Movie Review on Ordinary People

By | April 28, 2011

Beth does relay a few problems with her prevailing mood conditions, which according to Calvin when he arrives home after a visit to Dr Berger, had existed even at the time of her son’s death. Calvin points out how even at as serious a situation as their son’s funeral, Beth could not help but tell him what to wear so that he would not look inappropriate, at a time when Calvin was rightly feeling crazy. Buck was, according to Conrad, one of her favorite of the two sons. Moreover, Beth exhibits a cold adherence to her rules and a distinct lack of empathy for her other son, Conrad, even after he tried to kill himself.

This was very evident in the first part of the movie when he steps down from his room to be greeted by Beth who has prepared his favorite breakfast for him which he passes upon claiming he was not hungry. In response to that, Beth quickly throws the breakfast away even when Calvin protests not to. This displays a rigid pattern of behavior that is self evidently ego-centric. Moreover, in the skirmish at the golf course, Beth stipulates that she is aware of her shortcomings, which include not being able to outwardly show Conrad that she appreciates him, and that she wants to follow a strict pattern of life in her own way, looking after her own interests as well as her family’s. The restaurant scene is another example of her generic behavior where, in response to Calvin’s suggestion of seeing Dr. Berger together, she snaps and relays how she will handle things the way she wants without interference from anyone. She shows a lack of willingness to engage in family discussions regarding the same, and believes her way is the right way and is stubborn in that regard. By displaying such a strict fidelity towards her own belief system, Beth fits into the characteristics of a person suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).

OCPD is characterized by a feeling of anxiety when things are not going right, translating into anger when blame is placed on the sufferer, characteristics that Beth is seen to possess. Her perfectionist approach to things, the excessive demands that she places on her husband to follow the same way of life as they did prior to Buck’s death and even after Conrad’s suicide attempt (such as taking a vacation for Christmas as was routine for them even when Conrad had freshly started seeing a new psychiatrist), and her feeble interpersonal skills (such as not responding to Conrad’s enthusiasm about his lap times in swimming in the earlier part of the movie, and his high score in trigonometry) shows that she may correctly be diagnosed as having OCPD.

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