Howard Hughes : The World 's Most Brilliant And Eccentric Aviator And Film

Howard Hughes : The World 's Most Brilliant And Eccentric Aviator And Film

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Howard Hughes appears to be the world’s most brilliant and eccentric aviator and movie director in the film The Aviator (Mann & Scorsese, 2004). He is admired, wealthy and powerful. However, throughout the course of the film, his eccentricities lead to significant impairment. Paranoia, impulsivity and fears of contamination plague his thoughts and behaviors. He becomes unable to cope with being in public and he cannot maintain personal or professional relationships. As a result, Howard is left isolated, losing his social support and success. It is evident that he has symptoms that are characteristic of both obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar I disorder. His behaviors become so impairing and distressing that they impact every sphere of his life.
Howard Hughes’ behaviors are consistent with many of the elements of abnormality. In The Aviator, he creates much social discomfort due to his fear of contamination. When Howard is in a public restroom thoroughly washing his hands, he notices an elderly handicapped man approaching the sink. He begins to sweat and he becomes extremely tense as the man draws closer to the sink. Howard’s anxiety intensifies when the elderly man asks him to hand him a towel. Howard ultimately refuses to help him, which leaves the man angry and frustrated with Howard’s odd behavior (Mann & Scorsese, 2004). For the average person, handing someone a towel is a simple, nonthreatening act. Howard’s refusal is therefore confusing and is creates social strain for the elderly man. Later in the film, Howard is in a meeting with one of his colleagues. Howard notices that there is some dust on the lapel of his colleague’s jacket. He is disgusted by the dust and demands that his colleague cleans it off immediately,...


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... sooner and that the washing behaviors are no longer required.
The portrayal of OCD in The Aviator was accurate for the most part. However, the writers did exaggerate or exacerbate Howard’s disorder by the addition of psychotic features, such as mania and hallucinations. Most of society does not see disorders through the lens of a psychology student or mental health professional. Therefore this depiction of OCD could be confusing to the average observer. Additionally, the film does not do any justice for mental disorders. Howard Hughes is represented as extremely unstable, unpredictable and strange. While this can be the nature of people with mental illnesses, the viewer is not given any hope for his recovery. Therefore society might view people with mental illnesses in this permanently negative and unapproachable state, as opposed to a condition that can be helped.

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