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The Impact of John Nash’s Mental Health on His Scientific Achievements and Family in A Beautiful Mind and Manic

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Jane Doe
Sociology 304
Professor John Doe
3 April 2018

The chosen movies for this course are A Beautiful Mind and Manic. This explication is going to look at the “big picture” in the two movies. To start with, the movie A Beautiful Mind revolves around John Nash who hails from West Virginia and has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University. John Nash got a job at MIT and taught multivariable calculus to a student by the name Alicia Larde. This led to a fruitful relationship whereby the two got married and bore a son. Later, Nash was unwillingly taken to a psychiatric hospital. Nash went through a series of remissions and relapses in the next few decades since he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia (Nash 103). This movie’s title is derived from the fact that Nash has a brilliant mind and at the same gets paranoid, which takes effect on his life to a greater extent.

John Nash was not able to resume his full duty as a professor after his illness since his brilliance had been diminished. However, his family along with his colleagues at work treated him with the utmost respect. All these virtues are depicted in the way thought is influenced by John’s emotions through the way he accomplishes great things in graduate school and is recognized for having an original idea. Therefore, for John to survive Schizophrenia, his mind necessitated focus, a brilliant mind fueled for several years by his ambition to get well and retrieve his position as the professor (Torrey 23). John’s healing was also of great need since his son needed his attention as he grew up while his wife also needed intimacy. All these expectations required a loving heart that would be guided by self-assessment.

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The “big picture” in this movie that can be based on sociology revolves around the mind state of John Nash. For starters, Nash, his wife, and colleagues do not realize his deteriorating state of mind. This is because they link all his behaviors to his unique mathematical mind. This brings a contrast between the two people since they marvel at John’s genius state only to sympathize with his madness later. John’s state of mind is critical since even the doctor administers the insulin coma therapy for his healing. This is linked to the subculture at Princeton whereby John refuses to go to class. His refusal leaves him with adequate time to do research and come up with an original idea. This made him win the 1978 Von Neumann Theory Prize and a 1999 Steele Prize (Nasar 74).

The situation faced by John Nash also affects his family greatly. Dealing with a schizophrenic person is not easy at all. John’s wife has to gather the courage to help her husband recover as well as come back home. This also affects their son who has to stay for some time without a father. This certifies the fact that schizophrenia affects the lives of those who suffer from it along with the care takers (Nasar 17). John’s behavior also bothers his colleagues at work whereby he had to halt his classes in order to go for medical treatment. This meant that the work he had been doing as a professor had to come to a stop so as to take care of more delicate matters.

John Nash had his two sides of life that saw him accomplish several things. This begins from the job he got as a professor in MIT to teach mathematics. His academic career gives him a broader scope of wanting to know more. This made him fail to go to classes so that he invented new dimensions in Mathematics. More so, his love life is brought to the limelight when he falls in love with Alicia. This was after their interaction in class as he taught her Calculus, which leads to their marriage. The bait of love created by the two ends up well since even after John falls sick, his family is there to support him. John eventually feels better and goes back to work though he could not work like before.

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John has to adhere to the doctor’s instructions at the hospital since the doctor has administered a tough medication process. The insulin coma injection will cure John’s sickness though it comes with several side effects. For instance, the individual feels a bit uncomfortable, develops a high resistance to whatever affected him in the past and as he continues to fight it, the process seems challenging. However, John gets well from the help of doctors and his family.

The sociological perspective of this analysis tries to look at the schizophrenic state of the major character John Nash. Schizophrenia is a split of mind whereby John was able to see himself as having multiple personalities. For instance, one of the personalities he experienced was that of his roommate Charles Herman who studied English and Literature. This led to jumbled thinking and incongruous actions in everything he did. The amounting pressure and what the public expects of him is also on the rise. John amounts this pressure to a point where he fails to discover an original idea, a vision he greatly wanted to fulfil. Later, John gets an insight when his colleagues discuss on ways of approaching some women in a bar where John happened to be present. John is obviously afraid of approaching women and this makes him prefer the cooperative approach to them. This was after one of the members of the group argues that in such a situation, the best thing was “every man for himself.” From the bar incident, Nash comes up with a new perspective of looking at things. This he calls “a new concept of governing dynamics.”

John’s mental capacity was on the upward trend as he did all things to improve it. For example, some years later, he was invited to The Pentagon in order to crack an encoded enemy telecommunication. This was a chance for Nash to proof his skills since he was able to interpret the code rationally yet the other code breakers could not perform the task. This was a superb task for Nash, which he considered at his capacity and level of thinking. This explains the reason behind considering his task at MIT uninteresting.

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This was because the duties assigned to him in the institution were below his talent, something that made him wonder whether he was just wasting his talent on things that could not develop his capability. However, there was a breakthrough in John’s life when the US Department of Defense gave him a job. Nash was assigned the task of finding patterns in the newspapers and magazines that were aimed at frustrating the Soviet plot. This assignment made John more paranoid as he concentrated all his efforts in searching for these hidden patterns. Moreover, John believed that someone was after him each time he went to deliver his findings in a secret mailbox.

Nash’s life is full of fear after he got married to Alicia Larde after he saw a grave shoot-out between William Parcher, a supervisor at the US Department of Defense and the Soviet agents. This amounts to John’s will to leave his job due the fear of losing his life. However, William Parcher blackmails John to stay in his job as the defense department needed his services. John’s fear goes to the extent of wanting to flee from some agents he sees while delivering a lecture at Harvard University. John hits Dr. Rosen who he sees as one of the foreign agent he sees (Torrey 45). John is immediately sedated and taken in a psychiatric hospital. It was after this incident that Dr. Rosen broke the news to Alicia that his husband was schizophrenic. Additionally, Charles Herman and William Parcher were people he imagined in his mind who in the real sense never existed. Alicia later realizes the unopened mails where John used to drop them and antagonizes him. By this time, Nash is stunned by the insulin shock therapy he underwent while at the hospital. Therefore, he furtively ceased taking the medication that was administered to him at the hospital. Once he stopped taking the medication, his condition worsened, which resulted to a relapse. The imaginations were back again and he meets William Parcher a second time. The relapse was worse this time since John went to the extent of hurting his wife and son by knocking them to the floor in the name of preventing William Parcher from killing Alicia.

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John’s hallucinations went beyond control and he tried to stop Alicia from leaving the house. John even saw Alicia as Marcee who had seen a long time ago. Thus, he tells Alicia that she never got old. John comes to term with his condition and began taking the medication again though Dr. Rosen was against it. His wife later decided to support him in the healing process. John also asked for help from his old rival who was then the head of Princeton mathematics department so that he worked in the library department and audit classes. Nash learned to ignore his hallucinations with time as he grew older.

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Works Cited

Nasar, Sylvia. A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Forbes Nash, Jr., Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics 1994. Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Nash, John. The Essential John Nash. Edited by Harold Kuhn, Sylvia Nasar. Princeton University Press, 2002.

Torrey, Fuller. Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Consumers, and Providers. 4th ed., Harper Collins, 2001.


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