Monday, February 17, 2014

The Truth about OCD: A Real-Life Example

I am thankful for all of the organizations and people who have worked to make the public aware of mental illness and convince them that is nothing to joke around about.  At the same time, I constantly encounter people, including friends, who joke about their "OCD" acting up - when they see something out of place, when a line painted on the road is crooked, when a pencil is upside down, whatever.

What a coincidence - my annoyed psychologist senses are tingling
As a response to these jokes and comments, allow me to present something that just happened to me.  I went out to my car to run a quick errand, and saw one of my neighbors outside cleaning off her car that was parked next to mine.  She said hello and kept brushing.  I've seen her before and strongly suspect she has OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), but will admit I don't know that for sure.  She always seems very sedate when I talk to her, so she is probably on some pretty heavy anti-anxiety meds to help control the condition (or she has something else I'm not aware of and can't detect because she's so heavily medicated).

She walked around her car once, continuing to brush as I started my car and got my brush out.  And when I say she was brushing the snow off her car, I mean she was brushing each and every flake off of her car, off of the windows, the sides, the tires, the headlights.  Her car was clean - far cleaner than mine was even after I finished brushing.  The wind picked up and blew some of the snow from my car onto hers.  I apologized, and she smiled and kept brushing, each new flake that flew onto her car being immediately brushed off.  And as new snow started to fall, she continued walking around her car, brushing.  

I don't know how long she had been out there before I came outside, or how long she was there after I left.  But my heart went out to this poor lady, who could not stop brushing her car until every single flake was gone.  I look out the window and see that it is snowing now, and I think of what a futile task it is to want - no, need - every single flake of snow off of the car.

Desiring order in all things, being really bristled when something is not perfect - that's not the same thing as what this woman experiences, where desiring order, obsessing over each little detail, keeps her from being able to move forward; where her compulsion for things to be perfect keeps her from being able to complete a simple task like cleaning off her car.

I'll resist the urge to go on.  And for my friends out there who make comments about their OCD, I will only say - if you really truly think that your need for order and perfection constitutes a mental illness, please get help.  But if you are just using this diagnosis as a joke, or a "prettier" way of referring to your anal retentive nature, think about this woman, and how every single flake on her car needs to be gone before she can get in and drive away.

Thoughtfully yours,

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Digital Recreation: Practical Movie-Making or Grave-Robbing?

It's been less than a week since Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his apartment.  Like many people, I was in shock over the news.  Not only was he one of my favorite actors - and my frequent example of incredibly versatile actors who could take on pretty much any role - I was only vaguely aware of his drug problem.  I heard the news through a story posted by a friend on Facebook, and had to Google and check multiple news sites before I believed it wasn't a hoax.

I thought over some of my favorite movies in which he appeared, and had the urge to watch them, but thought that would be kind of morbid.  I also remembered seeing him in the latest Hunger Games movie and absent-mindedly thought, "Hmm, I wonder what they'll do about his character."

And then today I found out.  Hoffman had finished filming Mockingjay Part I, and had only a week left of filming on Mockingjay Part II.  To complete the one major scene Hoffman had left, the film-makers will use digital effects to recreate Hoffman.

The more I thought about this, the more I thought, "Wow, apparently Hollywood gets to decide when you're actually dead or not."  I was reminded of the Ed Wood film, Plan 9 from Outer Space, regarded as one of the worst movies ever made.  The movie starred Bela Lugosi, a man known for his portrayal of Dracula.  Lugosi and Wood became friends, and Lugosi appeared in many of Wood's movies.  When Lugosi died during filming of Plan 9, due to complications from methadone and morphine addiction, Wood was devasted… but also had a movie to finish.  They found a man (his wife's chiropractor) who looked like Lugosi from the eyes up, and had him cover his face with a cape for his scenes as the reanimated Lugosi (reanimated both in the sense of the character - who died and was brought back by aliens - and reanimated in the same sense Hoffman will be).

True, Hoffman's digital recreation for Mockingjay Part II will only be for one scene (or so the film-makers say), while Lugosi's double appeared in a large chunk of the movie.  So we may only be talking about 10 or so minutes.  And this certainly wouldn't be the first time a movie was released after one of its actors had died.  But where do we draw the line?  Now that computer effects have gotten so good that this kind of recreation is possible - and probably won't even be noticeable to the viewer - is this something we will see more of in the future?  Where do we say, "Okay, that amount of digital recreation is acceptable" and where do we say, "That's going to far"?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Thoughtfully yours,