Interesting ideas for A Beautiful Mind essay
The film A Beautiful Mind sparked a lot of discussion for its portrayal of American mathematician John Nash and his long struggle with schizophrenia. It shows mental illness in a different light from many previous films, so it's inevitable that it's become a popular subject for essays. The internet is full of suggestions for writing one, but with some imagination it's possible to write something a bit more interesting.
- The plot concerns how Nash's career and personal life are affected by his schizophrenia, which of course is considerably. How would things have turned out if he hadn't suffered from it though? In the film Nash is encouraged to propose to his girlfriend by his roommate Charles Herman - but Herman is one of his hallucinations. Nash's insistence that he wouldn't publish a paper until he had a unique idea was also probably a result of his illness, and in fact he did finally have a unique idea. It revolutionised the field of Game Theory and won him a Nobel Prize. To what extent did his illness benefit him? Would his life have been worse without it?
- In fact it's possible to go a bit farther. Was Nash a genius despite his illness, or was he a genius because of it? Schizophrenics often have serious problems relating to the real world. They can be very awkward or inept in social interactions. Nash was a mathematician who he saw most problems in terms of numbers - in the film, he discovers a new concept in game theory by working out how he and his friends can approach a group of girls in a bar. If he'd been able to relate better to people would numbers have held such an attraction for him?
- At one point in the film Nash stops taking the antipsychotic drugs he ahs been prescribed, because he realises that they are affecting his mental abilities. What effect could this have on people who are suffering from mental illnesses? Nash is portrayed as managing to cope without drugs through his intellect and the support of his wife, but is this a realistic option for most people? Do film makers bear any responsibility for portraying issues like this?
- How could the film change people's perception of mental illness? Despite his intelligence Nash often says and does things that could easily be seen as stupid, and a common perception of people with a mental illness is that they are incapable of functioning normally. This film is based on a true story, though, and John Nash won a Nobel Prize. Can portrayals like this improve the image of the mentally ill?
Overall A Beautiful Mind is an extremely thought-provoking film, and there are a lot of very interesting essay options that come from it.
Ron Howard’s The Beautiful Mind is an American film that follows the life of scientific and mathematical genius and Princeton University graduate John Nash. The film begins with Nash and his colleagues at a ceremony where he is a co-reclplent for a math scholarship. HIS obsession with patterns and math Is first noticed when he attempts to match the reflection from the sun and the glass jug to the patterns on a colleagues tie to which he responds: “There must be a mathematical explanation for how bad your tie is,” (A Beautiful Mind, Howard: 2001). In his first appearance he seems anxious and very socially awkward.
But it wasn’t until meeting his roommate, Charles Herman, that things began to change. As a graduate and a new, aspiring professor Nash was under tremendous amount of pressure to publish and become more established. With the increased pressure from both the head of the math department and others, John developed an obsession with finding his inspiration which he gains from his colleagues on a night the decided to see who can best approach a group of women at the bar. This concept leads John to develop and publish his theories and concepts and to a Job he has been seeking.
John presents ith Narclsslstlc Personality Disorder (NPD), an Axis II disorder according to the DSM- IV-TR. Narclsslstlc Personality Disorder Is a cluster B disorder that Is Involves three elements: an Inflated view of oneself, a lack of warmth of empathy for relationships with others, and using a variety of strategies to help maintain this inflated self-view (Campbell & Baumeister, 2006: 423). John’s inflated view of oneself is exemplified when he displays the belief that he is superior to fellow graduates and even the textbooks in which he was made to read in school.
Additionally, he believed he was est able to provide solutions better than a textbook or a professor could ever “train” him to. Another example is when he was playing a game with a friend and upon losing the game, he believed that the game was flawed and it wasnt his fault for losing. His lack of empathy or warmth for his relationships Is shown when he was lecturing his class and closed the window and he had an angry outburst towards a student saying that the students comfort Isn’t as Important as his ability to hear himself speak.
Finally, the third element of NPD Is present In John’s behaviour when e uses scapegoating to explain why the things he does never quite seems to work out as planned, it is always something or someone else’s fault except his. But when it comes to successes, he is happy to take the credit. According to W. Keith Campbell and Roy F. Baumeister (2006), people with NPD aren’t necessarily anti-social, in fact they are very social and it is this socialness that fuels the narcissism and prolongs the beliefs that he or she is superior to everyone and everything else.
Additionally, Campbell and Baumeister (2006) differentiates between two types of narcissism ntra-and-interpersonal narcissism. Intrapersonal narcissism is a desire and fantasy of success and well as the self-serving bias that Is portrayed by John. Interpersonal narcissism Is using personal status and success to boost self-esteem. John displays Intrapersonal narcissism desire through his the validation he feels when he Is able to do things to Impress others such as mentally solve the codes and patterns of the Soviet plot.
Additionally, John display of interpersonal narcissism is exemplified with the same example of him belittling the students’ needs only to prove that his was ore important because he was the professor, the head of the class. Another way is further along in the movie when Charles continues to tell him to show everyone how much of a genius he is continuing to fuel John’s belief that he truly is a genius and thus superior to anything a textbook could every teach. In addition to NDP, John also presents with the Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, a cluster C disorder according to the DSM-IV-TR.
OCD is characterized by the “fixation on getting things done the right way:’ (Barlow, D. H. , Durand, V. M. , & Stewart, S. H. , 2012: 468). However, with John the issue isn’t Just getting things done “the right way’ but Just getting things done and not stopping until he is completely done and have successful fgured out a code or a pattern. This seems to be what happened when John was recruited by Will Parcher to decode the Soviet plot. His completion of this led to his increased paranoia of being watched and followed by Soviet agents.
The stress from this seems to have triggered his schizophrenic hallucinations. Moreover, as the film moves along it is seen that each time John meets with any type of stress he begins to allucinate and imagine different people and different scenarios. Additionally, it is evident that John displays evidence of OCD because he displays several of the features. Some of the features he displays include being so work oriented that he has poor social relationships (Krasean, 2013). When Will Parcher first arrived, John describes himself to him not as needing any friendships but as being a lone wolf.
He shows no sign of longing for any type of social relationship but Just that he wants to focus on his craft and his work. Another characteristic John displays is that of being xtremely orderly in everything he does. He has a step for everything and there is an order, everything he says seems to have been strategically thought out. This tells me he is extremely cautious of what he says and how he says. It also tells me that he takes care in making sure that what he says makes sense and that others are able to see his vision and be convinced by it.
Lastly, John presents as emotionally shallow again in the sense that he takes no fear in the fact that he has no close relationships, other than the one he later develops with Alicia and the one he has with Charles Herman. This shows me that he is not only strategic in the way he befriends people but also that he might feel as though for him to be friends with the someone that he or she is lucky to have him as a friend and that he is Just there for his ego to be stroked. The diagnosis of schizophrenia is given to John because of his increased hallucinations and delusions that seem to disrupt his ability to function in his daily life.
Although he is still capable of performing tasks such as providing a solution to codes and drawing patterns with numbers and letters, John is unable to perform simple tasks such as caring for his family. In addition to these characteristics, John also meets several of the characteristics of as defined by the DSM-IV-TR. Schizophrenia is sometimes difficult to diagnose because “a number of the behaviours are not necessarily shared by all the people who are given the diagnosis,” (Barlow, D. H. , Durand, V. M. , & Stewart, S. H. , 2012: 478).
However, despite this fact, researchers were able to define a number of characteristics and symptoms that make up the disorder. The two most predominate symptoms are hallucinations, seeing or hearing things other do not see or hear, as well as believing n unrealistic, bizarre notions not shared by others in the same culture, better known as delusions (Barlow, D. H. , Durand, V. M. , & Stewart, S. H. , 2012: 478). These are two of the things that John profound displays throughout the duration of the film.
Although viewers were not privvy to this information at the beginning of the film, but John interactions with Charles Herman and later his niece were actually hallucinations that no one else saw nor heard happening. This was also true for the mysterious William Parcher who recruited and hired John to solve the patterns of the Soviet plot. Upon being committed to a psychiatric facility, Dr. Rosen, John therapist reveals that not only do Will and Charles not exist, but that there is also no Soviet plot and that it was all a fgment of John’s imagination.
John’s delusions is also exemplified through his belief that there is a Soviet plot and that he needs to solve it before anything can happen. He becomes increasingly agitated by the fact that no one believes him, which leads to more proof that he was only imagining these events. Another example is when Alicia visits him at the facility and he expresses the fact hat they need to be careful about what is being said because there might be microphones and cameras watching their every move.
This is an example of his belief that everyone in the facility is a Soviet agent who have locked him up to keep him from decoding the plot. Lastly, the use of antipsychotic medication and shock therapy to treat John are indications to a schizophrenic diagnosis. To conclude, a score of 50. 5 on the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale has been given to John. This is because although John shows signs of impairment to point of not being able to unction, he is still able to perform the tasks such decoding and solving patterns.
However, he is unable to perform the task of caring for his family on a daily basis and has become increasingly difficult to connect and have a conversation with. Additionally, John tends to have aggressive and sometime violent outbursts that have triggered panic attacks. He also presents with difficulty to have and keep friendships, although he is able to continue his friendship with Charles and Will. Lastly, he presents with obsessive rituals like his constant fidgeting and is incapable of keeping still.