Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What About Bob?


Movies that have characters with Psychological disorders are either of the comedic, or the horrifying in genre. Some movies do a better job than others at depicting the negative aspects of the disorders and putting them in a comedic light at the same time. The movie What About Bob?, Directed Frank Oz, shows a plethora of psychological disorders in a comedic light. From Agoraphobia, or the fear of open spaces, to Paranoid Personality Disorder, which causes people to suffer paranoia, which is a relentless mistrust and suspicion of anybody other than themselves, usually when there is no reason to fear, or be suspicious of anybody at all. Most of the characters in the movie express at least one major psychological disorder, and some even express two or more.
The movie What About Bob? Is about a successful psychiatrist (Richard Dreyfuss)
who goes on vacation for a month for an interview on national television for his book. He is expecting a peaceful, worry free vacation with his wife and kids until his newest patient Bob (Bill Murray), who suffers from severe OCD, multiple phobias, and dependent personality disorder, tries to get into contact with Dr. Marvin several times over the phone, and then finally goes to Marvin's vacation house, disturbing the doctor's peace. The doctor tries to get rid of him over and over again, but is unsuccessful, and becomes the antagonist of the movie. He becomes so obsessed with trying to get rid of Bob that he starts to lose both his mind, and his family, who find Bob to be a great person, though a bit weird. The rest of the movie continues with Dr. Marvin trying to get Bob to go home and be successful in his interview to gain world wide fame. The movie ends with Bob being successfully cured of all of his phobias, and Dr. Marvin going into shock after he indirectly blows up his vacation house while trying to kill Bob.
In the movie most of the main characters have a major Psychological disorder, and other secondary ones. Though the movie centers around Bob Wiley, each and every one of the characters' disorders are shown. Bob's major disorder is his dependent personality disorder. The disorder is the disorder where “a long-term (chronic) condition in which people depend too much on others to meet their emotional and physical needs”(Dependent personality disorder- PubMed Health). Bob is dependent on Dr. Marvin, he tries to desperately call him after only about a day after Dr. Marvin goes on vacation, and then fakes his own suicide to find out where the doctor was. Dr. Marvin's disorder in the movie is Paranoid Personality Disorder. People with this disorder have a relentless mistrust of anybody other than themselves, usually when there is no reason to fear, or be suspicious of anybody at all. Even though this disorder is not a “full-blown psychological disorder”(Paranoid Personality Disorder- PubMed Health), it becomes worse when, in Dr. Marvin's case, you have an acute stress reaction, which is when one is stressed even by the tiniest thing. Dr. Marvin's son, Sigmund Marvin, has Avoidant Personality Disorder. The disorder “is a mental health condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of feeling very shy, inadequate, and sensitive to rejection”(Avoidant Personality Disorder- PubMed Health). This is shown when he fails to dive off of their deck into the lake below, and his father's disapproval. The disapproval he feels from his father makes him both mad and sad, he feel as if his father will love him only if he dives into the water.
The movie does a good job depicting the Dependent Personality Disorder. However out of the eight major symptoms the one that was not shown was the avoiding of personal responsibility, however that does not mean that Bob did not have that problem, it just simply was not shown. However, the movie is spot on in showing all of the symptoms of paranoid personality disorder, including “concern that other people have hidden motives, the expectation that they will be exploited by others, the inability to work with others, social isolation, detachment, and of course hostility”(Paranoid Personality Disorder- PubMed Health). In representing Avoidant Personality Disorder on the other hand, the movie only hit two of the seven major symptoms, these include “being easily hurt when people criticize or disapprove of them, and making potential difficulties seem worse than they are”(Avoidant Personality Disorder- PubMed Health). However an argument can be made for the symptom of holding back in a relationship because Sigmund was only about ten, so naturally he was not in any type of intimate relationship.
Though the movie had some flaws in the representation of some of the major disorders shown, it is one of the closest in representing the disorders in a comedic light. Given the plot and setting, and some of the limitations of some of the characters it is acceptable to miss a few symptoms here and there. But in the end did a successful job in showing the severity of the disorders in a comic way.


Avoidant Personality Disorder- PubMed Health” U.S. National Library of Medicine, November 23, 2010. Web. February 22, 2012
Dependent personality disorder- PubMed Health” U.S. National Library of Medicine, November 23, 2010. Web. February 22, 2012
Paranoid Personality Disorder- PubMed Health” U.S. National Library of Medicine, November 14, 2010. Web. February 22, 2012

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