In the film ” A Beautiful Mind” John Nash experiences a few different positive symptoms. The first of these positive symptoms are seen through the hallucinations John has of having a room -mate while at Princeton. This room- mate continues to stay “in contact” with John through out his adult life and later this room- mate’s niece enters Johns mind as another coinciding hallucination. Nash’s other hallucination is Ed Harris, who plays a government agent that seeks out Nash’s intelligence in the field of code- breaking.
This hallucination of Ed Harris is the key factor in Nash’s delusional thinking. He has delusions of being a secret government aide that is helping the U.S. find bombs throughout the country that were placed here by the Russians. Nash hallucinates that Ed Harris places a device inside his arm that allows him to see a code under an ultra-violet light. This device allows Nash to gain entrance to a secret location where he is to leave the cracked codes. In reality this secret location is an abandoned, dilapidated mansion, and the key- pad that Nash types his code into no longer functions. Nash’s code breaking abilities are partly made possible by his hallucinations.
The codes pop out of the paper to him and everything makes sense. Even though the codes are imaginary since there was no secret- code- breaking- project underway, Nash figures out mathematical formulas and actually modifies a theory that had been accepted in its field. He says that he can’t do his work without the hallucinations. One scene that will remain in my mind forever and the best example of the negative symptoms of Schizophrenia is a scene where John Nash is shown holding his infant son while the baby is crying and Nash shows absolutely no sign of emotion at all.
This is just one example, although a loss of feeling is one of the most predominate negative symptoms. Nash’s flat affect is seen through out the film in many instances but that scene that shows him holding the baby shows it in a way that almost anyone can relate to, assuming they are not afflicted by the same condition.
The evidence of the cognitive symptoms, as with any disease, is more difficult to see externally in a person suffering from Schizophrenia. John Nash was not a very social person and I believe that this is attributed to the inability of expressing thoughts and feelings caused by the disease. His office in the movie looks somewhat like what I imagined the inside of his mind to look like; cluttered. Pictures on top of articles, on top of more pictures. There were papers hanging from the ceiling and string connecting pictures while forming patterns.
One pattern I saw repeated a few times throughout the film was a spider- web image. This to me just shows how everything in his mind seemed as though it was connected in some way. Since neither me nor anyone else in my family is afflicted with this horrible, pain-staking disease, I have no first hand knowledge regarding the issue.
It seems to me that a person can not understand this disease without being surrounded by it and feeling how every part of it effects the person afflicted and the people that care about them. Even though John Nash wasn’t diagnosed with Schizophrenia until he was well into adulthood, the symptoms still effected his life a great deal. He said himself that he didn’t enjoy being around people and he didn’t think that people wanted to be around him. His relationships with colleagues were based on academics and although he didn’t realize it during the time, these colleagues considered themselves to be his friends.
They respected him for his intelligence and coped with his social awkwardness as simply one of his idiosyncrasies caused by his genius. His wife was the one person who knew him and dealt with the disease first hand. Due to his flat affect and severe anhedonia John was unable to be intimate with his wife and I can only imagine this to be very difficult for her especially when she was not aware of his disease.
After learning of his diagnosis his wife grew fearful of him and was unable to trust him alone with their child. Again, I can only imagine the pain in not being able to leave your child with its father without fear of the child being harmed. I have never seen a Schizophrenic experience a psychotic episode, and I’m quite sure that if I ever had before taking this class or watching this movie I would have no idea what to do or how to react. Now I know that nothing really can be done other than to let that person know that they are loved and that you are there to listen.
I see how it can be frustrating not only for the person experiencing the disease but also for their family or loved ones that are helping them cope. To not be able to know what is going on in your own mind must be the scariest thing to experience. Not knowing what is reality and what is a delusion would make anyone “crazy”. I realize that it is impossible to tell someone that something is wrong when you, yourself, can’t even tell that something isn’t right. If the delusion were better than reality, why would you want to know the truth?