John Nash is the protagonist in the movie, A Beautiful Mind. In the film, Nash is a male character of an unknown age. He is a graduate mathematician from the Princeton University. Throughout the movie, he works for different institutions including the MIT, Princeton University, and the Pentagon.
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John Nash suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. According to Munro (2006), paranoid schizophrenia “is a subtype of schizophrenia in which the patient has delusions (false beliefs) that a person or some individuals are plotting against them or members of their family” (77). John Nash fits this description. First, he believes that someone has been following him as he makes his way to a mailbox. In another instance at the Harvard University where he is delivering a key speech, he is forced to leave hastily after allegedly seeing some familiar USSR operatives in the crowd (Capps, 2003). Additionally, the majority of the characters that Nash interacts with throughout the movie are creations of his mind.
His roomie, Charles, does not exist in reality, but only in Nash’s troubled mind. In addition, people suffering from paranoid schizophrenia are introverts in most cases, and thus they do not fit in the conventional social framework. From the beginning, Nash lives in seclusion as a student at Princeton University. As a lecturer at MIT, he cannot relate to have been found in the students, and thus he quits his job based on the allegation that the learners are boring. Moreover, his marriage breaks up due to his inability to socialize with his wife, Alicia.
According to Hengeson (2012), some health conditions are common amongst individuals of one gender. However, Versola-Russo (2006) posits that no gender “differences have been found in the prevalence of schizophrenia in epidemiological studies; however, it seems that onset is earlier in men as compared to women” (p. 84). Therefore, it suffices to conclude that there is no difference in the prevalence of the condition between males and females.
The movie did a good job of depicting the disorder in John Nash. The character shows all the major symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. According to Frith and Johnstone (2003), the key characteristics of this disorder include “emotional disconnectedness, severe anxiety, argumentative behavior, violent tendencies, and delusions of grandeur” (p. 103). In the movie, Nash highlights most of these symptoms. For instance, at the Harvard University, he turns violent and punches Dr. Rosen in the face as he tries to flee from imaginary USSR operatives.
He also argues a lot with his wife. He portrays delusions of grandeur by imagining that he has been hired by the Department of Defense to decrypt communication codes used by the USSR spies. He also imagines that he is very important to the level of stopping a nuclear bomb. Therefore, based on these findings, it suffices to conclude that the movies did exceptional work in presenting the disorder.
Movies can negatively affect the people’s feelings about psychological disorders. For instance, the movie, A Beautiful Mind, portrays John Nash as an extremely dangerous and antisocial person. Based on the depiction of John Nash in the movie, most viewers will conclude that he is a crazy person or a mad man. Such perceptions are damaging, and viewers end up getting the wrong picture of such conditions. Unfortunately, a study by Orchowski, Spickard, and McNamara (2006) indicated that most people learn of psychological disorders from movies. Therefore, it suffices to conclude that most people have the wrong feelings about psychological disorders.
Capps, D. (2003). John Nash’s predelusional phase: A case of acute identity confusion. Pastoral Psychology, 51(5), 361-386.
Frith, C., & Johnstone, E. (2003). Schizophrenia: A very short introduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Hengeson, V. (2012). Psychology of gender. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Publishing.
Munro, A. (2006). Delusional disorder: paranoia and related illnesses. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Orchowski, M., Spickard, A., & McNamara, J. (2006). Cinema and the valuing of psychotherapy: Implications for clinical practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37(5), 506-514.
Versola-Russo, J. (2006).Cultural and demographic factors of schizophrenia. International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation 10(2), 89-103.