EPISODE 14 TRANSCRIPT
07 | 24 | 17
So we finally have an episode you can enjoy with a bucket of popcorn. Knowing that a picture is worth a thousand words I thought it was about time I produced an episode with some cinematic examples of OCPD symptoms. It should be said that for the films and television series I’m going to be referencing, it’s very possible that this video contains spoilers. Please check the list of movies and tv shows I’ll be referencing in the description if you’re at all concerned about me ruining things for you. It’s sort of ok as I’m pretty used to that. But everything I’m referencing is at least a few years old, so you’ll probably be fine. If not, go check out these movies and come back to this video later.
That said, let’s talk about what we’ll be specifically looking at and what’s important to keep in mind. None of the examples I’ll be showing you explicitly state that the characters have obsessive compulsive personality disorder and I’m not saying that they have it either. What I will be showing you are characters in film that display common symptoms or personality traits of OCPD. I am in no position to diagnose someone in film no more than I am in real life. Also, many of these characters are assumed to have OCD. That brings me to my second point, which is that with an astonishing regularity, most of the time personality disorders are combined, misrepresented or muddled in film. This doesn’t bother me as much as it does some people. It is to be expected that a director and writer would take artistic license with mental health as they do with all other things in movies. On top of this, there are so many people involved in these projects that even if they started with an accurate representation in the script, by the time it gets to the public there’s an almost zero chance of it making it through unscathed.
If you are familiar with these films or if you go back and watch them, let me reiterate that many of the characters we will be looking at most likely have OCD, OCD combined with OCPD or neither and they’ve just been written with traits that match up well with what to expect with obsessive compulsive personality disorder. I guess the last disclaimer is that some of these characters are not people with which you would want to be associated with. Again, there are many subtypes of OCPD to keep in mind and most of the time mental health issues are not written as something subtle. These are supposed to be entertaining portrayals, so exaggeration is highly likely. Oh, and I’m not familiar with all of the television shows I’m referencing, so if I screw something up feel free to attack me in the comments. Alright, enough of me, let’s jump into the good stuff.
The first example is the film ‘As Good As It Gets’. For many this is the film that pops into their head when they think of OCD. This movie is a prime example of muddling up a bunch of disorders into one, and at the same time not being consistent with any of them. But this video isn’t about ripping apart inaccuracies, but rather illustrating symptoms I’ve talked about in past video.
This first scene depicts two mannerisms that could be tied to OCPD. The first is repeatedly checking the locks. Although highly repetitious rituals are not closely tied to the disorder, it might be possible to justify that the locks need to be turned a few times to really make sure you’ve done it well. But the flicking of the lights is more of the sort of ritualistic behavior of OCD. The extreme hand washing is something I’ve personally experienced. I’ve washed my hands many times to the point at which they are bleeding. For me it’s the sensation of oil or grease, but more commonly it would be for germs. The way he does it with multiple bars of soap is on the extreme end of thins, but again this is isn’t a subtle portrayal. Honestly I’m just jealous he can afford to invest in that much soap.
The next scene is an example of not having the ability to filter yourself. Whether it’s because your internal moral rules don’t allow for anything but brutal honesty, or you are just too caught up in your own way of thinking that you don’t understand the impact your words may have, this is a humorous look at being blunt. The character of Melvin doesn’t want to be disturbed and doesn’t understand why someone would not get that.
This scene here has two traits of OCPD tying into each of the last two scenes. The first being his inability to use the silverware provided at a restaurant. This calling back to his aversion to germs. The second is when he makes mention of the waitress Carol’s sick son in a nonchalant and hurtful way. He has affection for the character of Carol, so his intention is not malicious, but rather his inability to soften his words makes him come across as uncaring. He is caught up in his routine and this is a horrific result of that.
In this scene with his psychiatrist, Marvin demonstrates how someone with OCPD would find it difficult to effectively cooperate with a professional. It’s very tough to find a therapist that someone with this disorder wouldn’t find a reason for dismissing. Most people with this personality disorder never even make it as far as a psychiatrists couch as they’re likely to never come to terms with the fact that they have any sort of disorder in the first place.
Here we have a really good scene illustrating the rigidity one experiences surrounding rules, morality and ethics. What can make things difficult in being around someone with OCPD is that not only will that hold themselves to unrealistic standards in the pursuit of perfection, there is a likelihood that they will try and hold you to these standards as well. All the while completely unaware of how they are coming across or how much damage they are causing.
In these funny final two scenes we again get a taste of the inflexible nature of OCPD. In both situations Melvin is oblivious to the inconvenience he is causing in his rigid need to meet his own cleanliness standards. He is slightly more aware in the second example, but he doesn’t find it at all unreasonable to keep his date waiting for dinner while he literally goes shopping. Just to catch you up with what’s happening here, part of his OCD is the inability to step on a crack, hence not being able to enter the store.
The last thing I’ll mention before moving onto the next example, is that in cinema it is really common for love to cure whatever mental health issue is ailing the protagonist. This seems to upset a lot of people in real life as not only is it highly unlikely, it’s virtually impossible for love alone to be the solution to your mental disorder problems. As people have to date in the real world, they find it incredibly frustrating that other people think they can “cure” them if they just love them enough.
Next up is a quick example from the nineties television show ‘Frasier’, which was a spin-off from the tv show ‘Cheers’. One of the central characters is Dr. Niles Crane. In this scene, taking place at one of the shows regular locations Cafe Nervosa, in an entertaining way Niles demonstrates an intolerance on the part of someone with OCPD to accept anything less than perfection in others. He is portrayed as a pretty mild mannered character, but even so, when suffering with OCPD there is a compulsion to speak up no matter the risk to ones social standing.
For the next character, I’m just going to let this compilation of clips run. Death the Kid is one of the main protagonists in the manga series ‘Soul Eater’. In essence, Death the Kid is a grim reaper with an obsessive compulsive nature focused on symmetry. What is interesting is that his father, Lord Death, is the embodiment of law and order. As there may be a strong correlation to OCPD and nurture, it’s fitting that law and order are the two components most strongly attached to his father. So here are some pretty comical examples of the obsessive compulsive mind.
One of the disadvantages to the way this disorder is portrayed in media, is that you rarely see how someone is affected when they are on their own. The flip side is that many of these stories seek to show the impact this disorder has on those that are around someone with OCPD. In the television show ‘Desperate Housewives’, the character of Bree is in the hospital with her husband Rex whom she has accidentally just poisoned with a food he is allergic to. He apparently has asked for a divorce and explains why in this scene depicting how hard it can be to understand why someone with OCPD is so rigid.
In the movie ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’ we have one of the most consistent portrayals of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. The downside is that the character of Martin is also a psychopath. So for the sake of all of us, let’s please keep these things separate. Laura is married to Martin, a charming and wealthy investment counselor. It’s in the beginning of the film you are made aware of Martin’s obsessive compulsive behavior and how it drives his anger. In this first scene we get to see his obsession with order and control. And in the second scene we see the devastating effect this has on his wife and the quality of her life. This is one of the harder examples to watch.
Now for ‘Desperate Housewives’ and this next show ‘House M.D.’, I’m not at all familiar with them. I’m going off of research and what other people with OCPD have told me as regards the likelihood the character of Dr. Gregory House having the disorder. People feel strongly that he demonstrates a lot of characteristics that align with OCPD. I like this scene as it presents a character that has his own obsessive nature and it shows him recognizing this quality in House. It’s a scene that hits home for me and it shows the sad and lasting effects of not getting treatment for your mental health issues.
For the movie ‘The Odd Couple’ we also have a very close portrayal of OCPD. Along with that, it’s treated really respectfully and fairly accurately. I’m showing this scene not just because it illustrates his obsession with cleaning, but in a few brief seconds you are really exposed to the mental anguish that is caused by having this disorder. The desire to be understood, not judged and wanting to just be left alone to pursue these obsessions uninterrupted. The character of Felix is hurt because he is causing his roommate Oscar a lot of aggravation and he is also hurt because he feels attacked for doing what he believes is the right thing to do.
Not to stay too serious, the next film is a comedy. The plot to ‘Turner & Hooch’ isn’t really relevant here as I’m only going to show half of the opening credits. It’s also not relevant because how have you not seen every eighties movie starring Tom Hanks. There really is no excuse. Not much to say other than here is a great montage of potentially obsessive compulsive symptoms. Also, it’s a long montage and I cut it short, so keep in mind that the punchline at the end of this sequence is that he is just getting ready for bed. I can so relate.
This final example was something that was suggested recently. I rediscovered not only what a good film this was, but how well it illustrates a side of OCPD not often thought of. ‘Flash of Genius’ is a biographical film focusing on the life of inventor Robert Kearns and his legal battle against Ford Motor Company after they developed an intermittent windshield wiper based on his patents. The first two scenes I’m showing here are with his wife Phyllis and they show how insecure and full of self doubt someone with this personality disorder can be. Not only is it common for someone with OCPD to have unrealistic expectations of themselves, but it demonstrates that we may have a grandiose idea of who we should be and how not meeting that expectation leads to disillusionment and depression.
In the next scene with Robert and Phyllis, we get to see the frustration that comes from him realizing that not everything is under control. Although in this film Robert is portrayed as someone that deeply loves his family, he doesn’t seem to have the ability to stop himself from putting his obsessions ahead of them. But he is also able to see himself at times and you sense his frustration in not being able to align who he is with who he wants to be.
In this heartbreaking final scene near the very end of the film, Robert has won the battle that has taken up 12 years of his life, cost him his wife and caused so much hurt within the family. It shows how even when the costs are as high as they could ever be in life, someone with OCPD can find that they’ve been so singularly focused and obsessed on what they perceive to be justice, they can finally lift their head up to find they’ve lost everything they’ve ever cared about. It’s a sad ending, but a fitting one.
I don’t want to end this video on that note however. What I do want to do instead is leave you with a scene from one of my all time favorite movies. Harvey is a film about Elwood P. Dowd, an eccentric man whose best friend is a pooka, which is a creature of Celtic folklore. The existence of the pooka, which takes the shape of an invisible 6' tall rabbit, shapes Elwood's philosophy of life. This philosophy of life is something I’ve thought about ever since being diagnosed with OCPD and I will continue to think about every day I’m on this planet. I believe in it whole-heartedly, even if I find it very difficult to implement. So I leave you with guys with this.