Six Movies That Emphasize a Character with O.C.D.

As someone who has OCD himself I figured it would be a good topic for an article.  For those that don’t know the clinical definition of Obsessive Compulsion Disorder, here’s a good one:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).  Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief.  Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety.

OCD can take many forms but most people know it as people who perform crazy physical acts over and over to get a sense of stability in life.   For example someone might lock and unlock a door 25 times before leaving a house, etc etc.

It hasn’t been the subject of cinema that often but when it has, OCD can provide for some powerful characters.   Here are seven movies with OCD characters

1. As Good as It Gets

Jack Nicholson’s Melvin Udall was a neurotic wolverine trapped in a man’s body. Completely isolated from the world due to his nuclear-grade personality disorder, Melvin scared away those he didn’t piss off.

Keen on pointing out the deficiencies (perceived or otherwise) of every person he encountered, Melvin was cruel in a blissful way that almost suggested the man didn’t have a choice in the matter.

Of course, as the film progressed, Melvin developed some patience for those around him and even discovered a little humanity that had either been lost or willfully discarded decades before. As a result, Melvin learned to feel bad about his nasty tendencies, and the audience learned to feel bad for him.

2. The Aviator

Before most people knew what O.C.D. was, or perceived of a condition even remotely similar to the actual illness, people knew about Howard Hughes and his crazy lifestyle.

When he died and they found Hughes, it’s said that his corpse had long tangled hair, uncut toenails, and weighed in at a mere 90 pounds.  Hughes was deathly afraid of germs. 

So much so that in one case Hughes was on a date and on that date he had to use the bathroom.   Hughes returned to dinner 90 minutes later because he had to wait for someone to open the bathroom door out of fear of touching the knob.

3. Matchstick Men

Roy Waller (played by Nicolas Cage) was only reliable during an operation, and quickly descended into a variety of mental disorders once he was left alone with the rat’s nest that was his mind.

Roy was agoraphobic and wildly O.C.D. up to the point that he had a hard time leaving his apartment at times. His particular compulsion involved a freakish paranoia about cleanliness and order. Some of the most entertaining moments of this film revolved around Cage scrubbing his carpet or organizing his wardrobe

4. What About Bob?

To call Bob “clingy” would be an insult to leg-hugging two-year-olds everywhere; Bob was on a different level when it came to his separation anxiety, and it was clear early on in the film that the germ phobias and social awkwardness played into a larger menu of issues.

By the end of the film, because of Bob’s O.C.D. Bob had blown up Dr. Leo’s cabin, married the man’s sister, and turned Leo’s son, daughter, wife, and sibling against him.

5. The Odd Couple

Jack Lemmon’s Felix Unger was on the skids and feeling a little suicidal after his marriage dissolved. After he showed up to Oscar’s poker game in a crying fit befitting a hand-smacked toddler, Felix was invited to move in, at least until the recently dumped crybaby got back on his feet.

Within a week, however, the new roommate was so far up Oscar’s butt about the organization and cleanliness of the apartment that Felix was nearly kicked out.   Clearly the opposite attraction is what made this film hilarious.

6. Mommie Dearest

Faye Dunaway often laments that she made this film, and sometimes credits “Mommie Dearest” with ruining, or at least setting back her career. It’s hard to watch this movie and not feel a little sorry for the woman for having to do the scenes she did. 

Talk about psychotic.   If Joan Crawford was even half as bad as portrayed in the film I feel sorry for anyone that was ever around her. One of the most infamous scenes in film history involved Joan wandering into her daughter’s bathroom and discovering a hint of dust. 

Already pisssed off because of her child’s violation of the house wire-hanger policy, Joan went into O.C.D. orbit, pretty much never to return. Christina, the daughter, watched as her mother destroyed the bathroom in a fit of psychotic rage, then suffered a pretty thorough beating at the hands of a once-great movie star.

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  1. Dirty Filthy Love (2004)
    A man’s life falls apart as a result of his affliction with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome in this touching and funny tale.

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