I became a member of the Creative Soul Club by Blogchatter recently, and they had posted which movie to watch for the meet. It was ‘A Beautiful Mind’ – a movie about John Nash, a mathematician who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994. John Nash had paranoid schizophrenia. The movie is based on a book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar.
John Nash was very sensitive and had people problems. The friendship between him and his roommate was special. Only later is something crucial revealed about this friendship.
There is a scene in the movie when John Nash and his friends are at a bar and looking to hit on women. That triggers Nash to challenge economist Adam Smith’s theory, which was that the best results come from every person in the group doing what’s best for himself/herself. John Nash says the best results come from every person in the group doing what’s best for himself/herself AND the group, thereby making a breakthrough in governing dynamics.
He was always the “weird” one but a genius, and his work meant everything to him. His relationship with his wife was wonderful in the beginning, which is why she fell in love with him, but later on when he started having his delusions, her role as a caregiver was often frustrating for her. She was a source of strength and support for him. After he was medicated to treat his schizophrenia, he felt dull and found it challenging to work as brilliantly as he had earlier.
He asks his wife “What do people do”? She tells him that there are activities available and to just add meaning to his life. “Try leaving the house. Talk to people. Try taking out the garbage,” she says. When he tells her that he was talking to a man who was collecting the garbage at night, his wife thinks he is having another delusion even though he was speaking the truth.
Sometimes, he skips his medication because he feels it make his brain dull. But this leads to near-disastrous results. He tries hard to fight his delusions and uses the rational part of his brain to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not. His psychiatrist tells him “Without treatment, John, the fantasies may take over entirely.”
The scene where his wife says “ You want to know what’s real?” – “This is real,” pointing to her heart and his, was moving. She also tells him “I need to believe that something extraordinary is possible.“ He goes back to work after approaching a former rival for work. The process is hard because Nash creates scenes when he sees his delusions. But he learns to ignore them and slowly but surely, his work is recognized by the Nobel committee. A representative from the committee approaches him and Nash uses humor to admit that he, indeed, has paranoid schizophrenia.
This movie depicts what it is like for a person with paranoid schizophrenia, but apparently in the book on which this was based, Nash does not have visual hallucinations. They introduced the visual aspect to make it suitable and more impactful for the screen.
Russel Crowe and Jennifer Connelly play the couple and they have turned in a brilliant performance. The movie was nominated for several awards and has won Oscars.
I recommend this movie to caregivers of people with mental health issues who will be able to relate to the important role they play in inspiring and motivating their relatives with mental illness.