The film “A BeautifulMind” depicts the life of Nobel Prize winner John Nash. It takes us on ajourney that begins with him at Princeton University studying mathematics andtrying to come up with an original idea for publication. At PrincetonUniversity we then meet his roommate and best friend, Charles Herman, who seemsto be the only person that understands and puts up with him. After universityhe begins to work at MIT and years later gets invited to the Pentagon todecipher telecommunication codes.
While working at MIT, we meet William Parcherfrom the United States Department of Defense, who offers him a new exciting,secretive assignment. John Nash begins to work secretively as spy to helpagainst Russian spies. Around that time, he also begins to date and eventuallygets married to a student of his from MIT.
As the years go on he continues towork for Parcher but when finding out that he and his wife are expecting heasks to leave. However, after being blackmailed by Parcher, he begins fearingfor his life and that of his family. John eventually gets sedated and put in apsychiatric center after giving a lecture at Harvard University. Thepsychiatrist, Dr. Rosen, tries to help him understand that what he thinks isreal wasn’t.
That the people we have all come to know are actually part of hisdelusions and hallucinations. He gets diagnosed with schizophrenia and aftergetting treatment is able to leave as long as he stays medicated. The rest ofthe film shows the struggle with him taking medication, the stigma behindhaving this disorder, how it impacted his family, friends, work options. Heeventually stops taking the medication and works at living with schizophreniaand trying to regain a sense of normality. The DSM 5 criteria for schizophrenia is shownbelow: Two or more of the following symptoms for at least 1 month; one symptom should be either 1, 2, or 3:(1) delusions(2) hallucinations(3) disorganized speech(4) disorganized(catatonic) behavior(5) negative symptoms(diminished motivation or emotional expression)Functioning in work, relationships, or self-care has declined since onsetSigns of disorder for at least 6 months; if during a prodromal or residual phase, negative symptoms or two or more of symptoms 1-4 in less severe form And this categorical DSM5 diagnostic system is helpful in understanding John Nash’s personality andmain difficulties.
Categorical classification does not show or consider theconnection and continuance between the normal and abnormal behavior. Therefore,basically asking “Does the patient have schizophrenia or not?” This systemforces clinicians to define one threshold as “diagnosable.” And that definedthreshold for treatment offers a way for health care providers to feel morecertain about when to offer treatment or at what point that treatment isadvised. So, although the cutoffs are somewhat arbitrary, they do provideuseful guidance.
The cutoffs also allow for the clinicians to differentiateschizophrenia from other psychotic disorders such as Schizophreniform Disorder,Brief Psychotic Disorder, and Schizoaffective Disorder. Watching the filmincreased my understanding of John Nash’s personality. He was shown in the filmas socially awkward, not having many people he considered as friends, and notvery expressive emotion wise. Which is now recognized as some of the negativesymptom of schizophrenia; being asociality and having a blunted affect.
Furthermore, he was portrayed as having positive symptoms such as delusions andhallucinations. For example, later during the film we find out that his bestfriend Charles, who is there when he needs support and advice, and hissupervisor, William Parcher for whom he works under as a secret spy for theUnited States, are found out to be all part of his grandiose delusions andhallucinations. IN addition, the film showed how the disorder disrupted hisinterpersonal relationships and diminished his capacity to work or liveindependently. John was let go of his former job position after beingdiagnosed, his family had to move to another location, and basicallyrestructure their life around. His wife was not comfortable leaving his childalone with him and could be seen at time struggling with the idea of this newperson he had become. While watching the film,it made me realize how devastating having schizophrenia could be. John Nash wasonce a MIT professor, consultant to the pentagon and after getting diagnosed,it took a very long time before he could be able to work as a professor atPrinceton.
Schizophrenia also changed the whole dynamic in his family andpersonal relationships. To find out that the core people were not real, theimportant and special memories that you shared were all lies, and that peoplefelt you were crazy and treated you differently would be really hard on anyone.But I can only imagine what it felt like for someone who was a genius anddeveloped the concept of governing dynamics to feel incapacitated and helpless.
In that moment it must have been very hard, demeaning, embarrassing andfrustrating. However, to be able to refuse medication and keep trying to beator live with the disorder took strong will and having an amazing support system.I felt very inspired viewing his strength, dedication, and progress.