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Schizophrenia Explained by “A Beautiful Mind” Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Jun 13th, 2022


Schizophrenia is a mental disorder of the brain which causes impairments to the perception of reality as well as its depiction in the patient. It is a disease which can emotionally devastate the [patient as well as the relatives and the loved ones of the patient causes the patients to have hallucinations as well as delusions and even in some cases disorientated speech and cognitive patterns. A Schizophrenic patient usually starts getting symptoms of the disease at an early stage in his life, usually in his/ her childhood; however the disease gets more pronounced as the person grows older. The main effect that schizophrenia has on the patient is that it causes patients difficulty to differentiate between their hallucinations and delusions and the existing reality. (Comer, 2006)

The causes of the schizophrenia are till yet unidentified and unknown. Scientists however have been able to establish the relationship pf the disease to the genetics of the patients, the biological and the environmental factors that are at play on them as well as the psychological characteristics that the patients might have. It is possible for schizophrenia to travel in the same family and be transferable through the genes of the parents. As a result it is possible for twins to have schizophrenia with the risk rate of 40 to 50 percent. A child of a parent having schizophrenia has a 10 percent chance of having the same disease. Generally in the population, a person having the disease of schizophrenia has a total 1 percent risk of suffering form the mental disease.

Some factors that are suspected to have an effect on the risk rate of a patient suffering from schizophrenia pertain to prenatal, perinatal as well as other non specific stressors. These factors can cause vulnerability in a person to develop schizophrenia. Moreover Neurotransmitters which are chemicals in the brain which enables the nerve cells to communicate with each other are also attributed to causing schizophrenia when dopamine, serotonin and glutamate are involved.

Extensive research has been undertaken on the topic of schizophrenia and its causes. This research has provided that the structure of the brain as well as the changes that take place in the brain as a person grows can also cause schizophrenia in people.

The symptoms that are attributed to the disease of schizophrenia include social withdrawal of the patient, depersonalization on part of the patient as well as the patient feeling anxiety, or having the feeling of things being unreal. Aside form this other symptoms of the disease include loss of appetite for the patient, loss of hygiene, the patient suffering form extensive delusions as well as hallucination like the patient hearing and seeing things which are not even there. Moreover it is also possible for the patient to have the feeling of being controlled by outside forces.

There are no physical elements of schizophrenia, as the person suffering from the disease does not have any physical deformities or symptoms; however it is possible for the patient to suffer form social withdrawal, not being comfortable around other people as well as becoming an introvert. The emotional elements of the disease pertain to the patient having difficulty in expressing his or her emotions while suffering from impairment in which they are unable to feel pleasure as well. (Comer, 2006) The patient also suffers from mood swings, most particularly of them going into deep bouts of depression. The cognitive element of the disease is that the person suffers from the inability to perform cognitive function like processing information, understanding what is happening around them and even performing simple tasks which may require cognitive activity.

‘A Beautiful Mind’

The movie titled ‘A Beautiful Mind’ depicts very explicitly the symptoms of schizophrenia and how it affected the life of Nash. The movie provides very real and lifelike hallucinations which support the symptoms of the diseases, however the extent to which the hallucinations are real and life like ring untrue.

In the movie the specific scenes which depict that the Nash was suffering from the disease of schizophrenia include the scenes where Nash is having conversations with his college roommate and interacting with him on numerous occasions. Later on in the movie it is depicted that these interactions as well as the roommate was a fiction of Nash’s mind the delusions and the hallucinations that he underwent because of the diseases. This specific scene depicts the symptoms of hallucination, delusion. Other scenes which depict schizophrenia include the scenes where Nash suspects that Russian secret agents are after him to force him to find the formula and the code for his equation which came to be known as the Nash theory. These scenes depict that he is being chased and followed by these discreet agents while being actively confronted in other scenes as well. These depict delusions and paranoia in Nash which is a symptom of the schizophrenia disease.

Moreover aside from these another scene depicts in the movie where Nash who is bathing his child stops in the middle of the chore and wanders off outside. His wife spots him in outside near the shed and runs into the house to save their child from drowning. This depicts both the elements of hallucination, as well as the cognitive disability that was being faced by Nash in terms of simply completing the chore of bathing his baby. In yet other scene where Nash is suffering from delusions and hallucination of both visual and auditory nature pertain to scenes where his friends, who are actually delusions, try to force him and aggravate him to murder his wife. As a result in the scene where his wife threatens to leave with his child he realizes that his friends and roommates are actually figments of his imagines and hallucinations caused by schizophrenia. In these scenes he controls his cognitive abilities and fights ‘his demons’ to stay coherent. Other scenes which specifically depict the cognitive disability of Nash to perform simple brain processing tasks include the scenes in which Nash depicts erratic behavior and the inability to perform simple tasks like moving about the house as well as the psychiatric facility.

Through the different scenes, some of which have been depicted above, the movie has been able to establish how it is possible for parents of schizophrenia to develop the disease and suffer from it without being aware of their ailment.

The film the beautiful mind has been criticized for inaccurately portraying the life of Nash and not bringing to light the extent of his illness as well as the effect it has on his life. Aside from this the movie also presents an oversimplified version of the Nash equilibrium which does not actually exist. In terms of depicting the illness of Nash, the film has perform a positive role as it does depict how he suffers form hallucination, hearing sounds which are not even there and seeing visuals which are not even present. Aside from this the social withdrawal of the character is also depicted aptly in the movie while the emotional stress and the confusion being felt by the person is also depicted. Most of all the difficulty faced by Nash in processing simple cognitive thoughts and functions is very specifically depicted, however the extents of the illness depicted in the movie is inaccurate.

The movie depicts the hallucinations of Nash to be very realistic, so much so that they form full bodied entities like detailed images, scenes as well as detailed sounds and music. In reality however it is very uncommon for a schizophrenic patient to have such distinct and clear hallucinations (Comer, 2006). In this regard the director of the movie has stated that he took liberties to enhance the extent of the hallucinations and Nash’s disease to dramatize the movie. This therefore proves inaccurate in real life. Moreover in the movie it is depicted that Nash is able to achieve high degree of achievement despite his extensive suffering of the diseases, this in real life is not possible, and in addition to this, given the circumstances depicted in the film, it is also not possible for the family of Nash to provide him with as much support as is depicted in the film.

One of the things however which was not present in the case of Nash suffering form schizophrenia in reality was that he only used to suffer from auditory delusions and hallucination, while in the movie it is depicted that he suffers form both visual and auditory hallucinations.


(2007), Neuropsychological Impairments in Schizophrenia: Integration of Performance-Based and Brain Imaging Findings, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 133, No. 5, 833-858

Comer, R.J., (2006), Abnormal Psychology, Ed: 6, Worth.

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"Schizophrenia Explained by "A Beautiful Mind"." IvyPanda, 13 June 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/schizophrenia-and-a-beautiful-mind-movie-review/.

1. IvyPanda. "Schizophrenia Explained by "A Beautiful Mind"." June 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/schizophrenia-and-a-beautiful-mind-movie-review/.


IvyPanda. "Schizophrenia Explained by "A Beautiful Mind"." June 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/schizophrenia-and-a-beautiful-mind-movie-review/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "Schizophrenia Explained by "A Beautiful Mind"." June 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/schizophrenia-and-a-beautiful-mind-movie-review/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'Schizophrenia Explained by "A Beautiful Mind"'. 13 June.

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