Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the Movie “As Good as It Gets” in Apa Format

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As Good as it Gets and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Running head: AS GOOD AS IT GETS AND OCD As Good as it Gets and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Melvin Udall lives a very unhappy, isolated life as a writer. He spends most days indoors with the exception of his daily trip to his local restaurant, where he methodically performs a multitude of rituals before actually eating. He walks on the sidewalk so as to avoid stepping on cracks and brushing against other people. He wears gloves and wipes off the handles of doors. He brings his own silverware and sanitizes his immediate area all upon sitting down.

He insists upon the same server every time—Carol—whom he treats poorly and you would never assume he actually prefers. The people in his apartment building detest him, as he is always abundantly rude to them. He has no tolerance for different sexual preferences, ethnicities, religions, or people in general. He also dislikes dogs. Melvin is diagnosed as having Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. His life is the complete product of his disorder, and everywhere he goes and everything he does is related to it in some way. Melvin is out of control, lonely, and unhappy.

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In an instant, Melvin’s life changes. His neighbor Simon—the gay artist—is beaten horribly by some teenagers. In a strange turn of events, Simon’s art dealer, Frank, forces Melvin to look after Simon’s dog while he recovers in the hospital. Although entirely reluctant, Melvin begins to warm up to the dog, with the pooch even mimicking Melvin’s compulsive and ritualistic behavior. Soon Melvin encounters another challenge, because he arrives at his local restaurant, and Carol is not there to serve him. She is home with her AS GOOD AS IT GETS AND OCD young son, who is very sick.

He ends up getting thrown out of the restaurant, followed by applause from the regulars. Melvin finds out where Carol lives and actually goes to her home. She is disgusted, but also slightly touched. He offers to pay her doctor bills, and even to pay for a specialist if she comes to wait on him again. Gradually, Melvin begins to fall in love with Carol, as well as the little dog, Verdell. After coming to terms with his own failings, he starts to experience and demonstrate compassion. This change does not come easily, however, and Melvin resorts back to his old ways causing a number of problems.

With much hemming and hawing, Melvin finally states that because of his affection for Carol, he decided to take medication for his OCD. When Carol wants to know why that is a compliment, he says that being with her makes him want to be a better man. Diagnosis According to the DSM-IV-TR, people with OCD suffer from recurrent obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are defined as “persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress”, which are difficult to dismiss, despite their disturbing nature.

These experiences are more intrusive than excessive worries about real-life problems, and they are unlikely to be related to these kinds of problems. Persons who suffer from OCD try to ignore, suppress or neutralize their obsessions with some other thought or action and recognize that they are a product of their own mind. AS GOOD AS IT GETS AND OCD Melvin Udall has repetitive thoughts about germs and diseases. Even though the portrayal of OCD seems realistic in most parts of this movie, it would be unlikely for clients to handle a dog when they have an obsession about cleanliness as severe as this character.

Melvin tries to neutralize his intrusive thoughts with compulsive actions. He is aware that his are obsessive thoughts are a product of his own mind since he reflects on them in a conversation with Carol. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors such as excessive or unreasonable cleaning, checking a stove or locks on doors, hand washing, requesting assurances, or mental acts, such as repeating certain words silently, counting, or praying excessively.

These behaviors either serve as coping mechanisms to reduce the discomfort with the anxiety or distress caused by the obsessive thoughts temporarily, or – unrelated to an obsession – they are performed according to rules that must be applied rigidly. In the majority of cases these actions are designed to prevent some dreaded event or situation. However, in other cases there is no obvious logical connection between the two. Throughout this whole “love story”, Melvin is plagued by his OCD, as are others by sheer association. His disorder is so extreme that his unhappiness compounds the problem.

His scathing remarks get him in trouble with Simon, Carol, Simon’s art dealer, his neighbors—basically everyone he comes in contact with. You can actually see the good, sweet man underneath Melvin Udall’s awful exterior. It is obvious how horribly he feels just after spitting his biting remarks and insults. He has become such an angry person, because he isolates, offends, and therefore is lonely. His tendency to lash out is AS GOOD AS IT GETS AND OCD partially due to his frustration over his condition, and partially a defense mechanism.

If Melvin lashes out at other people first, he will put himself on the offensive. If he is on the offensive, then he is not on the defensive and subject to being victimized because he is different. This most likely resulted from prior childhood incidences. Melvin shows progress after taking his medication, but it is abundantly clear that he will need the love, support, and companionship of Carol and Simon to encourage him to take his meds and maintain his progress.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the Movie “As Good as It Gets” in Apa Format. (2016, Oct 29). Retrieved from


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