For John Nash, living with the diagnosis of schizophrenia meant this tormenting battle of delusion versus reality would be fought for a lifetime. By definition, schizophrenia is a devastating brain disorder that affects a person’s thinking, language, emotions, social behavior, and ability to perceive reality accurately. (Halter p.200) While the disease manifests itself differently among age groups, all individuals will experience at least one psychotic symptom which may include hallucinations, delusions and/or disorganized speech. (Halter p.202) In addition, sufferers may neglect hygiene, nutrition, be socially awkward or eccentric and have experience greater anxiety, depression and decreased concentration. Substance abuse is also associated with schizophrenia and nicotine dependence rates range between 70%-90% for patients.
Delusions are false fixed beliefs that cannot be corrected by reasoning. The most common types of delusions are persecutory, grandiose, or those involving religious or hypochondriacal ideas. (Halter p.204-205) Hallucinations are also a common symptom among those who have schizophrenia. Auditory hallucinations are experienced by 60% of people with the disease at some time during their lives. (Halter p. 207)
The scientific consensus is that the disease occurs when multiple inherited gene abnormalities combine with nongenetic factors such as viral infections, stressors, or birth injuries, altering the structure of the brain, affecting the brain’s neurotransmitter systems and/or injuring the brain directly. (Halter p. 202)
In the movie A Beautiful Mind, we are given a glimpse into the life of John Nash, a world- renowned mathematician who is also a victim of schizophrenia. Although John Nash is ultimately rewarded with the Nobel Prize for his work, it is not an easy journey for him or his family.
The beginning of the movie portrays Mr. Nash as an eager minded student who triumphantly enters Princeton University as a recipient of the Carnegie Prize, an esteemed award for mathematics. We notice his slightly awkward way of dealing with classmates and with women. We meet his intellectual rival, Martin Hansen who challenges him to a game of Go. Nash does not win the game and is greatly trouble by this. He explains, “I had the first move. My play was perfect. The game is flawed.” A Beautiful Mind (2001). Despite his less than comfortable presence around people, Nash does forge a friendship with Martin, Sol and Bender. These three young men are also math and science students who later aid him in his work.
Nash displays an immense passion for work that bleeds into every aspect of his life. Whether in his dorm room drawing on the window or at local pub contemplating how to get everyone a date, his mind is constantly in motion. Nash also has a roommate during his years at Princeton. When first meeting Charles Herman, it is easy for the audience to be drawn to his charismatic persona and devotion to John. The interaction between the two is reminiscent of college roommates at any institution as they share laughs, struggles and victories. Nash later admits that Charles was his best friend over the years. While at Princeton, Nash must find an original idea for his thesis paper before he can begin work. The pressure is enormous to do so before anyone else. Nash is successful in this venture with his discovery of the game theory. He gains the respect of Martin, his former rival and begins work with Sol and Bender. This type of mathematical economics, impacts lives even today. Following his work at Princeton, he accepts a job at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is during this time he meets Alicia Larde. Alicia is a graduate student in his class who takes an interest and even asks him to