The Aviator: Obsessive Compulsive Disor
This paper attempts to psychoanalyze Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Howard Hughes, in the film The Aviator. Extraordinary individuals such as Mr. Hughes are a vital reason why abnormal psychology is extensively studied. Whereas the majority of those suffering from mental illness may be in a lower class, physically disabled, or homeless, this essay provides an in-depth psychoanalysis of one the wealthiest people in the world during the early 1900’s. Howard Hughes has now emerged as one of the 20th century’s most iconic business and aviation figures spawning a wide range of cultural references. To date, Hughes’s persona has been used in over fourteen different films. The most popular of which, The Aviator, accurately depicts the progression
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Howard Hughes shows many characteristics of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This illness may of possibly manifested in early childhood and worsened as stressful events in adulthood occurred. It is very likely that genetic influences and environmental stressors have contributed to his disorder. The most indicative symptoms displayed by Hughes are his obsession with perfection, contamination, compulsive/impulsive behaviors, and general anxiety. As the disorder progresses, psychotic and manic episodes became more severe and prevalent. Stress would often lead to paranoia, which then turned into compulsions that disrupted normal functioning. His abnormal functioning manifested in hallucinations, outbursts, and flight of ideas (American Psychological Association, 2013).
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Up till this scene, Howard’s obsessive compulsions did not entirely get in the way of his functionality. In fact, his quest for perfection had made him the successful man he had become till this point in the film. Kate walks into his office one night and drops the news of her love for another man. This event opened the floodgate of stress and instability in his life. Howard decides to burn all his clothes, possibly because Kate had touched or been near them, and impulsively calls a manager of his at two in the morning to order new clothes. Howard spends the night looking deeply into the fire, thoughts stirring into a high state of paranoia and stress written all over his expression. In the following scene, Howard is holding open auditions for a female companion after just losing who he thought was the love of his life. The girl he chooses is only fifteen years old, and besides from being beautiful, is the complete opposite of the witty Kate Hepburn. The pattern of promiscuousness and immoral behaviors with women becomes apparent after this heartbreaking and traumatic