A Beautiful Mind: Paranoid Schizophrenia Analysis

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“A Beautiful Mind” is a movie that was based off a true story of the Nobel Prize winner John Nash, who suffered with schizophrenia upon entering Princeton University. Schizophrenia is not a personality disorder, but the splitting of the mind, which can cause people to hear voices, but will not change into multiple personalities. Nash’s symptoms went unnoticed during his college career, which promoted the disease to worsen over time because of the lack of treatment.

In the movie Nash’s schizophrenia is easily classified with the positive symptoms of a schizophrenic such as, withdrawal from peers, hallucinations, and paranoia; these are only some of the symptoms being portrayed in the movie. Although the movie did not give a complete analysis of a schizophrenic, this film did an excellent job at conveying the daily sufferings a person with schizophrenia endured in their everyday life. John Nash showed many patterns for a classified schizophrenic. He showed signs of severe illusions, hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.

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The hallucinations began in the early stages of his life at Princeton, where he had an imaginary roommate named Charles. Later in the film it was proven that Charles and his niece Marcee were strongly imagined characters caused by the schizophrenia. The delusions occurred upon graduating; John believed that he was called upon by the United States government to become a secret agent and decipher codes. Through that he met another imagined character named William Parcher, who controlled his life for several years, even promoting him to kill his wife.

At the beginning of the film it is not realized that these people were imagined, until later as Nash’s paranoia overcame him. He wouldn’t attend lectures, avoided personal contact with people, and became withdrawn to his code deciphering. During a math assembly at Harvard, Nash was bombarded by Dr. Rosen, who he believed was a secret agent from the Soviet Union out to get him. He is taken to the hospital for treatment, but believed that he was being kept against his will by the Russians. After further testing it was realized that all the characters and the government work that Nash was assigned to complete were just illusions of his mind.

The DMS-IV is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which diagnoses psychiatric disorders. There are five levels of axes: Axis I is the clinical syndromes, which is the typical diagnosis. Axis II is the developmental and personality disorder. They include autism, mental retardation, paranoia, etc. Axis III contains the physical conditions, which promotes and exacerbates the development of the disorders in Axis I and II. Axis IV is the severity of the psychosocial stressors such as, the events in a person’s life, like death of a loved one, college, and marriage that can impact the disorder.

Axis V is the highest level of functioning that is rated by a clinician. This will help understanding how axes I through IV are affecting the individual and what kinds of changes to expect. These are the stages that will be used to diagnose John Nash. Stated by the DSM-IV-TR (2000) a true definition of a paranoid schizophrenic is, “The Paranoid Type of Schizophrenia is the presence of prominent delusions, or hallucinations in the context of a relative preservation of cognitive functioning and affect.

The delusions are typically persecutory or grandiose, or both, but delusions with other themes may also occur. The delusions may be multiple, but are usually organized around a coherent theme. Hallucinations are also typically related to the content of the delusional theme (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). ” John Nash shows positive symptoms for a schizophrenic, and according to the DSM-IV-TR (2000) a positive schizophrenic shows a distortion of normal functions such as, thinking which causes delusions, perception which causes hallucinations and illusions, and communication which causes uncanny speech.

Axis I, the clinical syndrome for Nash is schizophrenia and paranoid type. For Axis II there are no developmental disorders portrayed in the movie, but there were a couple personality disorders such as, narcissism, schizoid, and paranoia. Narcissism was shown by how Nash believes that he can conquer all things that had to do with mathematics, and the way he talked to ladies about the chances of him getting into bed with them were. Schizoid was shown when Nash did not want to have sexual relations with his wife, and he showed a lack of social relationships to his peers.

Paranoia took over him when he had suspicions that the Russians were after him because Parcher had stated that he would stop working for Nash if Nash stopped working for him. Axis III, Nash did not have specific physical conditions that were associated, but there was a scene where it showed Nash looking nervous wherever he was. People mocked the gestures that Nash possessed, which could have promoted Nash to be more nervous around people. In Axis IV there were many things that could have caused a stressor to his mental disorder.

It started from the pressures of entering Princeton University, with so many demands he had to be ostentatious than any of his peers. Getting married caused his schizophrenia to worsen due to the stress of trying to be a good husband, which could be seen through the film that his symptoms worsened after he got married. Having a child threw everything over the edge, which was seen when he almost drowned his own child. Axis V, Nash was continually influenced by his hallucinations and illusions which caused his ratings to be at the highest point. This helped Dr. Rosen to determine the type of therapy needed and what precautions to take.

An alternative diagnosis of Nash could have been a delusional disorder. This disorder is similar to schizophrenia, but in a less extreme level. With the process of the DSM-IV it was certain that Nash did not have this particular disorder because delusional disorder states that there may not be hallucinations present, and Nash went through many stages of hallucinations in the movie. Diathesis-stress model states that there is a genetic factor present in the development of a certain disorder. It was said that families with a history of schizophrenia were ten times more likely to pass those genes than any other family.

Like any other disorder genetics plays a main factor in a transfer of disorder from mother and father to the child. In a Current research it was proposed that schizophrenia is caused by a genetic vulnerability paired with environmental and psychosocial stressors, the diathesis-stress model (Zubin & Spring, 1977; Russo et al. , 1995; Portin & Alanen, 1997). This model can explain the primary disorder by beginning at the root of the problem. The believer of this model would state that most disorders begin from genetics from a direct family member.

I also believe that genetics plays a big role in what is passed down from generation to generation. Not everyone will be prone to it, but it is more likely for those that run in the same bloodline. A therapist that believes in the diathesis-stress model can treat patients with schizophrenia by using various treatment methods. Psychopharmacology is the study of drug induced mood changes. With these certain mood changes it can help direct someone with schizophrenia to contain. There is oral medication, also known as antipsychotic medication it can be taken to treat the neurological symptoms.

Some of the older medications included chlorpromazine, haloperidol, molindoneclozapine, and some of the newer medications are risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine. With the intake of mediation there is also help through interventions. In this particular case it would be to mitigate the stress to a certain level, since stress levels can trigger schizophrenia to react more strongly. It was proven that Nash’s symptoms became worse with stress. Containing the stress would be the best idea for a clinician that believes in the diathesis-stress model.

The therapy sessions would include a checklist of how good or bad a person is doing, what is causing them to get stronger reactions, and what is helping to contain the impulses that trigger a more severe schizophrenia. In the movie John Nash went under intensive shock therapy with the intake of antipsychotic medications. After about 9 years he stopped therapy, and with time his schizophrenia became gradually better. He learned to ignore the people that he imagined. “A Beautiful Mind” depicted a schizophrenic with many of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia that was clearly visible to anyone who watched the movie.

It did a great job on including majority of the symptoms that would be seen in a schizophrenic patient. In John Nash’s case the movie did not show all the pain that he had to endure almost half of his life. It took Nash about three decades to show improvement from his schizophrenia. There was a lot more to it then what the movie showed. The movie did a great job in showing what family member of schizophrenics went through with their loved ones. The way the material was represented in the film was accurate to my eyes, it fit all the axes and we were able to diagnose the disorder by finding the hints from the symptoms in the movie.

There were a couple of stereotypes, one would be that schizophrenic patients such as John Nash an academically gifted. Not all patients that have schizophrenia are intelligent. Another stereotype was that not all schizophrenics are violent towards people. If they are they don’t mean to be. For example there was a scene where John Nash shoved his wife and infant, but it was to protect them from his Parcher who kept influencing him to kill them. It would be hard to keep the audience entertained with out some tweaks here and there. The therapy Nash underwent in the film was shock therapy.

I believe that this therapy was common in patients back then to contain their hallucinations and emotions that were caused by schizophrenia. When Nash was getting shock therapy it seemed somewhat realistic to what a person that would feel and look like during shock therapy. In some Youtube videos seen with shock therapy used on patients, it seemed that the patients went through more pain than Nash looked like he went through in the film. Overall the film was enjoyable to watch and helped me learn a lot about what schizophrenic patients acted.

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A Beautiful Mind: Paranoid Schizophrenia Analysis. (2017, Jan 07). Retrieved from


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