Term Paper: Film: Beautiful Mind, Starring Russel Crowe

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¶ … Beautiful Mind

The film a Beautiful Mind (2001, Ron Howard) presents a true story of mental disease and its effects on a man and his family. Many people view mental illness as if it were a sign of a weak mind. The story of John Nash belies that idea and demonstrates that mental illness can happen to anyone and that what is needed if greater understanding of the issue. No one can view Nash as a man who is less intelligent because he is mentally ill. He was a mathematician of note before he experienced the horrors of schizophrenia and would come back to win the Nobel Prize in his field. The film might have the unfortunate effect of bolstering the view of some that academics are close to insanity in any case because they are different from everyone else, but the way the story is told in the film only illustrates the greater truth that Nash is much like everyone else except for a period of time when he was suffering from an illness, not a defect.

A precise definition of schizophrenia has not been offered as yet, and there has been much argument about precisely what constitutes the disease. Schizophrenia is classified as a psychotic disorder or group of psychotic disorders causing a patient to lose touch with reality, and the course of the disorder shows an individual who is marked by severely impaired reasoning and emotional instability, even to the point of displaying violent behavior. Severe depression does not define schizophrenia, though depression may be part of the process of schizophrenia. Some patients may have symptoms of depression or mania in addition to schizophrenia. Some are diagnosed with schizoaffective illness, and these patients may respond better to treatment with lithium, also used for mania. Other clinicians argue that there is no such disorder and that these patients may have schizophrenia with a more complex array of symptoms. Suicide is a concern given that severely affected patients are prone to hopelessness and discouragement when faced with the depth of the problem.

The way the problem is depicted in the film has the advantage of showing the viewer both sides of the matter, on the one hand presenting the view of those closest to the sufferer, those who watch his behavior change and who have to cope with the care and treatment of the sufferer; and on the other hand showing the sort of illusions in the mind of the sufferer, illustrating why he is afraid and how he is tormented by the sights and sounds only he can experience directly. A third point-of-view depicted in the film is that of those who may not be as close to the patient as his wife and other relatives and who may lack the understanding of medical professionals and so react poorly to mental illness. Nash's problem developed in the 1950s, a time when mental illness had a greater social stigma than it does today, but also a time not as judgmental as earlier eras when the mentally ill were locked away and forgotten, as if nothing could be done to help them. Nash's story shows not only how suddenly this sort of problem may develop and now unexpectedly it may do so, but also how it may correct itself in some cases just as abruptly. Nash's story is different in that he did indeed survive well and returned to normalcy, and while that is not always the case, his story does offer hope to those who may themselves be afflicted.

The treatment for an individual will be based on a variety of factors other than the diagnosis, such as the presence of other psychiatric or medical conditions, personal and social circumstances, and variations for the individual. These recommendations are based on substantial scientific research.

The treatment offered when Nash suffers from the disease is insulin shock therapy, he is helped somewhat by the drugs available at the time, but he only really begins to improve when newer drugs and treatments are made available and so help him return to relative normalcy. His version of the disease takes shape around those aspects of his life that most define him. He is a mathematician and seeks patterns in numbers and data, and his illness manifests… [END OF PREVIEW]

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