Sunday, May 11, 2014

Reaction Paper- A Beautiful Mind

Mateo, Alyssa De Fiesta


     John Nash seemed to be the stereotypical genius—extremely intelligent, possessed a lot of different quirks, and had great difficulty in social situations—however, he took this stereotype a step further. John Nash was diagnosed with schizophrenia, defined as a severe brain disorder which causes the individual to experience hallucinations, delusions, and extreme paranoia.[1] His illness damaged his academic career, his relationship with his family, as well as his perception of himself. “Your worst enemy is yourself,” is a common adage, but it is especially true for John Nash, whose mind is both his sense of purpose and his ultimate obstacle.
     A Beautiful Mind highlighted this struggle. It illustrated Nash’s persistence and tenacity in overcoming a tremendous hurdle—one’s own mind. It must take a great amount of will to fight against oneself, as well as a great amount of passion: His love for his field as well as his dedication to his family has allowed him to transcend the boundaries set upon him by psychology and by society. The struggle was a long one, and in fact, it never quite ended. By the end of the film, John Nash still was not able to completely get rid of his hallucinations, but he certainly learned to manage them better. This leads one to the realization that some battles are never totally won, but that this does not equate to a loss. It becomes a continuous learning process that allows the individual to grow and become better as people; and sometimes, that is all we can ever really ask for.
      One of the strongest themes of the movie is the science of psychology and psychiatry. As a Sociology major, I have been trained to view these disciplines with a bit of skepticism because of their tendency to normalize certain behaviors and to create boundaries between normal and deviant which is often argued to be a social construction. Upon watching the film, however, I saw the need for recognizing mental illnesses if they are truly detrimental to the individual. However, it also calls into question society’s definition of “crazy” and whether or not we can truly say that a condition is a disorder.

[1] National Institute of Mental Health, What is Schizophrenia?, n.d., (accessed May 11, 2014); available from

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