MEDIA REVIEW 7
Media review: “A beautiful mind” the history of John Nash
The film “A beautiful mind” was released in 2001. Itcharacterized the story of an intelligent mathematician, his lifestory and love relationship with his wife. The mathematician, JohnForbes Nash, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. The film beginswith Nash starting his career at Princeton University, shortly afterhe had graduated. All his peers recognize his unmatched mathematicalability and sharp intelligence (Howard, 2001). However, he is anarrogant individual and has an awkward social life. He spends most ofhis time in his office trying to discover a revolutionary equation inmathematics, which deals with probability and odds. Concurrently, hehas an outside life as a paranoid target for some individuals dressedin red. However, halfway through the film, it is discovered that mostof the things that happen are only illusions created by his mind. Itis at this point that the audience realize that Nash is sufferingfrom paranoid schizophrenia. The discourse looks at the film from apsychoanalytical point of view.
The directors build the main character’s psychological condition ina progressive manner. At the beginning of the film, Nash isintroduced as a bright mathematical student who is admired by hispeers for his intelligence and mathematical ability (Howard, 2001).However, little is known about his psychological condition. He beganshowing signs of paranoia, which were first observed by his wife, whodescribed his behavior as erratic. He was at a moment in the filmbelieving that some men dressed in red were communist operatives whowanted to form their own government. This prompted him to writenumerous letters to Washington D.C trying to inform the authoritiesabout these people. His colleagues came to learn of his conditionwhen he was giving a lecture about Riemann Hypothesis at PrincetonUniversity (Howard, 2001). During his lecture, his colleaguesrealized that he was incomprehensible. This triggered a series ofinterventions that saw him being admitted to mental hospitals, wherehe began receiving his treatment.
Nash’s condition, schizophrenia, has been defined a split mind bypsychologists. This however does not refer to a multiple personality,rather splitting from reality, which is manifested by disorganizedcognition, interrupted perceptions and unexplained actions (Stefansonet al., 2009). There are a number of types of schizophrenia. Theseare the paranoid type, disorganized type and catatonic type. JohnNash suffers from the paranoid type. He experienced a number ofsevere delusions and hallucinations. These were the key factors forhis mental illness’ diagnosis. According to Frith (2014), paranoidschizophrenia occurs when an individual is preoccupied with delusionsand hallucinations. These may be accompanied with cases ofgrandiosity to persecutions.
Schizophrenia affects patients with positive of negative symptoms.According to Frith (2014), the positive symptoms include delusionsand hallucinations. These may be accompanied with speech which isincoherent or incomprehensible, and continuous laughter. On the otherhand, patients who have schizophrenia with negative symptoms areoften quite, non-active and show little or no expressions of theirfaces. Most of the inappropriatebehavior is due to positive symptomsof the mental illness, while the negative symptoms account for lackof inappropriate behavior (Stefanson et al., 2009). In the case ofNash, he was suffering from schizophrenia with positive symptoms.This is because he had severe hallucinations, whereby he believedthat there were some people dressed in red hunting him. Additionally,he had a disorganized speech. During his lecture, he was soincomprehensible that his colleagues came to learn of his condition.
Medical research has not yet come up with a clear explanation forthe condition. However, there has been a demonstration that peoplewith the condition have a quite different brain structure than thenormal people. Additionally, as it has been agreed upon by scientiststhat the mind is the behavioral manifestation of the brain activity,it has raised concerns as to whether there is a difference in brainstructures that is responsible for the illness. According to Frith(2014),the brains of the patients with this condition are quite smalland have enlarged ventricles. The frontal lobes, which areresponsible for executive functioning and scheduling, the temporallobes, used for speech and hearing, and the hippocampus, responsiblefor memory, have signs of malfunctioning. Just as a number of othermedical conditions, Schizophrenia is caused by a number of problemssuch as genetic disorder and other environmental causes. According toa research that was conducted about the disease, there are certaingenes, which are responsible for the abnormal brain development,leading to the illness (Bora, Yucel & Pantelis, 2009). However,it has further been established that these genes do not directlycause the illness, rather increase the percentage for itsdevelopment.
There are a number of treatments which Nash was put under. Accordingto Dr. Rosen, the family physician, the therapy had to take the scopeof medical treatment and family support. He was given a course ofinsulin shock therapy to prepare him for recovery from the illusions.However, after Nash became dissatisfied with the antipsychoticmedication he was being given, and the side-effects they had on him,he eventually stopped taking them (Howard, 2001). It was after thisthat he began meeting his imaginary friends. An incident howeveroccurred that helped Nash recognize that he was indeed delusional. Atone moment, he almost injured his child by thinking that he wasprotecting him from one of his imaginary friends. During theconfrontation, he realized that Marcee, a young girl, who was acreation of his mind, did not age. It was during this that heaccepted to restart his medication, and accepting more family andfriends support.
According to Tandon, Nasrallah & Keshavan (2009), there are anumber of treatments that are available for schizophrenia. These areusually a mixture of therapies, which are often chosen with the aimof reducing the chances of the symptoms occurring over and overagain. The therapies include family education, psychologicaltreatments, self-help groups and social support. Medically, there areantipsychotic medications which have been used since the half of the20th century. The medical value of these medications isreducing the symptoms and helping the patients tofunctionefficiently. It however has to be noted that thesemedications do not cure the disease, rather reduce its symptoms. Thedosage varies with the patient, and it is all up to the psychiatriststo determine the dosage for their patients. Such drugs includerisperidone and olanzapine (Tandon, Nasrallah & Keshavan, 2009).These drugs are improved versions of the ones that were used in the1950s.
In the case of Nash, cognitive behavioral psychotherapy has beenidentified as the most efficient type of psychotherapy. This therapyis used to teach patients new and adaptive methods of thinking andacting. This is all based on the assumption that thoughts intervenebetween events and personal reaction to them (Bora, 2009). Thistherapy may be combined with cognitive therapy, hence making thepatient to act effectively and mitigate the symptoms by putting focuson other important aspects of life such as family and socialization.However, there was a different approach to treating Nash in the film.He was put into a psychiatric hospital where he was given psychoticmedications and insulin shock therapy. Regardless, the focus was onresults, which arguably, where valuable for his case.
The film has an excellent portrayal for schizophrenia. This is asmuch the same as with what literature on the illness presents.Research has demonstrated the positive and negative symptoms of theillness, which are well created in Nash’s character. Nash exhibitsthe positive symptoms, which build his delusional character. However,the methods of treatment for his illness is not the same as thatwhich literature would recommend. For instance, many scholars do notmention that insulin shock therapy is a cure for schizophrenia, whichis what Nash is put under when he is hospitalized. However, what isuniversally agreed upon, and is demonstrated in the film, is thatmedications are important for reducing the illness’ symptoms, andthat there are a number of side-effects. Generally, this film is agreat one for characterizing schizophrenia, as it covers the theme interms of the scientific and social construction of the illness. Thefilm also demonstrates the personal experiences of the patients, howthey handle their condition and how the society helps them copealong. This film is also important for purposes of research into theillness.
Bora, E., Yucel, M., &Pantelis,C. (2009). Theory of mind impairment in schizophrenia:meta-analysis. Schizophreniaresearch, 109(1),1-9.
Frith, C. D. (2014). Thecognitive neuropsychology of schizophrenia.Psychology Press.
Howard, R. (2001). A beautiful mind. U.S.A: UniversalPictures.
Stefansson, H., Ophoff, R. A.,Steinberg, S., Andreassen, O. A., Cichon, S., Rujescu, D.,& Kahn,R. S. (2009). Common variants conferring risk ofschizophrenia. Nature, 460(7256),744-747.
Tandon, R., Nasrallah, H. A.,&Keshavan, M. S. (2009). Schizophrenia,“just the facts” 4.Clinical features and conceptualization. Schizophreniaresearch,110(1),1-23.