In May of 1991, the year I was born, a comedy starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss was released under the name of What about Bob. Murray plays Bob Wiley, a mental patient with a laundry list of problems, who is handed off to psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin (Dreyfuss).
Then the situational irony begins. Bob quickly invades Dr. Marvin’s life with winning enthusiasm and oddball charm. In response to Bob’s takeover, Dr. Marvin loses his grip on his family, his profession, and ultimately himself. By the end of the movie, Bob becomes the successful professional, and Dr. Marvin becomes a mental hospital patient.
Lots of people think this movie is funny, including my entire family. You may be one of those who find it hilarious.
However, I hate it.
Here’s the fundamental problem: I sympathize with Dr. Marvin too closely. He’s portrayed as arrogant and controlling, but I don’t think he deserves to lose his connection with his family, his professional credibility, and his sanity just because he has a bit of an ego. In my experience, a lot of psychiatrists have swollen heads, in fact.
Living with a mental disorder, I know exactly how fragile sanity can be. Everyone has a tipping point, and all it requires is just the right touch, the right set of circumstances, the right person to come along and tip the balance. For Dr. Marvin, that tipping point was Bob.
Although it’s personally disturbing to me that Dr. Marvin crumbles from the inside, I guess I should look at the other side of the coin:
Someone as initially dysfunctional as Bob can succeed.
I guess I can learn something from him.
P.S. I you are reading this, thank you for taking the time. I would love for you to leave me a comment. If you like what you have read so far, please follow my blog for more scribbled thoughts about mental health and anything else that strikes my fancy.
That’s all for now.