A Beautiful Mind

Mental illness and mental disorders have plagued individuals for many years before the development of the psychiatric community embraced the challenges of treatment with understanding.  It can be assumed that everyone has had an encounter with someone who is mentally ill at some point in their life.

Stereotypical images of those with mental disorders encompass the erroneous image of a filthy homeless individual viewed talking aloud to some imaginary person or thing.  Other images depict the mentally ill individual ranting and raving like some ravenous animal with wild eyes and an animal-like posture.

These images are poor portrayals of the mentally disturbed often created by Hollywood as a means to keep viewers entertained.  Contrary to popular belief, a mentally ill person looks just like any other human being despite some peculiarities, however, in the society of today, anyone could be mentally ill.


The Hollywood motion picture, A Beautiful Mind, was directed a documental-like story of an actual world renowned mathematician named John Nash (Grazer & Howard, 2001).  Nash was born in West Virginia and later went on to attend graduate school at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.

He was then twenty-one years old.  Throughout his secondary academic career, Nash remained somewhat unsociable and preoccupied with his research and coursework.  He did not appear to have much time for dating or socializing with members of the opposite sex either.

Nash’s competitive nature served as a driving force for his academic research and achievements.  His economic theories and studies enabled him to win appointments and academic recognition through much of his time while studying at Princeton University.  While his mathematic theories would leave a reasonable person ultimately dumbfounded and confused,


it became like a second language to Nash.  Simple tasks like games became too complicated for him to participate in (Grazer & Howard, 2001).  If it did not equate into a mathematical equation, then in Nash’s thinking, it could not be logical or proven to be absolute.

Nash later met a woman, Alicia, while teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Over a period of time, the two began dating and later married.  Together they would have one child, a son, named John.  During the course of their marriage, Nash would become more and more distant.  He would blame the distance on his work and research.


Psychological Symptoms

Friends began to notice that his personal hygiene was lacking in the area of care and presentation.  He would regularly forget to shave, his shirts would not be tucked in properly, and his hair would be stringy and unwashed.

He began walking with a noticed shuffle while simultaneously clutching his briefcase tightly against his chest as though it bore protection.  He socially disconnected from his colleagues by informing them that his research was classified (Grazer & Howard, 2001).  Worst of all, he started forgetting that he was required to teach a class at MIT, and he would often not show up.

During Nash’s time studying at Princeton University, he became good friends with his roommate.  He would meet up with his old college chum several times over the course of the following years.  It would later be revealed that Nash had no roommate at Princeton University, but rather he was assigned to a dormitory and resided alone the entire time (Grazer & Howard, 2001).

The imagined roommate was a hallucination (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).


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