Case Study: Melvin Udall from “As Good as It Gets” Essay
Melvin Udall suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Melvin sticks to the same routine every day in order to not upset himself, if one thing goes wrong in that daily routine, Melvin’s entire day seems to be ruined to the point where he cannot function well. Melvin is afraid of the germs that are all around him. He does not enjoy being touched in any way, or by anyone, whether it is a stranger walking down the street or a friend, of which Melvin does not have many.
Melvin always enters his house and turns around to lock the door, which he counts as he does, turning the lock five times before he is certain that he will avoid any danger that might come if he does not fulfill these rituals; he has the same ritual when turning on the lights in his home. Melvin is also a constant hand washer, only using a bar of soap one time before throwing it away. He washes his hands and showers with extremely hot water in order to kill these germs and avoid any type of sickness or ailment that they might bring along.
Melvin eats breakfast in the same restaurant, at the same table, with the same waitress, every morning. Routine is a necessity for Melvin, if one thing in his normal routine is disrupted, whether it is people eating at “his table,” or the waitress that normally brings him his food is not at the restaurant he becomes quite irritable. Melvin gets very uncomfortable and almost panicked in these situations and often uses sharp-tongued insults in order to calm himself down, or to get his way. It is almost as if Melvin has no regard for those around him, he is only concerned with himself.
This is linked to the disorder, the obsessive thoughts that he has can only be fixed by one thing, the daily compulsions that he has in order to avoid some serious disaster that would occur if these daily rituals are not completed. Melvin also will not walk on a crack or line in the sidewalk, again to avert from some serious disaster occurring. Again, in walking to wherever he is going, he has no regard for the other individuals walking down the sidewalk, simply wanting to get to where he is going without stepping on those cracks.
This condition has a considerable effect on Melvin’s life, not only do these numerous compulsive behaviors take up a lot of time in his life, the reactions that he’s, including his disregard for others and the insults that he throws at people portray him as a mean and stubborn man; which leaves him quite lonely with no friends. Melvin sought treatment into his disorder from a psychiatrist, for which he was prescribed medication to help him. He finds it hard to take the medication, which is in pill form, again an unrealistic worry that he will choke on the pill or not be able to swallow it, and subsequently die from the whole ordeal.
Melvin is not a very open person about his disorder; he seemingly finds it hard to talk about what it really is that makes him do and say the things that he does. Melvin does find motivation for his treatment in the form of love. He finds that it is easier to take his medication when he is in the company of Carol; the waitress that brings him is breakfast daily. The thought of being with her soothes Melvin’s need for the compulsions in his life; he is more at ease when he is with her.
Melvin unknowingly at first does not feel the need to fulfill his compulsions when he forgets to lock his door, counting it five times, when he returns to his apartment one night. He also finds himself being able to do things, such as stepping on the lines and cracks in the sidewalk when he is in the company of Carol. It is quite absurd to think that Melvin’s condition was cured by love, but it is easy to say that finding love and support helped to motivate Melvin to seek treatment to better control his disorder, which made him a much happier and healthier person.