02.09.2020 in Informative

Abnormal Psychology


Over the last few decades, the problems of mental illnesses have been brought to the media through movies acted where characters depict a particular challenge. A couple of movies have been produced where the central theme is mental challenges facing people in the society. In this paper, the principal analysis focuses on the movie, The Aviator by Martin Scorsese, which features a character who is mentally ill with a condition which makes him lose focus even after being successful in the business world. Leonardo DiCaprio is a tycoon who takes the lead character in the movie and is depicted as a talented business person who later suffers from a mental condition known as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The Aviator narrates a life story Howard Hughes, who was a rich filmmaker and an aeronautics engineer.

Hughes is seen to be suffering from OCD symptoms which make him relatively incapacitated in most of the times, although in the first few moment of the movie he appears to be functioning well. OCD stimulates people’s actions where it makes them repeat the same thing over and over again in a bid to avoid getting into problems. People who suffer from this condition are known to perform rituals which they well understand that are useless to the situations facing them. Hughes is seen to have a lot of fear for contamination, and he can do so many activities to ensure he does not get germs. These are some of the symptoms of OCD where the patient repeats stereotypical activities in a bid to ensure that they are safe, even if their efforts are known to be insignificant. The fear of Hughes reminds him of the time he was a child, and his mother warns him of being careless about getting contaminated with germs. This makes him grow extra careful about germs in his adult life.

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Section 1

Hughes is seen ordering unopened bottles of milk in a restaurant to ensure he does not take a contaminated drink and also ordering the same type of food all the time. He goes ahead to wrap the wheels of a plane in a claim that he was protecting them from getting germs when the plan lands. Hughes moves around with a piece of soap which he uses when visiting public restrooms to avoid sharing soap with other people. Although he is seen to have a mild condition of OCD, it reaches a time when he gets worse due to stress. As the film progresses, Hughes forms phrases which he repeatedly recites and in case he misses a word he repeats from the beginning again as a sign of severity in his mental condition. He gets to a point where he washes his hands until he begins to bleed and avoiding going to public places in the claim that he is avoiding germs. This extreme behavior is a symptom of severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder where the victim goes to extreme extents in a bid to achieve an objective they are stuck in their mind.

The portrayal of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is complicated and affected by the personality character of Hughes since he is naturally a perfectionist who comes closer to the symptoms of the condition. Hughes withdrawal from public places complicates the understanding of his OCD category since the initial symptoms were different. Typically, there are four classed of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which includes hoarding, fear of contamination, constant checking, and intrusive thoughts. Initially, Hughes suffered from fear of contamination, and he does everything possible to avoid germs, but later he is seen portraying some symptoms of hoarding where he withdraws from going to public places. This is an error made in the movie since the central theme was fear of contamination and not hoarding.

Section 2

Watching the movie becomes confusing when he seems to have a change of his symptoms, making the movie change theme becoming difficult to understand what the director was trying to bring out in the character’s behavior. His perfectionist character mixes with the symptoms of OCD, making it challenging to understand what is driven by the mental condition or his character at the beginning of the film. Hoarding is a different disorder but has a relationship with OCD where the victim gets extremely stressed, and Hughes suffers this condition in the final scenes of the movie. This stress causes the withdrawal of the victim to things that used to interest them, opting to be alone in seclusion. Another error made in the movie is a sudden change of thoughts and behavior by Hughes when he leaves the home where he considers safe to attend a Senate hearing. Such sudden change of behavior is not frequent with people who have OCD, and this becomes an error in acting. Lastly, Hughes loves relating intimately with many women and taking risks which are a behavior not related to his mental problem.

Section 3

The movie is a good set of scenes which seeks to teach people about the causes, symptoms and effects of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The director can create different levels of the condition from the time it starts, the way life changes for the character as it progresses and the extreme effects as the movie ends. Hughes is also able to take the role of an OCD patient and show the extremity of the condition. The Aviator is a good movie to watch, and it brings to life the reality of mental challenges in the society and the effects of living with such people. This movie shows special scenes where the behaviors of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder victim are brought out in a comic way to show the difference in symptoms. The movie also brings out some aspects of Hughes’ life that are not related to the condition including promiscuity and risk-taking where he is reported to have several sexual relations with high-profile women in the society who include models. The movie pieces together different situations which depict a decade-long man’s struggle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Since I knew about the disorder, the movie only confirmed my understanding and enlightened me on the depth dimensions of the condition. However, insufficient time is dedicated to the treatment of the condition, since most of the film focuses on how it changed his life for the worse. Hughes is seen when he is suffering from OCD and other times when his mind functions normally, and he gets to his businesses. This is a reality portrayal of the condition and how much it affects the victim’s life.


In conclusion, The Aviator is an American film directed by Martin Scorsese and playing Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, who is a businessman and a billionaire who excels in the field of aeronautics engineering. The movie draws a picture of a businessman who struggles for a decade with a mental challenge called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder which makes the victim suffer mental swings and get interested in things he assumes to be meant for protecting him from germs. Hughes is a true reflection of a person who suffers from perfectionism in life coupled with a severe medical condition which partially incapacitates him. At the start of the movie, the main character is seen getting scolded by his mother for being careless about contamination, and when the mental condition sets in at his adult age, his mind triggers the feeling of fear for what his mother was warning him. He does everything possible to protect himself from germs to a point he carries his bar soap whenever he is going to public places in a bid to ensure that he washes his hands thoroughly and with a safe soap. As the movie progresses, he is seen to suffer an extreme change of mental status where he washes his hands until they begin to bleed. This movie is a good piece of choreography which can be recommended for educational purposes for people seeking to understand Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder causes and symptoms.

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