Howard Hughes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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Howard Hughes was a business tycoon, aviator, and film director who had a fear of germs that over time evolved into a phobia. With his fear of germs, Howard develops obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which throughout the film plagues his life with problems and challenges. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric condition in which unwanted obsessions or compulsions are very time consuming and cause a great deal of distress or impair daily functioning (Weis, 2013). This is very much true in the sense of Howard’s condition. The film begins with young Howard standing over what seems to be a small copper bath tub. His mother approaches him and the shot is focused on her hands as she takes out a bar of soap from a small tin box.…show more content…
There’s a scene where his mother’s tin box that carried the soap is used. It’s a special scene because it brings together the symbolism of his mother’s impact on him while he’s having a compulsion. Juan Trippe (a business rival) approaches Howard, Jack Frye (business associate), and their dates. After some conversing takes place, Howard ends up giving away their (TWA) entire post war strategy. This causes great stress for Jack. Jack lashes out on Howard and that results in Howard having to excuse himself from the table. An article from About Health written by Owen Kelly, PhD states, “If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you likely know that stress is a major trigger of OCD symptoms” (Kelly, 2016). The stress Howard experienced from giving away sensitive information to a business rival triggers Howard’s compulsion and he makes his way to the restroom to wash his hands. Whilst in the restroom, Howard pulls out the same small tin box that his mother used in the opening scene. Inside the tin box is a bar of soap and he then proceeds to washing his hands so vigorously that he cuts his right index finger. Once his hands are washed, he notices a small stain on his shirt and is forced to wash it out. When that’s over, he uses the last towel to dry off his shirt. As he makes his way towards the door, he notices that he’ll have…show more content…
235). Compulsions “are usually performed in a highly rigid and stereotyped manner, often according to idiosyncratic rules.” (Weis, 2013) Howard repeats himself because he wants that sentence to come out his mouth in a perfect way so he can get that sense of peace from satisfying that compulsion. If Howard would have just ignored it, it would not have not him any good because ignoring or trying to suppress obsessions tends to increase anxiety and subjective distress (Weis, 2013). However, “compulsion feeds the obsession rather than satisfying it” (Stellwagen, 2016). Because he has this compulsion of having to repeat himself, he is driven to keep doing it until the sentence comes out and feels perfect. Because Howard has been pushed over the tipping point, in order to reduce his feelings of distress, he engages in compulsions (Weis, 2013). Howard suffered from another compulsion when he had a melt-down in his theater room. While he’s in the theater room, Howard is reciting some instructions to some process and says at one point that if there is any variation at all in any of the instructions, that the entire process is to be repeated from the beginning. There are multiple scene’s during this part of the film where whilst having a meltdown, Howard is
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