SOC433 Sociology of Mental Health
July 12, 2020
Sociological Analysis of Mental Health: A proposal
The Aviator is a film that tells the story of a successful film director and aviation magnate by the name Howard Hughes. In addition to narrating his journey from the bottom up, it focuses on his struggles with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is a condition that sees a person held in a cycle of compulsions and obsessions. Obsessions are invasive and unwanted thoughts, visions, or urges that result in severely distressing feelings. The film takes the audience through the journey of the main character as the OCD manifests and starts to limit his life and drive him to estrangement. In essence, the film is a portrayal of the man’s decade long journey battling this condition.
Unlike most conditions, OCD does not start with parenting but the way a family reacts to a child with OCD can determine whether the child’s anxiety is increased or reduces. Other factors such as traumatic brain surgeries are associated with OCD because of brain function impairment. Severe infections such as strep throat or flu trigger OCD symptoms in children who are genetically predisposed to this condition.
Functionalism is a very effective theory in explaining or enabling an understanding of OCD. Mental states can only be interpreted by what they do but not what they are made of. Compulsions and obsessions result in visible physical behavior. For instance, in The Aviator the character Howard Hughes carries around his own soap and at one point washes his hands until they bleed. Functionalism also connects OCD with its social factors since the theory considers society a structure that is responsible for taking care of the biological and social needs of an individual. The theorists of sociologists who front this idea believe that a condition such as OCD should be approached by focuses on factors outside the individual.