A Beautiful Mind
A beautiful mind is a 2001 movie based on John Nash’s life and on the novel of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. The drama movie was directed by Ron Hoard and the screenplay written by Akiva Goldsman. John Nash was born on 13th June, 1928 and died on 23rd May 2015. He was a brilliant mathematician who made axiomatic influences to partial difference equations, game theory, as well as differential geometry. He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, the Abel Prize, and the John von Neumann Theory Prize.
The movie is about schizophrenia and how it affects how a person functions as well as the relationship with their family. Russell Crowe plays John Nash while Jennifer Connelly plays John’s wife, Alicia Larde. The family begins with Nash as he begins his profession at Princeton University as a mathematics graduate student (Thacker, 2013). He spends a lot of his time trying to discover an equation that would revolutionize mathematics. Halfway through the film, the audience that some of the places as well as conditions in the movie are just illusions in Nash’s “beautiful” mind. The essay will analyze schizophrenia in relation to the movie and John’s life.
Schizophrenia is a serious and severe mental disorder which affects how a person feels, thinks and behaves. It affects how about one percent of the population. It happens in late puberty or early adulthood, between 16 and 30. In most cases, the symptoms occur at a younger age for men than women (Parekh, 2017). It requires lifelong treatment and is only diagnosed after other illnesses have been ruled out. It is unusual for people to get schizophrenia after the age of 45 or below the age of 12. Schizophrenia is considered a group of disorders where the symptoms and causes alter between individuals.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Some patients suffering from schizophrenia may exhibit clear symptoms while others seem fine until they talk about what they are really thinking. The signs and symptoms of this condition vary depending on the individual (Tandon, 2013). For instance, John Nash experiences illusions in his mind and develops characters and events that only occur in his mind although he thinks they are real. The symptoms of schizophrenia can be classified as positive, negative, cognitive or emotional symptoms.
Positive symptoms are also called psychotic symptoms and include hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations usually include seeing or hearing non-existent things. For the person suffering from schizophrenia, these hallucinations occur in full force and seem like a normal experience (Parekh, 2017). Negative symptoms refer to the lack of ability or reduced the ability to function in a normal way such as a lack of motivation or lack of emotions. Cognitive symptoms affect the thought process and can either be positive or negative symptoms. Emotional signs are commonly negative symptoms for instance a lack of facial expressions.
The major symptoms are delusions, hallucinations especially seeing things and thought disorder. Others include cognitive difficulties, social withdrawal because they believe someone is trying to harm them, lack of motivation, and poor expression of emotions as well as unawareness of illness. John Nash experienced hallucinations. One of the foremost imaginary characters that he developed was Charles Herman, who he imagined to be his roommate and a student of English Literature.
John Nash was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia now referred to as schizophrenia with paranoia by doctors is the most common example of this illness (Goldberg, 2017). Symptoms include delusions of persecution which mirror fathomless fear and anxiety and the inability to differentiate illusions from reality. Common examples include fear that a spouse is being unfaithful, a colleague is bent on trying to hurt you or that the government is spying on you. This can result in strained relationships with family and coworkers. John Nash was unable to tell his reality and a delusion apart and hence was misled. He was also anxious about the pain his friends and wife were going through because of his mental illness.
Additionally, John believes that he has been invited to the Pentagon to decode important US national security information. While there, he meets William Parcher, an agent in the Department of Defense who hires him to help fight against Cold War enemies. He is tasked with finding the code used by Russians in American newspapers in order to find where the bomb was located. Although Nash finds awareness of his prowess in serving his fellow citizens, the frightening delusion he experiences threatens it all. He devotes his life to a job which is only a creation of his mind.
Alicia watches her husband withdraw himself from the real world as he works with Agent Parcher. It becomes clear that Nash requires psychiatric care and he becomes even more withdrawn after being institutionalized, spending his time in his house and depending primarily on his wife to take care of him (Thacker, 2013). Alicia is strained as she has to take care of her husband and their newborn son. This depicts the struggle that this illness puts on the family and loved ones of the patient. Nash realizes that the medication he is taking alters his thinking abilities and he, therefore, stops taking it secretly.
Treatment for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia necessitates lasting treatment even if signs have lessened. Medicines are usually administered together with psychosocial therapy although hospitalization may be required in some cases. Antipsychotic medications are commonly prescribed and are believed towards controlling signs by affecting the mind neurotransmitter dopamine. The aim of the treatment is to manage the signs and symptoms using the least doses possible. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can also be used in the treatment. John Nash is treated using antipsychotic medication.
He experiences side effects such as sedation and sexual dysfunction. He is unable to think clearly or develop new areas of research hence decides to stop taking his medication. The serious side effects caused by the schizophrenia medication results in reluctance in taking the medication. As a result, the choice of drugs is affected and some patients may be put on injections instead of pills. The second-generation antipsychotic medications are preferred as they have lower risks of serious side effects. Therapy for individuals is believed to help normalize how they think. It can also help them to deal with stress and identify symptoms of relapse in order to help manage the illness. In severe cases, hospitalization or electroconvulsive therapy may be useful.
The movie “A Beautiful Mind” brings to mind the need for self-awareness by normal people. It demonstrates the stress that people who suffer from schizophrenia as well as their loved ones go through. It follows the journey of John Nash as he takes his medication to suppress the symptoms of his condition. It is a journey from sanity to insanity and back to sanity culminating in the winning of the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
- Goldberg, J. (2017). What is Paranoid Schizophrenia? Retrieved from WebMD: www.webmd.com
- Parekh, R. (2017). What is Schizophrenia? Retrieved from: www.psychiatry.org
- Tandon, R. et al. (2013). Definition and description of schizophrenia in the DSM-5. Schizophrenia Research, 150(1), 3-10.
- Thacker, M and Hughes, C. (2013). Movie Review: A Beautiful Mind. Mental Health Clinician, 2(8), 246-247.