DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Darius Muniz

Professor Garrido

Psychology 31   8074

March  5th , 2010



                                                                 My Well Being


            Personality and behavior patterns are crucial in determining the correlation between the level of stress an individual experiences and its behavior. An individual’s  traits in personality, including likes, dislikes, preferences, bias’s, and such, will determine the individuals behavior patterns and hence determine the individuals level of stress as a direct reaction to these behaviors. As each human being is unique in their own ways of thinking and experience different realities due to environment, each person’s ability to cope with stress will greatly vary as each individual applies their own coping techniques and defense mechanisms to deal with any stressful situations. Stress is a major cause of psychological and physical illness and having effective coping techniques can be crucial in determining the overall longevity and quality of an individual’s life.

            After taking the Life Orientation Test or (LOT-R), which is an evaluation of an individual’s optimism or outlook towards their life, I have determined with a score of 18 on a scale of 0-24 that I am apparently pretty optimistic towards life. I would agree that my personality has a dramatic effect on the way I view life and also on the motivation and direction in which my life leads. I would contribute my unique personality to the life experiences I have learned from and endured and also the influences of individuals I have encountered throughout my life span to date. Since I have had no real sense of family and family influences have been sporadic at best, my greatest teacher has been trial and error and this type of learning has bestowed upon me the confidence of life experience.

            The negative sides of learning through trial and error are all the mistakes and uneducated decisions that are made while determining right from wrong. This led to many unhealthy behaviors which in turn elevated the amount and frequency of stress I experienced while living in this frame of mind. Due to my hardships and lack of family support systems, I developed an “I don’t care attitude” which shaped most of my thoughts and dictated my ensuing behaviors. With a lack of fundamental sense of self worth and with no guidance from someone more experienced, I thought that my ways of thinking at the time were correct in all fashions and hence I had no reservation in following them as gospel.

Through trial and error and self monitoring, not to mention all the negative consequences of certain behaviors, I have learned from my mistakes and have altered my views and ways of thinking to compensate for the self defeating behaviors that I have found to be unsuccessful and harmful to my survival. As I grow older and accumulate knowledge through life experiences, I weed out if you will all the undesirable traits of my personality which have proven destructive and replaced them with more desirable and successful traits that allow me to maneuver through life with less stress and more positive accomplishment. I view this process as a healthy way to mature and hence adapt to the environment in which I live to become a more productive and successful member of society.

After taking the College Student Stress Scale, which is an evaluation to determine a college student’s vulnerability to stressors, I have determined with a score of 971that I have a relatively low vulnerability to stressors. I can contribute my resilience to my personality and the way I view the world. Since I have known hardship in many degrees, it has allowed me to better cope with situations that would otherwise cause stress to a less experienced person due to their fears of the unknown. I pride myself on the level of understanding that has been awakened and instilled in me as a derivative of experience gained through my life. I also believe that as a human being it is my responsibility to achieve my greatest potential possible and to constantly evolve myself until self actualization is acquired.

Like any other individual stress is a constant factor in our everyday lives and plays a major role in our psychological well being. I would consider the amount of stressors in my current life to be pretty high and would consider my way of dealing with these constant stressors as pretty effective. Though much of my life is not the way I would like it to be and it seems at times that it’s every man for him or herself, I have developed a sense of autonomy in thinking which allows me to rise above emotions dictating how I interact with people and situations. Using a clear head free from emotion driven actions has allowed me to be both sympathetic and empathetic to other people’s views and emotions and helps to create a situation or environment in which stress can be avoided by careful thought and ensuing action.

I have learned through experience that situations can easily cause stress and if dealt with badly and if prolonged, can lead to both depression and correlating behaviors which can cause physical health issues. It is my responsibility through patterns of thought and behavior to create an environment in which stress can be kept at minimal levels and to apply coping skills to this effect to allow for a more prolonged and healthy life.

Stress can definitely contribute to the way you treat other individuals’ especially family members and loved ones you encounter on a daily basis. If for instance I were under a lot of stress and this in turn made me bitter and hostile due to a lack of successful coping skills. I would be at greater risk of letting these negative emotions project onto the way I interact with other people. This behavior would cause friction and general hostility which in turn would cause all parties involved unnecessary and unwanted stress. These factors would cause a strain on these relationships and possibly later cause the deterioration of otherwise loving and healthy family ties. This might cause isolation for the individual with poor coping skills and also lead to a feeling of rejection and depression which in turn would lead to more hostility and further unsuccessful creation of lasting and meaningful relationships.

These are the main realizations that have caused me to change and adapt my personality to better deal with the people and situations that arise and surround me on a daily basis. I have learned that having an opened mind and being receptive and aware of other peoples wants, needs, and ways of thinking can better equip me with the ever changing and person specific arsenal that is needed to successfully maneuver through the sometimes very messy and illogical ways people tend to interact with each other. Communication techniques are a very important way to reduce stress and allow for a greater chance of successful and productive creation and maintenance of interpersonal relationships.

Though I am not perfect and still have a lot of learning and growing to do as a person, I can nevertheless always find ways in which to better understand the people and world that I live in. people react to your personality and hence it is clear that determinant on how I shape my personality and how I behave due to this fact will ultimately determine the type of reaction and interaction I will receive in turn from other individuals. It seems that each individual is somehow or another responsible for how other people view and hence interact with them and finding a balance or equilibrium with the people and environment around you is crucial for developing healthy relationships and a general sense of physical and psychological well being.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.


                     Running Head: Matchstick Men





                                  Matchstick Men: An Obsessive Compulsive

                                                     Disorder Analysis

                                                        Darius Muniz

                                           Psychology 31, Section 8074







Darius Muniz

Professor Garrido

Psychology 31  8074

May 24, 2010


                                   Film Analysis for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder     


            Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder of the brain and affects an individual’s behavior.  OCD causes severe anxiety in those affected and involves both obsessions and compulsions that are very time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values. OCD can start at any time from preschool to adulthood and although OCD does occur at earlier ages, there are generally two age ranges when OCD first appears. This onset usually occurs between ages ten and twelve and between the late teens and early adulthood.

            To date it is still not known the exact cause or causes of OCD, but research into the disorder suggests that differences in the brain and genes of those affected may play a role (http://www.ocfoundation.org). Research suggests that OCD involves problems in communication between the front part of the brain and deeper structures. These brain structures use a chemical messenger called serotonin (http://www.ocfoundation.org). Pictures of the brain at work also show that in some people, the brain circuits involved in OCD become more normal with either serotonin medicines or cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) http://www.ocfoundation.org). Research shows that OCD does run in families and that genes likely play a role in the development of the disorder. Genes appear to be only partly responsible for causing the disorder though. No one really knows what other factors might be involved, perhaps an illness or even ordinary life stresses that may induce the activity of genes associated with the symptoms of OCD (http://www.ocfoundation.org). Some experts think that OCD that begins in childhood may be different from the OCD that begins in adults. For example, a recent review of twin studies1 has shown that genes play a larger role when OCD starts in childhood (45-65%) compared to when it starts in adulthood (27-47%) (http://www.ocfoundation.org).

                        DSM IV Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Criteria

A. Either obsessions or compulsions:

Obsessions as defined by (1), (2), (3), and (4):

(1) recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress

(2) the thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems

(3) the person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action

(4) the person recognizes that the obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind (not imposed from without as in thought insertion)

Compulsions as defined by (1) and (2):

(1) repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly

(2) the behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts either are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent or are clearly excessive

B. At some point during the course of the disorder, the person has recognized that the obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable. Note: This does not apply to children.

C. The obsessions or compulsions cause marked distress, are time consuming (take more than 1 hour a day), or significantly interfere with the person’s normal routine, occupational (or academic) functioning, or usual social activities or relationships.

D. I another Axis I disorder is present, the content of the obsessions or compulsions is not restricted to it (e.g., preoccupation with food in the presence of an Eating Disorder; hair pulling in the presence of Trichotillomania; concern with appearance in the presence of Body Dysmorphic Disorder; preoccupation with drugs in the presence of a Substance Use Disorder; preoccupation with having a serious illness in the presence of Hypochondriasis; preoccupation with sexual urges or fantasies in the presence of a Paraphilia; or guilty ruminations in the presence of Major Depressive Disorder).

E. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (DSM-IV-TR, 2000).

            The film Matchstick Men was my choice for a Hollywood motion picture that displayed a psychological disorder. This film was directed by Ridley Scott and was released in 2003 in theatres across the United States. I have chosen this movie due to its in my opinion, extremely accurate portrayal of both agoraphobia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. I will be following the character of Roy Waller and his battle to live with both agoraphobia and OCD disorder. Roy Waller is a con artist residing in Los AngelesCalifornia. Alongside his partner and protégé Frank Mercer, Roy operates a fake lottery, selling overpriced water filtration systems to unsuspecting customers; in the process, Roy due to these cons has collected over one million dollars.

             Roy displays behaviors from several different mental disorders including agoraphobiamysophobiaobsessive-compulsive disorder and a tic disorder with features that manifests as yelling, "Pygmies" whenever something surprises or upsets him. After Roy experiences a violent panic attack onset from triggers of his obsessions which are open doors, dirt, or anything that counteracts his compulsion of complete cleanliness, frank suggests he see a psychiatrist, Dr. Harris Klein (Matchstick Men, 2003).

            Dr. Klein provides Roy with fake medication, and in therapy has Roy recall his past relationship with his ex-wife, Heather, who was pregnant during the time of the divorce. The story then goes on to take numerous twists and turns that further aggravate Roy’s symptoms. There was one scene that displayed Roy’s agoraphobia traits extremely well, when he was waiting for his daughter, from the safety of his car, Roy started to experience dizziness and a sense of floating and disorientation. Along with these symptoms, Roy displays tics and distortions of his facial features that increase as his level of anxiety increases in anticipation of meeting his daughter for the first time.

            A scene that displayed the compulsion aspect of Roy’s OCD disorder was well represented when after his mild panic attack Roy returned home, opening and closing the front door three times, which he does whenever anyone enters or leaves the premises, then continues to clean every inch of his house and belongings. It seems that Roy after experiencing triggers from his agoraphobia develops tics that further lead to his mild panic attacks. To alleviate his symptoms from the initial disorder and the horrifying experience associated with panic attacks, Roy falls into the behaviors of obsession and compulsion that define his OCD and help him come to a more controlled and peaceful state due to utilizing them. So Roy is diversely affected by one disorder which is counteracted by another and further causes disruption to his life leading Roy down a path of mental and emotional anguish.

            In my opinion Hollywood’s portrayal of mental disorders and their defining features are as accurate as diagnosing a patient yourself. Matchstick Men accurately displayed the frustrations and odd behaviors associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the harmful affects of a panic attack onset by fears associated with agoraphobia. As Hollywood continues to want to give a more lifelike feel to their motion pictures and characters within, it is apparent that both the studio and characters themselves do extensive research into the features and symptoms that correspond to these disorders. Just from watching these films the audience can get an authentic look into the minds of individuals that have these life altering disorders and can witness the seriousness these disorders merit.




American Psychiatric Association. (2000). DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of      Mental Disorders  (4th ed.,  text  revision). Washington, DC: Author.


International OCD Foundation. (2010). Retrieved May 25th, 2010, from     http://www.ocfoundation.org


Nevid, J. S., Rathus, S. A., & Greene, B. (2008). Abnormal psychology in a changing world.         New Jersey: Pearson.


Scott, R. (Director). (2003). Matchstick Men [DVD]. United States: Warner Brothers.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.