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Film Analysis: A Beautiful Mind

Essay by review  •  February 14, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,231 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,468 Views

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Film Analysis: A Beautiful Mind

I. Introduction

For this assignment, I choose to view A Beautiful Mind, which is a biography based on the true life story of a math prodigy, John Forbes Nash Jr. The movie is a brilliant and touching portrayal of the destruction of the mind by schizophrenia, paranoia, and the effect of ostracism. These psychological concepts and conditions are clearly shown by the main character, played by Russell Crowe. Two of the concepts extensively described in this paper are schizophrenia and the concept of paranoia.

II. Plot Review

The movie is loosely based on the book of the same name and tells the story of John Forbes Nash Jr. At the beginning of the film, the character John Nash arrives as a new student at Princeton University. He is introduced to his imaginary roommate Charles, who would later become his best friend, as well as a group of male students who hang out together. The first part of the film shows Nash's intellectual concepts and his social deficiencies. In college Nash begins to work on the concept of governing dynamics. During the entire first part of the film, Nash does not know that his roommate and best friend, his friend's young niece and a mysterious Department of Defense agent are all hallucinations and are part of a psychotic ailment known as schizophrenia.

After the conclusion of Nash's studies as a student at Princeton, the agent encourages Nash to look for patterns in magazines and newspapers, accordingly to stop a

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Soviet plot. Consequently, Nash begins to have increasingly paranoid delusions that lead him to behave erratically.

A fellow co-worker of Nash reports his behavior to the authorities; as a result he is forcibly sedated he is sent to a psychiatric facility. Nash is then confronted with the truth of his schizophrenia. Initially this situation feeds his paranoia that the Soviets were trying to extract information from him, but his wife is able to show him the unopened "top secret" documents, which convinces him that he has been hallucinating.

Nash is released on the condition of agreeing to take antipsychotic medication. However, these drugs create terrible side-effects on his personality, his relationship with his wife, and his intellect. Nash stops taking his medication, triggering a relapse of his schizophrenia. After a dangerous situation occurs between his wife and child Nash finally realizes these people are not "real" and he has been imaging them the whole time. He then fully accepts that all three of them are, in fact, part of his psychosis. Caught between having to choose the intellectual paralysis of the antipsychotic drugs or the haunting of his disease, Nash and his wife decide to try to live with his schizophrenia. Nash begins to try to ignore his hallucinations and therefore not feed the thoughts.

The rest of the movie depicts Nash growing older while working on his studies in the library of Princeton University. He still suffers hallucinations and periodically has to check if new people he meets are real, but ultimately he develops the ability to live with and largely ignore his mental problems. Eventually, Nash begins to teach at the university and is honored by his fellow professors for his lifetime achievement. Nash goes on to be awarded Nobel Prize for Economics for his work on game theory.(IMDB)

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III. Psychological Concept


Nash suffered from the mental illness, known as Schizophrenia, almost all his life. Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness and is one of the most serious of the chronic, persistent mental illnesses. It affects one percent of the world's population, and strikes people of every race, every economic group and is found in a whole range of mental abilities. People with this illness have disturbed and disorganized thinking, language, and behavior. They may see, hear, or feel things that aren't really there. Sometimes the speech of a person with schizophrenia makes no sense because they are having unusual thoughts, such as believing that they are God. Schizophrenia usually causes serious problems in day-to-day living and creates false delusions and beliefs.

The term schizophrenia means "split mind." Those who have it seem to have normal mental function in some areas but are very disturbed in others. For example, a person may talk in bizarre ways but be able to do math, such as Nash and his abilities. The symptoms of schizophrenia include constant, complex and compelling delusions. Some delusions are extravagant and seem very realistic. Sometimes they are persecutory and the person believes that others are plotting against him. Some delusions are referential, as in John Nash's case where he believed that newspaper passages were sending him secret messages, that certain numbers held mystical meanings. Schizophrenia brings hyper awareness, sensory excess, and a strange wakefulness; it creates a false perception on life. People with schizophrenia tend to withdraw and to lack

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motivation and energy, which are called negative symptoms of the illness. Disruptive behavior, hearing voices, and having delusional thoughts are positive symptoms.

Often the affected person hears berating, terrifying voices. They may order the person to commit violence or feel guilt. The voices are a constant frightening conversation of sound interfering with outside reality. Visual hallucinations also may occur; people's faces can shift and change and frightening and bizarre visions are seen. At times, the world appears to be a dangerous and threatening place that is out of the control of the affected person. Many people with the illness become so afraid to venture outside that they are prisoners in their homes. Others wander the streets shouting their delusions out loud. Many homeless people suffer from schizophrenia, due to their condition and amount of stress.

Schizophrenia is a biologically based illness. It is not caused by bad parenting, stressful situations or lack of will power. However, stress may trigger an attack in a genetically pre-disposed person. Some scientists believe that something might happen before birth, such as a viral infection in the womb that causes schizophrenia decades later.

Special scans, such as PET (positron-emission tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), have been used



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