Howard Robard Hughes

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Howard Robard Hughes (December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976), a pilot, movie producer, playboy, and one of the wealthiest people in the world during his lifetime, was well-known for his eccentricity. His eccentric behavior is theorized to have been the result of obsessive-compulsive behavior. The intent of this review is to illustrate Mr. Hughes’s abnormalities, arrive at a clinical diagnosis using all five axes of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV-TR (DSM-IV-TR), explain his behavior from the biological theoretical perspective, and finally to arrive at a hypothetical treatment plan.


To begin, what constitutes abnormal behavior in Mr. Hughes’s case? As early as the 1930s, Hughes demonstrated signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessive compulsive disorder is identified by DSM as having recurrent obsessions (persistent thoughts, ideas, impulses or images that seem to invade a person’s consciousness) or compulsions (repeated and rigid behaviors or mental acts that people feel like they must perform in order to prevent or reduce anxiety) (Cormer, 2008). Close friends reported that Hughes was obsessed with the size of peas, one of his favorite foods, and used a special fork to sort them by size.

Those who interacted with him as a director comment of his obsessions. While directing a movie, Hughes became fixated on a minor flaw in an actress’s top, claiming that the fabric bunched up along a seam and gave the appearance of two nipples on each breast. He was reportedly so upset by the matter that he wrote a detailed memorandum to the crew on how to fix the problem (Hack, 2002). An executive producer who worked with Hughes wrote in his autobiography about the difficulty of dealing with the t...

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...h has shown that exercise, outdoor activity and socialization lead to increased serotonin levels and overall health (Young, 2007).

Although the biological treatment of drug therapy, physical therapy, and nutrition therapy will begin to produce desired results towards a cure, the prognosis for recovery from this disorder would be greatly enhanced by a combination of behavioral, cognitive, and drug therapies. Patients who receive a combination of such therapies yield greater relief from their symptoms than do singular approaches alone (Kordon et al., 2005).

It is unfortunate that Mr. Hughes was not able to receive adequate help for his disorder during his lifetime. Given the aforementioned treatment plan, along with the benefit of current research, and Mr. Hughes affluence to receive the best care, his prognosis during current times would have been quite good.

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