A Beautiful Mind Movie Review

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Ron Howards 2001 movie, A Beautiful Mind having stood the test of time as one of the greatest movies about severe mental illness, showcases John Nash, as a character suffering some of psychopathology. The movie provides a non-romanticized and an accurate record of mental despair and angst that are part of mental illness in a deeply-touching and elegant manner. The movie offers a unique insight of what schizophrenia feels like from the patients perspective.

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The movie reveals various symptoms, as well as John Nashs treatment for paranoid schizophrenia which was discovered in a much later stage. Classical symptoms he demonstrated include having hallucinations. For instance, while at Princeton, his best friend and roommate was Charles, but that was not a real person, rather, it was an imaginary person, a making of Johns hallucinations (A Beautiful Mind, 2001). His hallucinations worsen as he believes that he is a top secret agent of the U.S. government. He believes that is working on a top secret project, but not even his wife had access to. He soon starts missing classes but a psychiatrist intervenes, and reveals that his stay at the asylum was unpleasant, and was believed to be a Soviet plan that meant to stop him from working on secret governmental missions. His wife finds it hard to believe the psychiatrist, but Johns story was true. She then decides to visit the school to find out what he was up to in his free time. She finds confidential envelopes which were yet to be open and supposed to be sent to Parcher, the person who put John in the surreptitious mission. John has to face reality as his make-belief stories are true. He confronts reality when he discovers that Marcee, Charless niece never grew any older that when they met. Even so, Dr. Rosen informs Alicia, his wife, that the three characters Charles, Marcee, and Parcher only exist in his own imagination (A Beautiful Mind, 2001).

Nash is frustrated with the adverse side effects that the medication given by the doctor. He secretly stops taking them and relapse, and meets Parcher again. In another instance, John Nash, due to his hallucinations, leaves his son bathing and the child almost drowns. This happens after he relapses Nash goes ahead and claims that Charles, the imaginative character was supposed to watch the baby. Following this incidence, Alicia calls Dr. Rosen, however, Nash due to his schizophrenic condition, believes that Parcher is trying to kill her. In a bid to save her, he rushes to push Parcher away, only to accidentally knock his wife and the baby to the ground (A Beautiful Mind, 2001). In times when he is not experiencing the symptoms, and when he recognizes that he has not been hallucinatory, he feels remorseful about the episodes. In addition, as a schizophrenic characteristic, when experiencing an episode of the illness, he finds it difficult to distinguish between reality and the state into which he is in. As evidenced by these tendencies of mental illness, it can be concluded that Nash is experiencing paranoid schizophrenia because he showcases characteristics dominated by illogical and absurd beliefs. These are highly elaborated and organized coherently via a delusional framework.

DSM-5 provides a criterion for identifying schizophrenia. In the guide, the first part requires that the patient experiences two or more of the following disorders: disorganized speech, hallucinations, catatonic behavior, delusions or and reduced emotional expression (Butcher et al., 2013). Concerning Nash condition, it is clear that he has delusion and hallucinations. For example, Marcee, Charles, and Parcher are not real characters, rather, they are imaginative, a making of John Nashs hallucinations. Prior to courting Alicia, Charles, the imaginary character encourages Nash to ask Alicia out.

The second part of the DSM-5 criteria requires that the since the onset of the mental illness disturbance, the patients level of functioning in one or more areas of, including work, self-care, interpersonal relationships is below the level the patient achieved before the onset of the schizophrenic tendencies. Also, it requires that at the instance of onset, there is failure to achieve the expected or normal level of academic, interpersonal, and/or occupational functioning (Butcher et al., 2013). John Nash prior to the onset of the schizophrenic tendencies was a good mathematician and professor. However, after the onset of the disturbance, he misses classes. In addition, their relationship with Alicia is greatly hampered, and they end up separated when Nash leaves their child in the bathtub, nearly drowning and knocking his wife together with the child to the ground mistaking them for Parcher.

The third part of the DSM-5 criterion for diagnosing schizophrenia requires that the patient showcases continuous signs of the disturbance, which often persists for at least 6 months. In addition, the 6-month period must also entail a month of symptoms or less if treated that must meet the first part of the DSM-5. These include delusions and hallucinations. Further, they may also include periods of residual or prodomal symptoms. During the residual or prodomal period, the disturbances may be demonstrated by negative symptoms or by symptoms enlisted in the first part of the DSM-5 such as unusual perceptual experiences and odd beliefs (Butcher et al., 2013). In the case of John Nash, he believes that he is being followed by mercenaries while undertaking his top secret mission. Further, he believes that Charles is his friend, only to realize that he is a character of his own imaginative making. Also, in the incidence where Nash knocks Alicia and the baby down, he does so while attacking Parcher, an imaginary character too.

The fourth part of the DSM-5 criterion requires that depressive or bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder have been ruled out because no major manic episodes have occurred concurrently with the active-phase symptoms or if the mood episodes have occurred in the active phase, they have only been present for a minority of the total time of the residual or active phases of the illness (Butcher et al., 2013). Considering John Nashs condition, his hallucinations and delusions are only worse during the active and residual phases of the mental illness. The symptoms were very minor prior to the active phase, and was considered normal. He even married and had a child,

The last part of the DSM-5 criterion holds that the disturbances are not attributed to physiological effects including drug abuse or even medication (Butcher et al., 2013). John Nash was never taking any medications, nor was he abusing any drugs. Therefore, it can be concluded that John Nash has passed the five parts of being schizophrenic, as per the DSM-5.

I chose Assen Jablenskys The diagnostic concept of schizophrenia: its history, evolution, and future prospects as the journal article for review. The article recognizes the elusive nature of etiology, patho-psychology, and neuropathology of schizophrenia. Even with the presence of a diagnostic criteria, the article asserts that schizophrenia is a broad clinical syndrome defined by behavioral impairments and symptoms. Even so, as the article points out, research has identified neurocognitive dysfunction, neurochemical abnormalities, and brain dysmorphology as biological markers associated with schizophrenia (Jablensky, 2010). None of these have been proven to be successful in diagnosing the condition. Even genetic linkages have failed to showcase that any gene variance is associated with the condition. However, the researcher points the fact that it is important to have empirical evidence as a support while diagnosing schizophrenia, and with the aid of endephenotypes, is a promising methodology while dealing with schizophrenia genetics (Jablensky, 2010).

The article relates to John Nash in that it is helpful in diagnosing schizophrenia. The article uses DSM-3 criteria as a tool for diagnosing schizophrenia, and Nash, satisfies the three criterions, thus proving that he suffers from schizophrenic tendencies. In addition, schizophrenia, as the article points out, is shown by evidence of paranoid or hallucinatory tendencies, which Nash showcases as per the DSM-5 criteria, as well as withdrawal from reality (Jablensky, 2010). Also, the article uses the F20 schizophrenic diagnostic criteria, where Nash can meet the criteria for he satisfies the criteria. Firstly, he hears hallucinatory voices, which are persistent, and suffers a catatonic behavior. As such, the article is related to the schizophrenic tendencies that John Nash suffers from in the movie A Beautiful Mind.


Butcher, J., Hooley, J., & Mineka, S. (2013). Abnormal psychology. Boston: Pearson.

Grazer, B., Howard, R., Goldsman, A., Crowe, R., Harris, E., Connelly, J., Bettany, P. & Imagine Entertainment (Firm). (2002). A beautiful mind. Willowdale, Ont: Distributed by Universal Studios Canada.

Jablensky, A. (2010). The diagnostic concept of schizophrenia: its history, evolution, and future prospects. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 12(3), 271.

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