You are on page 1of 8

A Beautiful Mind is a 2001 American film based on the life of John Forbes

Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics.[2] The film was directed by Ron Howard
and written by Akiva Goldsman. It was inspired by a bestselling, Pulitzer
Prize-nominated 1998 book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. The film stars
Russell Crowe, along with Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer
and Paul Bettany.

The story begins in the early years of Nash's life at Princeton University as he
develops his "original idea" that will revolutionize the world of mathematics.
Early in the movie, Nash begins developing paranoid schizophrenia and
endures delusional episodes while painfully watching the loss and burden his
condition brings on his wife and friends.

The film opened in US cinemas on December 21, 2001. It was well-received


by critics, grossed over $300 million worldwide, and went on to win four
Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted
Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. It was also nominated for Best
Leading Actor, Best Editing, Best Makeup, and Best Score. The film has been
criticized for its inaccurate portrayal of some aspects of Nash's life. The film
fictionally portrayed his hallucinations as visual and auditory, yet factually
they were exclusively auditory. Also, Nasar concluded that Nash's refusal to
take drugs "may have been fortunate," since their side effects "would have
made his gentle re-entry into the world of mathematics a near impossibility";
in the screenplay, however, just before he receives the Nobel Prize, Nash
speaks of taking "newer medications."[3]

John Nash (Russell Crowe) arrives at Princeton University as a new graduate


student. He is a recipient of the prestigious Carnegie Prize for mathematics;
although he was promised a single room, his roommate Charles Herman (Paul
Bettany), a literature student, greets him as he moves in and soon becomes
his best friend. Nash also meets a group of other promising math and science
graduate students, Martin Hansen (Josh Lucas), Sol (Adam Goldberg), Ainsley
(Jason Gray-Stanford), and Bender (Anthony Rapp), with whom he strikes up
an awkward friendship. Nash admits to Charles that he is better with numbers
than people, which comes as no surprise to them after watching his largely
unsuccessful attempts at conversation with the women at the local bar.

The headmaster of Princeton informs Nash, who has missed many of his
classes, that he cannot begin work until he finishes a thesis paper, prompting
him to seek a truly original idea for the paper. A woman at the bar is what
ultimately inspires his fruitful work in the concept of governing dynamics, a
theory in mathematical economics.

After the conclusion of Nash's studies as a student at Princeton, he accepts a


prestigious appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),
along with his friends Sol and Bender.

Five years later, while teaching a class on calculus at MIT, he places a


particularly interesting problem on the chalkboard that he dares his students
to solve. When his student Alicia Larde (Jennifer Connelly) comes to his office
to discuss the problem, the two fall in love and eventually marry.

On a return visit to Princeton, Nash runs into his former roommate Charles
and meets Charles' young niece Marcee (Vivien Cardone), whom he adores.
Nash is invited to a secret Department of Defense facility in the Pentagon to
crack a complex encryption of an enemy telecommunication. Nash is able to
decipher the code mentally, to the astonishment of other codebreakers. Here,
he encounters the mysterious William Parcher (Ed Harris), who belongs to the
United States Department of Defense.

Parcher observes Nash's performance from above, while partially concealed


behind a screen. Parcher gives Nash a new assignment to look for patterns in
magazines and newspapers, ostensibly to thwart a Soviet plot. He must write
a report of his findings and place them in a specified mailbox. After being
chased by Russian agents and an exchange of gunfire, Nash becomes
increasingly paranoid and begins to behave erratically.

After observing this erratic behavior, Alicia informs a psychiatric hospital.


Later, while delivering a guest lecture at Harvard University, Nash realizes
that he is being watched by a hostile group of people, and although he
attempts to flee, he is forcibly sedated and sent to a psychiatric facility.
Nash's internment seemingly confirms his belief that the Soviets are trying to
extract information from him. He views the officials of the psychiatric facility
as Soviet kidnappers. At one point, he tries to dig out of his arm an implant
he received at The Pentagon, causing much bleeding.

Alicia, desperate to help her husband, visits the mailbox and retrieves the
never-opened "top secret" documents that Nash had delivered there. When
confronted with this evidence, Nash is finally convinced that he has been
hallucinating. The Department of Defense agent William Parcher and Nash's
secret assignment to decode Soviet messages was in fact all a delusion. Even
more surprisingly, Nash's friend Charles and his niece Marcee are also only
products of Nash's mind.

After a series of insulin shock therapy sessions, Nash is released on the


condition that he agrees to take antipsychotic medication; however, the
drugs create negative side-effects that affect his sexual and emotional
relationship with his wife and, most dramatically, his intellectual capacity.
Frustrated, Nash secretly stops taking his medication and hoards his pills,
triggering a relapse of his psychosis.

While bathing his infant son, Nash becomes distracted and wanders off. Alicia
is hanging laundry in the backyard and observes that the back gate is open.
She discovers that Nash has turned an abandoned shed in a nearby grove of
trees into an office for his work for Parcher. Upon realizing what has
happened, Alicia runs into the house to confront Nash and barely saves their
child from drowning in the bathtub. When she confronts him, Nash claims
that his friend Charles was watching their son. Alicia runs to the phone to call
the psychiatric hospital for emergency assistance. Nash suddenly sees
Parcher who urges him to kill his wife, but Nash angrily refuses to do such a
thing. After Parcher points a gun at her, Nash lunges for him, accidentally
knocking Alicia to the ground. Alicia flees the house in fear with their child,
but Nash steps in front of her car to prevent her from leaving. After a
moment, Nash realizes that Marcee is a hallucination, because although
years have passed since their first encounter, Marcee has remained exactly
the same age and is still a little girl. Realizing the implications of this fact, he
tells Alicia, "She never gets old." Only then does he accept that although all
three people seem completely real, they are in fact part of his hallucinations.

Caught between the intellectual paralysis of the antipsychotic drugs and his
delusions, Nash and Alicia decide to try to live with his abnormal condition.
Nash consciously says goodbye to the three of them forever in his attempts
to ignore his hallucinations and not feed "his demons"; however, he thanks
Charles for being his best friend over the years, and says a tearful goodbye to
Marcee, stroking her hair and calling her "baby girl", telling them both he
would not speak to them anymore. They still continue to haunt him, with
Charles mocking him for cutting off their friendship, but Nash learns to ignore
them.

Nash grows older and approaches his old friend and intellectual rival Martin
Hansen, now head of the Princeton mathematics department, who grants him
permission to work out of the library and audit classes. Even though Nash still
suffers from hallucinations and mentions taking newer medications, he is
ultimately able to live with and largely ignore his psychotic episodes. He
takes his situation in stride and humorously checks to ensure that any new
acquaintances are in fact real people, not hallucinations.

Nash eventually earns the privilege of teaching again. He is honored by his


fellow professors for his achievement in mathematics, and goes on to win the
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his revolutionary work on game
theory. Nash and Alicia are about to leave the auditorium in Stockholm, when
Nash sees Charles, Marcee and Parcher standing and watching him with
blank expressions on their faces. Alicia asks Nash, "What's wrong?" Nash
replies, "Nothing. Nothing at all." With that, they both leave the auditorium.

• Russell Crowe as John Forbes Nash, Jr.. A mathematical genius


who is obsessed with finding an original idea to ensure his legacy.
There was difficulty when casting Crowe, who was well-liked by the
producers, when he went to film Gladiator in a different time-zone and
was difficult to reach for an extended period of time to attach him to
the project.[4]
• Jennifer Connelly as Alicia Nash. A later student of Nash who
catches his interest. Connelly was cast after Ron Howard drew
comparisons to her and Alicia Nash, both academically and in facial
features.[4]
• Paul Bettany as Charles Herman. Nash's cheerful, supportive
roommate and best friend throughout graduate college. The character
of Charles was not written to be British; however, director Brian
Helgeland provided a tape of Bettany from A Knight's Tale. The
filmmakers agreed that the character could be British, based on
Bettany's performance in the film.[5]
• Ed Harris as William Parcher. A highly dedicated and forceful
government agent for the Department of Defense. He recruits Nash to
help fight Soviet spies.
• Josh Lucas as Martin Hansen. Nash's friendly rival from his graduate
school years at Princeton. In the end, Hansen tells Nash that nobody
wins, and they are at that point to consider each other as equals.
• Adam Goldberg as Sol. A friend of Nash's from Princeton University
who is chosen, along with Bender, to work with him at MIT.
• Anthony Rapp as Bender. A friend of Nash's from Princeton
University who is chosen, along with Sol, to work with him at MIT.
• Vivien Cardone as Marcee. Charles' young niece.
• Christopher Plummer as Dr. Rosen. Nash's doctor at a psychiatric
hospital.
• Judd Hirsch as Helinger. The head of the Princeton mathematics
department.

John Forbes Nash Jr., Ph.D. (born June 13, 1928) is an American
mathematician whose works in game theory, differential geometry, and
partial differential equations have provided insight into the forces that govern
chance and events inside complex systems in daily life. His theories are still
used today in market economics, computing, artificial intelligence,
accounting and military theory. Serving as a Senior Research Mathematician
at Princeton University during the later part of his life, he shared the 1994
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with game theorists Reinhard
Selten and John Harsanyi.

Nash is also the subject of the Hollywood movie A Beautiful Mind, which was
nominated for eight Academy Awards (winning four). The film, based very
loosely on the biography of the same name, focuses on Nash's mathematical
genius and his struggle with paranoid schizophrenia.[1][2]

Schizophrenia

Nash began to show signs of extreme paranoia and his wife later described
his behavior as increasingly erratic, as he began speaking of characters who
were putting him in danger. Nash seemed to believe that there was an
organization chasing him, in which all men wore "red ties". Nash mailed
letters to foreign embassies in Washington, D.C., declaring that he was
establishing a world government.[citation needed]

He was involuntarily committed to the McLean Hospital, April–May 1959,


where he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and mild clinical
depression.[3] Upon his release, Nash resigned from MIT, withdrew his
pension, and went to Europe, unsuccessfully seeking political asylum in
France and East Germany. He tried to renounce his U.S. citizenship. After a
problematic stay in Paris and Geneva, he was arrested by the French police
and deported back to the United States at the request of the U.S.
government.
In 1961, Nash was committed to the New Jersey State Hospital at Trenton.
Over the next nine years, he was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, where
besides receiving antipsychotic medications, he was administered insulin
shock therapy.[3][7][8]

Although prescribed medication, Nash wrote later that he only took it either
involuntarily or under pressure, but after 1970, he was never committed to
the hospital again and refused any medication. According to Nash, the film A
Beautiful Mind inaccurately showed him taking new atypical antipsychotics
during this period. He attributed the depiction to the screenwriter (whose
mother, he notes, was a psychiatrist), who was worried about encouraging
people with the disorder to stop taking their medication.[9] Others, however,
have questioned whether the fabrication obscured a key question as to
whether recovery from problems like Nash's can actually be hindered by such
drugs,[10] and Nash has said they are overrated and that the adverse effects
are not given enough consideration once someone is considered mentally ill.
[11][12][13]
According to Nasar, Nash recovered gradually with the passage of
time. Encouraged by his then former wife, De Lardé, Nash worked in a
communitarian setting where his eccentricities were accepted. De Lardé also
said for Nash, "it's just a question of living a quiet life".[14]

Nash dates the start of what he terms "mental disturbances" to the early
months of 1959 when his wife was pregnant. He has described a process of
change "from scientific rationality of thinking into the delusional thinking
characteristic of persons who are psychiatrically diagnosed as 'schizophrenic'
or 'paranoid schizophrenic'"[15] including seeing himself as a messenger or
having a special function in some way, and with supporters and opponents
and hidden schemers, and a feeling of being persecuted, and looking for
signs representing divine revelation.[16] Nash has suggested his delusional
thinking was related to his unhappiness, and his striving to feel important and
be recognized, and to his characteristic way of thinking such that "I wouldn't
have had good scientific ideas if I had thought more normally." He has said,
"If I felt completely pressureless I don't think I would have gone in this
pattern".[17] He does not see a categorical distinction between terms such as
schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.[18] Nash reports that he did not hear
voices until around 1964, later engaging in a process of rejecting them.[19]
Nash reports that he was always taken to hospital against his will, and only
temporarily renounced his "dream-like delusional hypotheses" after being in
hospital long enough to decide to superficially conform and behave normally
or experience "enforced rationality". Only gradually on his own did he
"intellectually reject" some of the "delusionally influenced" and "politically-
oriented" thinking as a waste of effort. However, by 1995, he felt that
although he was "thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of
scientists", he felt more limited

Signs and symptoms

A person diagnosed with schizophrenia may demonstrate auditory


hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized and unusual thinking and speech;
this may range from loss of train of thought and subject flow, with sentences
only loosely connected in meaning, to incoherence, known as word salad, in
severe cases. Social isolation commonly occurs for a variety of reasons.
Impairment in social cognition is associated with schizophrenia, as are
symptoms of paranoia from delusions and hallucinations, and the negative
symptoms of avolition (apathy or lack of motivation). In one uncommon
subtype, the person may be largely mute, remain motionless in bizarre
postures, or exhibit purposeless agitation; these are signs of catatonia. No
one sign is diagnostic of schizophrenia, and all can occur in other medical and
psychiatric conditions.[4] The current classification of psychoses holds that
symptoms need to have been present for at least one month in a period of at
least six months of disturbed functioning. A schizophrenia-like psychosis of
shorter duration is termed a schizophreniform disorder.[4]

Late adolescence and early adulthood are peak years for the onset of
schizophrenia. In 40% of men and 23% of women diagnosed with
schizophrenia, the condition arose before the age of 19.[9] These are critical
periods in a young adult's social and vocational development, and they can
be severely disrupted. To minimize the effect of schizophrenia, much work
has recently been done to identify and treat the prodromal (pre-onset) phase
of the illness, which has been detected up to 30 months before the onset of
symptoms, but may be present longer.[10] Those who go on to develop
schizophrenia may experience the non-specific symptoms of social
withdrawal, irritability and dysphoria in the prodromal period,[11] and transient
or self-limiting psychotic symptoms in the prodromal phase before psychosis
becomes apparent

Tardive dyskinesia is a variety of dyskinesia (involuntary, repetitive


movements) manifesting as a side effect of long-term or high-dose use of
dopamine antagonists, usually antipsychotics. Other dopamine antagonists
that can cause tardive dyskinesia are drugs for gastrointestinal disorders
(e.g. metoclopramide) and neurological disorders. While newer atypical
antipsychotics such as olanzapine and risperidone appear to have less
dystonic effects, only clozapine has been shown to have a lower risk of
tardive dyskinesia than older antipsychotics.[1]

Delusion of reference: The person falsely believes that insignificant remarks,


events, or objects in one's environment have personal meaning or
significance. For instance, a pers  Grandiose delusion: An individual is
convinced they have special powers, talents, or abilities. Sometimes, the
individual may actually believe they are a famous person or character (for
example, a rock star or Christ). More commonly, a person with this delusion
may believe they have accomplished some great achievement for which they
have not received sufficient recognition (for example, the discovery of a new
scientific theory).
 Persecutory delusions: These are the most common type of delusions and
involve the theme of being followed, harassed, cheated, poisoned or
drugged, conspired against, spied on, attacked, or obstructed in the pursuit
of goals. Sometimes the delusion is isolated and fragmented (such as the
false belief that co-workers are harassing), but sometimes are well-organized
belief systems involving a complex set of delusions ("systematized
delusions"). People with a set of persecutory delusions may believe, for
example, they are being followed by government organizations because the
"persecuted" person has been falsely identified as a spy. These systems of
beliefs can be so broad and complex that they can explain everything that
happens to the personon may believe they are receiving special messages
from newspaper headlines.