problems, the sufferer tries to overlook them or sometimes tries to suppress them by having different thoughts (Leckman, Denys, Simpson, Mataix-Cols, Hollander, Saxena, Miguel, Rauch, Goodman, Phillips, & Stein, 2010, p. 509). A sufferer of obsessions is normally able to discern that the thoughts, images, or sometimes impulses of obsession purely come from the mind; the patient acknowledges that such thoughts are not externally generated.
After it occurs to Melvin that he has to look after Simon’s dog, Melvin manages to fight the obsession of cruelty to the dog and accepts to look after it. For compulsions, the sufferers of this disorder display behaviors dominated by repetition for example the act of Melvin continuously harassing workers in the restaurant and continuous wrongdoing without fearing the repercussions.
Given the frequent obsessions and compulsions they undergo, sufferers of obsessive-compulsive disorder face many problems. First, people around them tend to avoid them. At the restaurant, only one waitress is able to stand Melvin’s behavior but she does so in vain. All other workers avoid him because of his character, which hinges on his obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The fact that Melvin gets closer to his neighbors only after he overcomes his condition and starts appreciating those around him implies that his obsessive and compulsive character has been isolating him from people. The repetitive actions by people with this disorder normally results in time wastage and emotional coupled with financial loss.
The standard treatment option for emotionally and financially distressed victims is professional counseling (Freeston & Ladouceur, 2003, p.336). The patients can also receive medication such as a therapy of antidepressant, benzodiazepines, psychosurgery, and electroconvulsive therapy among others.
For small children and adolescents suffering from this disorder, therapeutic treatment is the most appropriate form of treatment. Nevertheless, it is important to note that, antidepressants might have serious side effects given the fact that “even the drug companies themselves admit that they don’t quite know how the drugs work” (Dubovsky, 1997, p.16).
Moreover, Glenmullen warns, “there is also an established direct link between suicide and violent behavior and the use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors [SSRIs]” (2000, p.56). Therefore, antidepressants should be taken under strict instruction of a doctor to minimize or avoid the potential side effects.
In my current or future occupation, I would alter interactions with an individual with this psychological disorder in different ways to suit their needs better. First, since they know that their condition is a result of what happens in their mind and not outside, I would recommend to them the need to see a psychologist. I would also not react violently to their intolerable behaviors but would instead help them to fight their condition.
The effort by Frank to put pressure on Melvin played quite a significant role in transforming Melvin’s heart from being cruel to an emotionally attached person, capable of appreciating what is happening to others. In fact, it forms a basis that sees Melvin stand for medication on Carol’s son.
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Lastly, I would suggest for a behavioral therapy in the affected parties. In this practice, I would advice them to always endeavor to fight the anxiety that comes with the obsession over something. As a result, they would slowly start fighting their obsession, which is a bold step towards fighting the disorders and its symptoms.
The characteristics of the obsessive-compulsive disorder are intrusive thoughts. These thoughts always result in
- Repetitive actions whose main aim is to reduce anxiety
- A combination of the intrusive thoughts also called obsessions and behaviors also called compulsions are also characteristics of the obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The symptoms of the obsessive-compulsive disorder include
- Obsessions for example general disarray, fear of death of people close to them, fear of harm from the devil, disease or God, sexual obsessions like rape and doubtfulness that triggers self criticism.
- Compulsions; for example, biting of nails, plucking of hair, picking of the skin excessively, counting particular things, and doing repetitive actions such as washing hands following a particular sequence or pattern. Compulsions are always aimed at escaping recurrent thoughts.
Dubovsky, S. L. (1997). Mind-Body Deceptions: the psychosomatics of everyday life. New York: WW Norton & Co.
Glenmullen, J. (2000). Prozac Backlash: overcoming the dangers of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and other antidepressants with safe, effective alternatives. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Freeston, M., & Ladouceur, R. (2003). What do patients do with their obsessive thoughts? Behaviour Research and Therapy. London: Penguin Group.
Leckman, J. et al. (2010). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Review of The diagnostic Criteria and Possible Subtypes and Dimensional Specifiers for DSM-IV. Depression and Anxiety, 27(6), 507-527.
Leong, A. (1997, December 3). As Good As, It Gets Movie Review. The New York Times, pp. 23A.