A Beautiful Mind: Coping With Schizophrenia

A Beautiful Mind: Coping With Schizophrenia

John Forbes Nash, a mathematician, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics and genius in every field is the protagonist in the film we are discussing today: A Beautiful MindNot only has this film won four Academy Awards, attracting the attention of the Hollywood studios, but it has also been able to attract the attention of specialists in psychology and psychiatry, thanks to the way it illuminated the subject of schizophrenia. 

A Beautiful Mind tells the story of the extraordinary John Forbes Nash, who learned to live with schizophrenia by applying a rule or norm that stated that “every problem has a solution.”

Schizophrenia and Mental Duality

John Forbes Nash lived in a perpetual duality born of his own mind. Because of the illness he suffered from, schizophrenia, he had to learn to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

The hallucinations and delusions never completely disappeared from his life, but he learned to control them to the point that, after years of working with psychiatrists and doctors, he was able to return to work as a math teacher and was honored with a of the most important prizes in the scientific and artistic world. It was his brilliant mind that earned him worldwide recognition as he suffered and fought to overcome his illness.

You as readers are probably wondering one thing: can schizophrenia be cured or not?

Treating Schizophrenia

The film covers a period of almost five decades. The most difficult years for John Nash are undoubtedly the 1970s. During this period, he was admitted to a mental institution several times.

The film shines a bright light on the illicit use of psychotropic drugs during his time in the institution, as well as the dreaded electroshock therapy used in the United States to “repair” several cases of psychosis and aggressiveness. The truth is that these measures not only do not help the patient, but also cause further deterioration.

Moreover, so many different kinds of sick people were put together in one room, from people with neuroses to dangerous psychoses, that these institutions seemed like arbitrary prisons, where the purpose was more to keep these people off the street than to ensure their recovery.

Side effects of these treatments include impotence, tendency to gain weight, difficulty concentrating as well as a state of constant apathy, due to the fact that in many cases the treatments involved narcotics.

In light of this reality, John Nash devised a highly controversial way of coping with his illness without having to spend the rest of his life in a mental institution. A way that does not offer a solution for all sick people: accept that he has hallucinations and learn to live with them for the rest of his life.

John Nash, an example of self-improvement

Thanks to his great cognitive and intellectual capacity  , Nash learned through effort, patience and practice to distinguish between reality and his delusions. It was a great example of overcoming great adversity.

However, this decision raises a series of questions that are still unresolved, as they involve topics that are controversial on a moral and ethical level.

  • Is it safe to just let someone with hallucinations live their life without taking medication?
  • Will the life of someone suffering from a mental disorder really be of a better quality in a mental institution than out in the world, even if it means they may struggle with their personal fears?
  • Is schizophrenia getting enough attention compared to other disorders, such as bipolar disorder, or is it still taboo psychosis among the other mental disorders?

There is still much to learn before we can provide appropriate answers to these pressing questions. But one thing is clear: John Nash found an extraordinary way of coping with his schizophrenia, all thanks to his wonderful mind and personal skills.

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