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WHAT ABOUT BOB? (Frank Oz, US, 1991). THEMES: PSYCHOTHERAPY, TRANSFERENCE PROBLEMS; DEPENDENCY IN THERAPY; COMIC DEPICTION OF THERAPY PROBLEMS. Bill Murray is Bob Wiley, the psychiatric patient from Hell, who manipulates and ingratiates with everyone, even fakes suicide, in order to tag along on the family summer vacation of his new therapist, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss). The humor is in the escalating battle between Murray and Dreyfuss, as each struggles to outwit, if not damage, the other. This is in essence a reprise of Dreyfuss' role in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, where his nemesis was Nick Nolte, portraying a manipulative sociopath. In both films Dreyfuss does pompous indignant rage with great skill - it'sperhaps hisonlypersonaas a comedicactor. One (professionally) unconvincing aspect of this film is that the patient (Murray) has had only one brief visit with the therapist before the vacation occurs. Ordinarily, patients with severe personality disorders - the ones most likely to use any means to violate boundaries between patient and therapist - conduct themselves in this manner only after forming strong attachments to their therapists as a function of repeated contacts over time.
The more serious problem with the film is that Murray has all the charm of a water buffalo caught in a drought. To manipulate people as adroitly as this screenplay allows Murray to do requires the guile of a Nick Nolte, the seductiveness of a Johnny Depp (the patient in Don Juan DeMarco), or the raw authority of a Robert DeNiro (the patient in Analyze This). Murray has none of these qualities here. One keeps wondering how anyone could possibly tolerate him. Murray himself often seems incredulous, as if he's also thinking that he's getting away withfar too much. It's no wonder when Dr. Marvin really goes bonkers - he's the only one with any sense of reality in this group. Still, there are enough honestly wrought laughs along the way to (barely) save this movie from the scrap heap of failed comedy. Grade: B-
What About Bob: A Psychological AnalysisAgoraphobiaBob shows many signs of agoraphobia, like not wanting to leave his apartment, telling Dr. Marvin that he fears his heart will stop or he will not be able to find a bathroom. He also avoids getting on the elevator and is reluctant ot get on the bus to go visit Dr. Marvin.OCDBob shows a few symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder during the beginning of the film. The opening scene shows Bob sitting in apartment saying "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful" to himself over and over again. He repeats this to himself whenever he is nervous or in a new situation. He also uses tissues to touch anything outside of his apartment that may have germs from other people on it. Dependent PersonalityDisorderWhen Dr. Marvin is first contacted about Bob, Bob's former therapist seems to be rushing to get out of town, assumed to be getting away from Bob himself. After a single session with Dr. Marvin, Bob calls him, day or night, begging for his help and assistance. When he learns that the doctor is on vacation and can no longer be contacted, he goes so far as pretending to be Dr. Marvin's sister, calling with an emergency, as well as faking his own suicide, which finally gets him the address. Bob then follows the family, begins participating in all of their vacation activities instead of planning his own, eats dinner with them, takes part in Dr. Marvin' s interview with Good Morning America, and even stays with the Marvins. He is dependent on the doctor for everything from psychiatric aid to everyday decisions. Plot SummaryWhat About Bob?portrays realistic psychological issues a from comedic perspective through the characters Bob Wiley and his therapist Dr. Leo Marvin. After having just one session with Dr. Marvin (Dreyfuss), Bob (Murray) thinks the world of him. Shortly after their first session, however, the doctor leaves to spend the rest of the summer with his family, which throws Bob into utter despair. Bob uses many tactics to find out where the doctor is and visits him. The doctor's family begins to like Bob but Dr. Marvin himself sees Bob as a nuisance. No matter what he does and how many times he asks, Bob just won't go away. The rest of the Marvin family thinks Leo is being rude and too harsh on Bob, which pushes him to the point of trying to kill Bob in the woods. Dr. Marvin's plan backfires, however, and Bob ends up blowing up the Marvin household instead, sending the doctor into shock. Bob goes on to earn his degree in psychiatry and Dr. Marvin becomes a psychiatric patient. Legit or Nah?Bob's agoraphobia is stated as "classic". In the DSM-IV, agoraphobia is defined as "anxiety about, or avoidance of places or situations from which escape might be difficult or help may not be available." The depiction is accurate in the movie because he chooses to work from his apartment has difficulty leaving home, gets scared in elevators, and he confides in Dr. Marvin that he thinks "public places are impossible". The problem in the portrayal of this disorder is how it is cured. We learn that Bob has been in therapy for years, and by that point should have made some progress, since phobias are relatively easy to cure or at least help. Suddently, without any real help from Dr. Marvin, Bob's symptoms seem to disappear after meeting him. Legit or Nah?The portrayal of his dependance is mostly accurate, with a few minor flaws. While his lack of self confidence and decision making skills are depicted perfectly, as well as his need for almost constant contact with the doctor, he is not imperatively concerned with the Dr. Marvin's happiness. It is clear that the doctor is unhappy when Bob stays with his family, and people with dependent personality disorder always put the needs and happiness of those they are dependent on over their own. Also, as with the other disorders in this film, the disorder seems to miraculously go away as time goes on, which does not happen in a typical case.Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss)Legit or Nah?Although these are the only two symptoms of OCD that he shows, they are legitimate. The compulsion of talking himself into everything he does paired with the obsession with germs makes it clear that he does have obsessive-compulsive disorder, however similar to the portrayal of agoraphobia, the symptoms "magically" disappear by the end of the film, with no help from the doctor.ConclusionOverall, this film did a really good job of depicting many symptoms and effects of each of these disorders, with the main error being in the lack of treatment and sudden relief of all symptoms. If this film was meant to be a teaching tool for psychological disorders, it would probably only get one or two stars from us, however it is meant to be a comedy and the disorders that Bob has are purely for comical effect, not educational. Not a bad job for a funny movie.Relation to PsychologyBob suffers from several psychological disorders, such as agoraphobia, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder throughout the film. Therapy session sceneAnalysis of What About Bob What About Bob is a comedy film that is not only enjoyable to watch, but also provides some perfect examples of psychological disorders characterized through the star, Bob Wiley. While being somewhat ridiculous and exaggerated, this film is also able to convey the reality of these disorders and the often extreme affects that they are associated with. While there are many other characters that could be assessed and diagnosed with some condition, the most pertinent character in regards to this study is Bob Wiley and due to the fact that he portrays so many different disorders, I will focus solely on his interesting and outrageous character.
Based on the relationship between a therapist and his bizarre patient, this film conveys realistic issues through a comedic perspective. The movie begins by established Dr. Leo Marvin as a successful, composed, professional therapist that is at the top of his game and feels ready to take on any patient. What he does not know is, that his next client, while drive him to the brink of insanity. Dr. Marvin is introduced to Bob Wiley, a man of many disorders, from a friend and suggested to take him on as his new patient. Marvin quickly realizes, however, that Bob has immense dependency issues which eventually lead to deathly tensions between the two. Bob instantly becomes attached to Marvin and goes to extreme measures to be near him. Along with many other issues, Bob has a fear of germs, fear of elevators, and fear of sleeping unless pointed in the proper direction according to a compass along with more serious issues such as anxiety disorders and specific phobias. The epitome of Bobs attachment is demonstrated when he goes so far as to find the address of Marvins vacation spot and consequently follow him there and proceed to make his life miserable. He accomplishes this by not only sticking to him like glue, but by winning the affections of Marvins family. The movie continues to progress as Marvin continues to rise in his insanity levels, causing him attempt to kill Bob who is of course ignorant to his plans. At the conclusion of the movie, Marvin somewhat returns to his normal self, however, Bob forever maintains his perpetually annoying characteristics and disorders.
While there are many characters that could be psychologically analyzed, Bob Wiley is the one that will be given all of the attention for his disorders are numerous and fascinating. According to Dr. Marvin, Bob has a multi-phobic personality characterized by acute separation anxiety. To begin with, Bob is faced with ongoing anxiety issues throughout the movie. According to Myers, generalized anxiety disorder is when a person is continually tense, apprehensive, and in a state of autonomic nervous system arousal, which perfectly describes Bobs