A Beautiful Mind
The movie “A Beautiful Mind” directed by Ron Howard is based on the real story of mathematician John F. Nash Jr., played by Russell Crow. John Nash was a gifted young man from West Virginia that, while studying in Princeton, created his “game theory” also knows as “Nash equilibrium”, which was the break through in modern economics, and for which he got the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics later on in his life.
Also except his extraordinary mind John Nash had a psychological disorder – Schizophrenia. “Schizophrenia is a group of disorders characterized by severely impaired cognitive processes, personality disintegration, affective disturbances, and social withdrawal.”# Schizophrenia is the disease of the brain itself which interferes with function of the brain, which can trigger symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, thought, movement and speech disorganization, inappropriate affect, which are called positive symptoms. There are also negative symptoms that include flat affect, alogia, and avolition. (Understanding Abnormal Behavior, p. 419-427) There are different types of Schizophrenia: paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, residual, and undifferentiated. Paranoid Schizophrenia is the one that John Nash was diagnosed with. This type of Schizophrenia includes hallucinations and delusions that generally have the same theme, but this Schizophrenia has no symptoms like: speech or movement disorganization. (Understanding Abnormal Behavior, p. 429-431) Schizophrenia also has three phases, which we can see in the movie. First phase is Prodromal phase, which is the onset of the symptoms, but symptoms aren’t prominent. Second phase is Active phase, which shows development of full schizophrenic symptoms that start appearing after some stressor or demand. For example, in the movie when John Nash had met a demand of finding a thesis, while he was in Princeton, for his paper he started seeing his first hallucination, in form of his imaginary roommate and best friend Charles Herman. And third phase is Residual phase, in this phase the positive symptoms disappear after medication therapy, but some of the negative symptoms still left, like flat affect, alogia or avolition. In the movie we can see this phase when John Nash is taking his medications. The delusions and hallucination have disappeared but he shows symptoms of flat affect and avolition, which is helplessness in taking any action or to get oriented by something. (Understanding Abnormal Behavior, p. 433) According to DSM – 4, diagnostic criteria for Schizophrenia in general is the appearing of two or more symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, for significant portion of time during 1-month period. Also one or more major areas of functioning such as work, interpersonal relationships or self-care are below the level achieved prior to onset of symptoms. Another criterion for diagnosis is duration. The signs of disturbances persist for at least 6 months. And within these six month there has to be at least 1 month of symptoms. The DSM – 4 excludes the disorders that are similar to Schizophrenia, such as Schizoaffective and Mood disorder, because even though they are similar there are key symptoms that differentiate these disorders. It also excludes symptoms that are similar to Schizophrenia, but are induced by medication. (DSM-4, p. 285-286) The diagnostic criteria for the specific type of Schizophrenia, the Paranoid Schizophrenia, are preoccupation with one or more delusions or/and frequent auditory hallucinations. But there are no symptoms that include the disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, or flat or inappropriate affect. (DSM-4, p. 287) The movie doesn’t portray the cause of Nash’s Schizophrenia, probably because the real cause of this disorder hasn’t been discovered yet. But still there are a lot of different theories about how Schizophrenia develops. One of the...
Cited: Sue, D. Sue, D. Sue, S. (2006). Understanding Abnormal Behavior. Houghton Mifflin Company: New York, Boston.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). DSM – IV. Washington, DC.
Sabbatini, R. The History of Shock Therapy in Psychiatry. Brain and Mind 01/30/08. http://www.cerebromente.org.br/n04/historia/shock_i.htm
A Beautiful Mind. Directed by Ron Howard. Universal Pictures. 2001
John F. Nash Jr. “Autobiography”. Nobel Prize. 1995. The Nobel Foundation. < http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1994/nash-autobio.html>
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