A Beautiful Mind

Coping with Schizophrenia.

A Beautiful Mind (2001) “tells the powerful, true story of Nobel Prize–winning mathematician John Nash and his struggle to distinguish fantasy from reality as he copes with schizophrenia” (Oltmanns & Emery, 2012, p. 332).   At beginning of the film, Nash was almost normal, although behaved a little awkward in social environment.  He was better with numbers than people, as he admitted.  During the years at Princeton and MIT, Nash succeeded his academia and career, and he married Alicia, a girl he loved from his class.  However, Nash must have carried the genetics of schizophrenia which could onset usually in early stage of a person’s life when triggered by some specific social or biological events.

In this film, Nash became paranoid and started to show schizophrenic symptoms after he was chased by the Russians and exchanged gunfire.  But in fact, all about Russians and the Department of Defense assignment were only his delusion; even his Princeton roommate and friend Charles and his niece Marcee were found to be imaginary only.  What happened to Nash showed that one could be in a schizophrenic state long time before the actual onset of schizophrenia.

Nash’s schizophrenia was intense during the time when hallucinations cut off his mind from reality.  One time he almost drowned his baby son.  Eventually, with his strong determination, the love of his wife, and help from friends, Nash learned to cope with schizophrenia and was able to return to research and academic work.  His achievement in mathematics let him win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.  Life with schizophrenia is always a struggle.  Without his wife’s full-hearted love and support, Nash couldn’t achieve a successful career and satisfied life.  It takes courage and compassion to cope with schizophrenia for patients and their loved ones.


A severe type of abnormal behavior, schizophrenia is usually reflected as madness.  But suffering schizophrenia is more than being mad; it is a disorder with many different faces.  Schizophrenic patients present many different types of psychotic symptoms, indicating that they have lost touch with reality. They may hear voices that aren’t there or make comments inconceivable to normal people. It seems absurd ideas and beliefs guide and control their mind and behavior.  Some people with schizophrenia recover fairly quickly, whereas others deteriorate progressively after the initial onset of symptoms. Because of the diversified symptoms and outcomes, many scientists and psychiatrists believe that schizophrenia may actually include several forms of disorder that have different causes. Other researchers think that schizophrenia is a single pathological process, and the differences of symptoms among patients reflect and express the level and severity of this disorder (Oltmanns & Emery, 2012).


Oltmanns, T. F. & Emery, R. E. (2012). Abnormal psychology (7th ed.).  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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