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As Good As It Gets - Melvin Udall (NPD 101)

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As Good As It Gets - Melvin Udall (NPD 101)

Postby SelfSerf » Sat Feb 01, 2020 9:51 pm

I am not the first to make this observation but just recently rewatched the movie as I remembered liking it as a kid and to my surprise, it dawned on me how good of a portrayal Jack Nicholson´s character is down to perfect detail (all of Nicholson´s mannerisms and expressions). It´s inherently fraught with how messed up the way of thinking is for a covert (plus most likely malignant) narcissist as opposed to neurotypicals and people capable of true empathy.

Whoever wrote it is a genius or perhaps JN really put himself into the character, just playing himself (as his whole life and especially recent rapport of him seems to allude to the fact that he might not be far off from being one himself)

Melvin Udall is a mug, self-centered, misanthrope of a writer who lives a sheltered life in a world that he has complete control over. It´s over other people that he doesn´t so they are allowed only to play along if they fit the plot. He uses people only to the extent that he needs, (as extremely distanced self-objects) while he goes on in the world looking for a mother(ly) figure. When his character finds it in the form of Helen Hunt, her self becomes moot immediately. She becomes a prop in his life or a sort of trophy for him to adorn his already perfectly miserable life with and already in the movie there are moments where Carol tries to hold Melvin accountable for eroding her sense of self-worth. (She is not blind to it, but is being blinded through flattery and compliments [which Melvin understands is a ticket into her life].

Now this character is not without some redeemable qualities. There are moments in the movie where he seems to actually have sincere positive emotions (shortfelt) but they are mostly from a passive, receptive position and even then his mind is just overactive and keeps narrating his life so much he doesnt really experience it.

It all is simply an exceptional illustration of how a narcissist is not actually living in the real world. Being a professional writer of romantic novels, he takes great pride in the fact that he is capable of swooning the girl. And even though he has none of those qualities himself (probably fantasies only), as a narcissist, he still sees himself as the life of the party and the main character in everyone else´s story. He actually spends quite some time in the movie elucidating his lack of emotional understanding of life (some of the things he alludes to are the basic gist of human social interactions or rather shows what his expectations is of how people should behave but he himself is of course superior to all the typical niceties and social cues expected of people. He also often uses projection and calls others out on being a villain when in all reality, he is the one in the wrong.

He has all the schemas going on his head and he knows perfectly how the world should work as he is actually going along truly living and breathing other people as props. So it is with his gay artist neighbour who he has berated since the opening scenes. His neighbour who Melvin actually deplores, becomes the secondary supply for Melvin to sustain his newfound relationship with a woman who is obviously struggling and is shown to be in a vulnerable position.

He is alive only to the extent of all the narration going on his head, concurrently wearing a mask just as long as it is a good fit for the role he has set out for himself, mirroring and waiting for cues from others to know what his next act should be. (It´s all good as everything goes smoothly along, unless it doesnt after which he will be immediately upset by it and make others around him acutely aware of the fact that he is not pleased with how things are at that moment).

He has extreme OCD (which I think quite a few members of this sub-forum do), which is almost like ´magical thinking´ tics. As if he continues on doing them, his world will keep from falling apart. He also seems to be extremely paranoid with how he is perceived by others, to a certain extent, always scanning around (also during his proud moments). Alluding to the fact that he is only there experiencing them if others see it happening. He is of course rude to butlers and any others he deems lesser than him. He puts them down to gain any sort of self-esteem, which remains ever-elusive to him.

I could pick any number of scenes from that movie but it just reminded me so much of how narcissists are with their (un-)significant others and the way the movie ends is actually tragic, because his character played his way into this unassuming woman´s life and he knows the right poetic things to say, even if he doesn´t truly feel them. The narcissists truly remains a mere observer in their own life.

If anyone would want a an affirmation of really how sad and confined a narcissist´s life experience is, I would recommend this movie. A 10/10.

Also, found it hilarious that someone had written a case study on his character and prescribed prozac for the OCD as a couch psych. :mrgreen:

http://blog.udn.com/joannaliu/224925
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Re: As Good As It Gets - Melvin Udall (NPD 101)

Postby number230000 » Fri Feb 07, 2020 8:43 pm

I wouldn't be surprised if many narcissists have OCD tendencies, as both disorders are characterized by perfectionism.
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Re: As Good As It Gets - Melvin Udall (NPD 101)

Postby AProphet » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:09 am

SelfSerf wrote:Also, found it hilarious that someone had written a case study on his character and prescribed prozac for the OCD as a couch psych. :mrgreen:

http://blog.udn.com/joannaliu/224925


Lol that case study. Nice attention to detail. Couldnt comment much becouse I havent watched the movie, but I watched another one in which Nicholson played a secluded writer, and it didnt end shining for him. (pun intended)
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