Saturday, May 10, 2014

Reaction Paper: A Beautiful Mind

Samia, Dorothy Ann C. | 2013-15089

Mr. Juned Sonido | STS X2

John Nash and Schizophrenia

            John Forbes Nash, Jr. is a mathematician who won the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The 2001 film A Beautiful Mind directed by Ron Howard shows the life of Nash as a mathematician and his schizophrenia. The film starts with Nash’s arrival at the Princeton University. He is a geek and a loner for only a few people notice him and want to talk to him. He is an achiever for he is a recipient of the Carnegie Scholarship for mathematics. He also meets other science and math students who will later become his close friends. When he goes to his room, he believes that he meets his roommate Charles Herman. At this point, he does not know yet that Charles is just his imagination and is caused by his schizophrenia.  He finds comfort in Charles for he is somewhat a loner. His imagination of Charles is triggered especially when he is depressed or stressed. Because he is an achiever, he gets easily stressed when things do not work out. When he lost to his rival Martin Hansen in a game of hex, he had a hard time of accepting it. He also got very stressed when he was still not able to come up with any original ideas for his paper. He started hurting himself but Charles appeared and comforted him. Charles was the one who keeps on telling Nash to never give up and that he can achieve his goals. Nash’s imagination is somehow helpful to him for it keeps him balanced and it kicks him back to his senses whenever he is depressed. He also overanalyzes things and thinks that he can solve all problems by using mathematical techniques. But it was through this that he discovered his contribution to game theory. After some years, the film shows that Nash is not happy with his work in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He feels that he is useless and is not contributing anything to the society. Because of this, he starts believing that he was hired by William Parcher of the US Department of Defense to find patterns on magazines and newspapers to discover the Soviet Union’s plans. This “job” makes him feel that he is worthy and is needed by the society thus he becomes very obsessed with finding patterns. Nash eventually married his student Alicia Larde and had a son. His family becomes neglected for he is very dedicated to his decoding job. After Alicia discovers that Nash has schizophrenia, she did not leave him and supported him through his medications. Because of this, Nash realized that he is really hallucinating and starts to believe that he can fight these hallucinations even without medication. The support and love of his family really helped him in dealing with schizophrenia. I would say that Alicia truly is a loving wife for she stayed beside her husband even if it was very hard. It was also very touching that at the end of the film, Nash received his Nobel Prize and dedicated his speech to his wife.
     Schizophrenia is a very serious mental illness. Stressed, depressed and lonely people are more prone to schizophrenia. These feelings may trigger hallucinations to satisfy the needs of the victims. Just like Nash, whenever he felt lonely and needed a friend, Charles would appear to comfort him. When he also felt that his job was very uninteresting, he started hallucinating that he is hired as a decoder to make him feel that he is special. Some schizophrenia patients are given insulin shots. I do not agree with this kind of medication because for me, it is too violent and harsh. It would be better if patients are given medicines that would not trigger any violent effects and are given counselling. But even though different kinds of treatments and medications are given to the patient, they would not work if the patient’s family, relatives and friends do not support him. Still, the best kind of medicine is the love, care and support of family, relatives and friends. When the patient feels that he is loved, he would get more inspired to fight schizophrenia. Love and care would also lessen the patient’s hallucinations for the patient does not anymore need to satisfy his needs through his imaginations for he is satisfied by his family and friends.   

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