As Good As It Gets Communication Essay

The movie, As Good As It Gets, brought out the true picture about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The production, As Good As It Gets, provides a base for people to learn more about the above anxiety disorder. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is brought about biologically, and it attacks the brain bringing in compulsions and obsessions. The compulsions and obsessions give an individual uncontrolled anxiety. This anxiety majorly affects the day to day functioning of an individual as the individual experiences repetitive compulsive behaviors. The compulsive behaviors assist them to prevent the feared anticipated results the obsession might bring.

When analyzing the movie, I gained more knowledge on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and the effects it has on the character that has it. We also understand the impact the disease has on the immediate relations of the character. The main character in the movie, Melvin Udall, is a middle aged man who is apparently despised by his neighbors. He lives in New York City, in an apartment where a female neighbor shows disgust when she meets him in the hallway.

The otherwise happy neighbor is clearly displeased by the condition of the main character. She insults the main character then moves into her apartment. Simon Bishop is another neighbor in Melvin’s flat. Bishop is gay and portrays to Melvin that he does not love anything. It is easy to see that the neighbors do not like Melvin. This can be attributed to his illness. The appalling behavior demonstrates how the people who surround people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder think of the disease (Leticia, 1999).

Melvin’s condition causes him to react weirdly to certain scenes. Melvin, the main character, picks up the neighbor’s dog and places it down the rubbish chute. When Melvin was confronted about the issue, he hurled insult to the neighbor, Simon, because he was gay. The insults also target Simon’s partner, Frank, the art dealer, because he is black. The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder causes Melvin to behave as if he enjoys insulting the neighbor, but it caused him great distress. This is shown when Melvin sighs a sign of relieve when he gets back into his apartment.

The main character, Melvin not only shows social ineptness but also shows compulsive behavior. This can be seen when he constantly counts aloud while he turns the top and then bottom lock five times each. This is done every time he opens or locks the doors. It is also demonstrated when he flicks the lights five times, washes his hands with very hot water and with a new bar of soap every time disposing full bars of soap at each wash. Melvin also has a routine systematic hand washing ritual that is done twice; he also disposes his used gloves outside his apartment (Craik, 2006).

Melvin’s behavior might be seen as insane, but his deeds are very normal. His psychiatric rehabilitation diagnoses show that he had a normal and stable living environment. He had clean items for his used and a well stocked array of assorted goods he needed for his day to day activities. Melvin did not share his apartment with anybody; therefore, he had complete control of the hygiene, orderliness and the people who visited his home. This is conceived to be a well functioning living environment for any human being.

The main character, Melvin, is a freelance writer. He works in the comforts of his home by himself. This shows that his working environment was also as controlled as his home environment. He appears to be satisfied with his life, both the lining environment and the work environment. Melvin’s vocational success, though it looks satisfied, is optimized because of his type of work environment and his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. His working environment allows for flexibility in scheduling to accommodate any fluctuations experienced. The fluctuations can be unexpected interruptions.

We see that there are consistent day to day expectations that make his work consistent and predictable. He also minimizes the need to make decisions and dictates his own work pace to accommodate his perfect behaviors and tendencies. The main actor avoids the need to work closely with others as he exercises full control of his working environment. He does not disclose his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. This is because his books sell and, therefore, he does not require any financial assistance.

Melvin’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder required assistance, but his environment prevents him to access it. The psychiatric diagnostic informs readers that the illness can be controlled and is symptom driven. Frank and Gagne show the failure of psychiatric diagnostic brought about by his extensive research. The outcome of psychiatric research is based on its success that requires no control over outcome or predicts rehabilitations (Trek, 2001).

There are people with mental disorders, like Melvin’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, who have not performed their role in life nor established their learning and social environments. It is important for people with the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to develop a psychiatric rehabilitation diagnosis that address the function and is environmentally driven. It is environmentally decided because different skills are required in different fields. If the patient is in the front office business, one might require different skills for the telephone receptionist and the welcoming attendant.

The psychiatric rehabilitation diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patients is specified to the individual patient. This follows the multi axial components. Assessment of the patient is done individually for the living standards, learning environment and achievement, social environment and working environment.

The main character’s condition can be addressed by use of both Axis 1 and Axis 2 diagnosis. His clinical disorders caused him to make rush reactions. They required medical attention to control his behavior. His mood and anxiety disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, requires Axis 1 intervention.

Melvin is also characterized as having mental disorders. His compulsive personality requires the Axis 2 interventions. He is avoidant, dependent, obsessive and compulsive. All these fit in the Axis 2 interventions (Bower, 2006).

The diagnosis in the field of psychiatry addresses illnesses and symptoms that drive them. Melvin demonstrates both compulsion and obsession and, therefore, we understand his medical requirements. Obsessions witnessed are his persistent ideas and hygiene habits. His impulses and thoughts are experienced as inappropriate and intrusive. This is because they cause distress and marked anxiety.Melvin’s fear of touching people or being touched can be explained as obsession as it is repeated thought of contamination. His aggression is seen in the decision of throwing the dog down the rubbish chute because he unexpectedly met it in the corridors.

Melvin does not have any commitment to change as he locks himself up in his ideal environment. He does not see the need of involving himself with others. Commitment and belief to change is necessary for every person with OCD. Melvin is advised to archive self closeness and correspond with the practitioner for assistance. His level at which he allows relationships is demanding. 

Melvin is self aware as he understands personal values and interest. He takes care of his interests and has created an ideal environment for himself. The self-awareness brought environmental awareness in him. He has knowledge of his past, present and future alternative environments.

My evaluation reveals that Melvin requires rehabilitation in some of the above areas. With assistance Melvin will develop his individual readiness with motivation and a more positive belief. Melvin lacks individual self-confidence and hence needs a push to complete any rehabilitation efforts.

The general rehabilitation that Melvin requires, overall rehabilitation goal, will be established if he achieves readiness to rehabilitation. The overall rehabilitation goal identifies specific environments for a period of six to twenty four months. It is established through a network of interviews where the client’s personal alternative environments and personal profile are examined. Without assistance Melvin will never access this help.

Melvin’s unpredictable, spontaneous and unplanned response shows the importance of interventions. Melvin gets upset when Simon knocks on his door. He becomes agitated, hurls insults at Simon calling him a stool pusher. He orders Simon not to knock on his door again and goes back to his writing. Few minutes later, Frank interrupts Melvin again. Fe unlocks the door chanting how he is really pissed. When Frank reaches for Melvin, Melvin begins to panic. He repeatedly yells not to be touched. Melvin’s responses show his impulsive nature. We see Melvin’s demonstration as an identified trait in his character. During confrontations, he erupts in distress and yet he cannot help himself (Stern, 1978).

The psycho dynamical nature of people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is explained as character rather than symptom. The reaction experienced by the patients, in this case Melvin, is formed by obvious patterns of behavior and consciousness. The attitudes are attributed the opposite of the impulses driving the individual. To neutrals, these factors are deemed very offensive. For a person who does not understand Melvin’s condition, it is very easy to misjudge him and take drastic measures against him. This could cause major emotional trauma and bodily harm to the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder patient. Therefore, information on the conditions of patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder should be readily availed to stop unnecessary harm to the patients. Melvin should accept his condition and come out to the community to avoid endangering his life.

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There's something about Jack Nicholson that makes you want to grin. Maybe it's the anticipation that you'll see him get away with something. He's the guy who knows the angles. His screen persona was established for all time the moment he told the waitress to hold the chicken salad between her knees in "Five Easy Pieces."

"As Good as It Gets" takes that attitude as far as it will go in the direction it was already headed: He plays an obsessive-compulsive curmudgeon whose communication with the world is mostly limited to insults--not funny ones, but comments intended to wound. It is some kind of twisted tribute to Nicholson that he's able to use this dialogue in what is, after all, a comedy. He hurls racist, sexist, homophobic and physical insults at everyone he meets, and because it's Nicholson, we let him; we know there has to be a payback somehow. If you see the movie, ask yourself how Nicholson's tirades would sound coming from any other actor. They'd bring the film to an appalled halt.


Nicholson plays Melvin Udall, a man who crouches in the apartment where he has ground out 62 romance novels for women. Asked how he writes the female characters so convincingly, he replies, "I think of a man. And I take away reason and accountability." He hates everyone in the building, and the movie opens with him hurling his neighbor's little dog down the garbage chute. Then he marches out to take his habitual meal in a nearby restaurant, where he lays out his own plastic cutlery.

"Sometimes you must try other people's clean silverware, as part of the fun of eating out," advises Carol the waitress (Helen Hunt). She waits on him, but she doesn't like him, and when he makes a disparaging remark about her asthmatic son, she makes him take it back, or she will never, ever serve him again. Since she's the only waitress who will serve him, and since this is the only restaurant he will eat in, he backs down. (Later, when he's finally thrown out of the restaurant, there's applause from the regulars.)

We meet Melvin's neighbor, the dog owner. He's a gay artist named Simon (Greg Kinnear), who is beaten up one day by the friends of one of his models. During his recovery, his agent and dealer (Cuba Gooding Jr.) insists that Melvin take care of the little dog, which has been rescued from the garbage. Melvin doesn't want to, but he does, and to his amazement (but not ours) he develops a grudging affection for the mutt.

"As Good as It Gets" was directed by James L. Brooks, whose films ("Terms of Endearment," "Broadcast News") show original characters in unexpected lights. This film, co-written with Mark Andrus, creates memorable people, but is not quite willing to follow them down unconventional paths. It's almost painful, watching the screenplay stretch and contort these characters to fit them somehow into a conventional formula--they're dragged toward the happy ending, screaming and kicking all the way.

If the movie had been either more or less ambitious, it might have been more successful. Less ambitious, and it would have been a sitcom crowd-pleaser, in which a grumpy Scrooge allows his heart to melt. More ambitious, and it would have touched on the underlying irony of this lonely man's bitter life. But "As Good as It Gets" is a compromise, a film that forces a smile onto material that doesn't wear one easily. Melvin is not a man ever destined to find lasting happiness, and the movie's happy ending feels like a blackout, seconds before more unhappiness begins.


Yet there's so much good here, in the dialogue, the performances and the observation, that the movie succeeds at many moments even while pursuing its doomed grand design. Consider Melvin's decision to arrange for the medical treatment of Carol's son. The little boy suffers agonizing asthma attacks, but through Melvin, Carol is able to find a dedicated doctor (Harold Ramis) who can do some good. The material here is right out of a silent weeper: Repentant Scrooge helps poor child to breathe again. But by casting the wonderfully droll Ramis as the doctor and skewing the dialogue just slightly, Brooks makes it new and screwy.

The main story line gets a similar treatment. It becomes clear that Melvin has been destined by the filmmakers to become a better man: First he accepts dogs, then children, then women, and finally even his gay neighbor. But Brooks and Andrus, having blocked out this conventional progression, then write against it, using rich irony so that individual scenes seem fresh even while the overall progress follows ancient custom. When Melvin goes back for a belated visit to his onetime therapist, for example, they give him a perfect line: "How can you diagnose someone as having obsessive-compulsive disorder and yet criticize him for not making an appointment?"

There were times, watching "As Good as It Gets," when I hoped the movie might go over the top into greatness. It had the potential. The pieces were in place. It was sad to see the filmmakers draw back into story formulas. Maybe the studio, mindful of the $50 million price tag, required Brooks to channel his obstreperous material in a safe direction. One can imagine an independent filmmaker, with a smaller budget, taking dialogue and characters like these and following them into the wild blue yonder. One can imagine Brooks, Nicholson and Hunt doing it, too. That's why the film left me with such a sense of lost opportunities.


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