A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind is in many peoples’ opinions one of the best movies ever made. Even my roommates, when I told them I was going to watch it, said that they remember that movie vividly and that it was one of their personal favorites. The key psychological disorder, as well as the main plot twist, is that the main character – John Nash, a brilliant Mathematician – has schizophrenia.
For the first half of the movie, this disorder is not blatantly obvious to the viewer, though on a second time through it you would definitely notice the hints. Several characters, such as John’s roommate Charles and the mysterious Mr. Parcher, are later on proven to be fictional characters in John’s mind although in the movie, they are visual and auditory parts of John’s life. When it is finally revealed in the psychiatric ward that John has schizophrenia, and that several characters in fact don’t exist in reality, John eventually begins to battle against seeing and responding to his delusions. Over a period of a few decades John finally manages to permanently ignore his hallucinations, rather than become dependent on the medication.
What the movie portrays about schizophrenia is John’s paranoia and the realness of his hallucinations. They talk, they move, they even seem to have an effect on physical objects. At several points in the movie, John interacts with several delusions at once, each doing work on imaginary machinery. Eventually, John has to take shock therapy and medications in order to combat his disorder. The side effects of the medication upon his ability to do his work and take care of his family prove to be too great of a cost, which the movie portrays as almost worse than having the hallucinations.
What struck me most about watching A Beautiful Mind is how real the delusions seem to the person with the disorder, and how difficult treatment is after its been discovered. As the viewer, you definitely feel compelled by the delusions and struggle to come to grips with them as well when the disorder is discovered in John. The viewer also feels heavily connected to the personal struggles John has to face in order to overcome his disorder and lead a “normal” life. There was a glimmer of hope, however, in that the real John Nash did in fact win the Nobel Prize after learning to control his responses to the delusions, and was able to return to his great work in Mathematics.