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A Beautiful Mind

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A Beautiful Mind is the 2001 movie interpretation of Sylvia Nasar biography about John F. Nash Jr. by film makers Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and screenplay written by Akiva Goldsman. The film is about the true life story of John Forbes Nash Jr. of West Virginia. The movie has succeeded in showing that the very brilliantly minded John Nash can suffer from a debilitating mental disorder such as Paranoid Schizophrenia and still achieve greatness. The reason that I picked this movie was because I had never seen it and a while back a few years ago I heard of this movie which was supposed to be great. Since, this movie is about the life and times of a real person; I will be using three of the five criteria in order to write this assignment properly. They will be how does the movie reflect its social context, how does the movie distort social reality and to what degree does the movie connect biography, social structure, and history. We will look at what is Schizophrenia, the treatments for it back then, John's different statuses in life with regards to this illness and his remarkable recovery. Finally, did the movie make a difference in how people view mental illness? The main focus of the film is what happened to a young man, starting in the late 1940's, while attending graduate school. He was destined to be someone of greatness because he could do mathematics equations about subjects that most of us wouldn't know where to start. He has an insight into mathematics that people who had been professors for decides don't have (Henry 2002). However, at the same time he started acting a bit different than his classmates and friends around him. What kept his disorder from being discovered earlier was the fact that his fellow mathematicians dismissed his behavior as par for the course for a mathematician of his caliper. When a person gets so involved in his research that the mundaneness of everyday life is so far from what they are working on, most people just leave them alone. John's true to life story is put on film in such a way that he is still a hero, as opposed to just another person with a mental illness. Keep in mind that the film isn't a realistic, actual event by event of John's life. The film's production team did extensive research into how to best represent what happened in a way that the audience could feel what he went through. He has gone on to achieve many different statuses in his life so far. It would be a good idea at this point to see what it was like to have a mental illness back then and what treatments were available.

While attending graduate school at Princeton or a short time later, John started hearing voices and having very different patterns of thought than those around him. The way that the filmmakers were able to show everyone that John had a disorder called Paranoid Schizophrenia was to portray him as a person who could see people around him that only he could see. According to Silvia Naser, who spent three years doing extensive research into John's life, recalls that John only had auditory delusions and not full blown hallucinations (Kadlecek 2002). To get a better picture of what John was dealing with, Paranoid Schizophrenia, Dr. Richard Noll, Ph.D. says " The symptoms of Schizophrenia should have two or more of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period: 1. Delusions 2. Hallucinations 3. Disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence) 4. Grossly disorginized or catatonic behavior 5. Negative symptoms, i.e., affective flattening, alogia, or avolition. Note: Only one Criterion A symptom is required if delusions are bizarre or hallucinations consist of a voice keeping up a running commentary on the person's behavior or thoughts, or two or more voices conversing with each other. "John was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia which has these additional characteristics: "1. Preoccupation with one or more delusions or frequent auditory hallucinations. 2. None of the following is prominent: disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, or flat or inappropriate affect" (Noll 2007). In the 1950's, one of the treatments that was used to treat Schizophrenia was Insulin Coma Therapy. The procedure goes as follows: a patient is injected with a dose of insulin, and then waits for that person's blood sugar to hit rock bottom. Just before the patient goes into an insulin coma, the body starts to shake very violently. While at the same time a hose (gavage) is placed in the person's nose that leads to the stomach containing a solution of glucose. The patient would then start to regain consciousness, feel sluggish and then want to eat everything in sight. This treatment would leave them not worrying about their delusions or hallucinations. Dr. Fink said this about what a patient would get out of this type of treatment, "the benefits of ICT were best assured when the brain's electrical activity changed, and this occurred most often after a prolonged coma. The benefits in ICT were seen to be in developing new (different) brain rhythms of electrical activity that did not encourage psychotic thoughts. Similar observations were made in support of a neurophysiologic theory for



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