Monk’s Loss

Recently I was watching a show called “Monk.”  It’s one of those 2000’s USA detective shows.  The rough premise of the show is about an amazing detective (Monk) with obsessive compulsive disorder and a number of phobias.  Most of the show is him coping with his crippling disorders and the world not accommodating him.  Of course, each episode is capped off with him solving some absurd/extreme murder mystery.  The way he solves mysteries is also congruent with his disorders.  This one episode where his therapist offers him amazing medication.  This was music to Monk’s ears, because he hates his OCD and phobias.  He wants to be like everyone else in his immediate vicinity, not afraid of the world.

He ends up taking the medication in this episode.  Since this is fiction, the medication tackles all of his disorders and he immediately stops being afraid of the world, his OCD is no more, and his unspoken depression also dissipates.  The one problem is that he looses his detective skillz.  This is no surprise, even though it is never explicitly said, it is clear that his OCD and phobias are complementary with his observations at the scene of the crime.  Monk begins to hate the man he’s become, he feels like he’s lost something and he ends up throwing the meds in the trash and solving the case.  Shocking that all this happened in 40 minutes.

This one episode was able to exemplify many economic models.  The first two are loss aversion and inequality aversion.  In this example it is difficult to differentiate which is happening.  When Monk is first discontent with his current ability/disability he focuses on his disabilities.  He weighs what he has lost (or doesn’t have) more heavily than what he has.  With this mental approach he quickly hates his quirks and differences.  Once he takes the medication and what is “lost” becomes his crime fighting skillz he wants to revert to his old self.  This is an interesting paradox of loss aversion.  Even when you are able to retrieve what you have lost, the cost of retrieval becomes what is lost and you are again faced with loss aversion.

Another economic property shown is a diversity of bundles.  This might be shown throughout the whole show.  Since Monk deviates from the common person his value increases.  An abundance of Monk is not preferred, but him being common is also not preferred because the police force prefers a diversity in bundles.

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