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Schizophrenia in the Movie "a Beautiful Mind"

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The movie is much acclaimed and very well made as it has not used a clichéd approach to schizophrenia as a mental disorder and ways in which people deal with this debilitating disease. In the movie, the ending is touching but it shows how people once afflicted with this disorder will have to live with it for their lives. However, I would think that with the newer techniques of treatment and advancement in pharmacology, these kinds of disorders will be able to reduce the trauma of the patient and their families.

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The distinguishing symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, speech that is disorganized, behaviour that is extremely confusing or catatonic, and symptoms that are negative. When an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia experiences negative symptoms he/she experiences alogia (inability to speak) and/or emotions that are flat. In order for an individual to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, he/she must be coping with the above symptoms for over a period of one month. However, if an individual experiences delusions that are peculiar and ludicrous or auditory hallucinations which consist of ongoing commentary or two voices taking part in discourse, only one additional symptom is needed to diagnose schizophrenia. It must be noted that in order for an individual to be diagnosed with schizophrenia he/she must be experiencing vocational and interpersonal dysfunction. Furthermore, there must be an absence of symptoms part of mood disorders, such as, manic episodes. In addition to the symptoms stated above, the DSM IV includes four subtypes in its description of schizophrenia which are the following: paranoid, catatonic, disorganized, and undifferentiated. A constant and recurring obsession with hallucinations or delusions is considered to be a symptom indicative of paranoid schizophrenia. This is the subtype with the best diagnosis

However, for an individual to fit the criteria for paranoid schizophrenia he/she must not experience disordered vocalization or any kind of negative symptoms. Catatonic schizophrenia mainly involves movement irregularities, alogia, and echolalia ( repetition of words that are spoken by another individual).

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This scene is one of the most important in the movie, if not the most important, because it helps show much we do not know about schizophrenia. By analyzing this scene, it shows how the movie was able to represent certain things that we have yet to learn about schizophrenia. The movie portrays John as being able to simply not pay attention to his delusions just by rationalizing them and without the use of medication, but this may actually be done to external factors in his life. A supportive environment and aging can lead to better outcomes for schizophrenic individuals (Gil, Robert, 2002). This is portrayed in the movie as John’s wife and colleagues are all very supportive and even help get him a professorship at Princeton. So while John may attribute his remission to rationalization, it may be due to these factors. Recent studies have shown that up to 60% of individuals with schizophrenia can achieve remission through the use of treatment, however, no one knows how remission occurs (Rettner). This statistic shows how much research lays ahead but it also helps show how much progress has been made since John Nash was originally diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. After watching this movie, analyzing the details of key scenes, and reading multiple online reviews and even reviews from the real John Forbes Nash Jr., I have come to the conclusion that this movie is able to accurately portray the intricacies of schizophrenia to the audience

Although the scenes may not always accurately depict what specifically happened to John Nash, they still portray ideas and facts about schizophrenia.

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In either case, A Beautiful Mind is an inspiring story about triumph over schizophrenia, among the most devastating and disabling of all mental disorders. A Beautiful Mind succeeds in realistically describing the disturbed thinking, emotion, perception, and behavior that characterizes the disorder, and shows the difficult task of management of and/or recovery from the disorder. The movie communicates the vital importance of the factors that contributed to Nash's recovery and achievement of his amazing potential as a gifted intellectual.

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Bloomfield, Peter S. “microglial.jpg.” Bipolar Network News,

Gil, Robert. “Beautiful Minds: A movie raises questions about schizophrenia.” News From Columbia Health Sciences, Columbia University, 11 Feb. 2002

The National Institute of Mental Health. “Schizophrenia.” National Institute of Health,

Rettner, Rachael. “‘Beautiful Mind’ John Nash’s Schizophrenia ‘Disappeared’ as He Aged.” Scientific American, 4 June 2015,

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