By Elmokthar Sleman (Slough)
I believe that the film: A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe was an accurate, realistic and fair representation of the battle that the great John Forbes Nash Jr. fought with the psychotic mental disorder paranoid schizophrenia that was simultaneously an emotional depiction of the excruciating struggles that one has to endure when diagnosed with this traumatic mental disorder. However, on the other hand, it also portrays the affection, warmth, and attachment between a couple whose love empowered the raw reality of what is schizophrenia, and as the great mathematician put it himself, verily: “It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logical reasons can be found”.
Furthermore, in his early stages as a student in Princeton, John the child genius from West Virginia came across as an individual who displayed early signs of an inability to interact with those around him, claiming that “he did not much like people and that they not much like him”. Combined with his unwelcoming, ego-centric and lonely nature it provided the perfect ingredients for his disorder to manifest. Additionally, it was also during this time that he genuinely believed to have shared a room with his so called friend Charles that we later learn to be something of the fantasy demonstrating some of the positive symptoms of the disorder.
Moreover, John was also an individual who had a vision; a vision of himself as one of greatness that was to take the mathematical world by storm. He became fixated and obsessed with a plea of coming up with something original, something no one else could come up with. Fuelled with his eagerness and desire to become recognised as one of those world renounced intellectual gems, it was no surprise when John presented his ground-breaking ‘game theory’ which was to have a drastic impact in the world of economics and which consequently landed him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
Living in this world of fairy tale, John soon met the love of his life, a student under him at the time by the name of Alicia who was the reason for his being as he stated and who was to subsequently form an integral and peripheral part of his battle with schizophrenia. However, John being John, a man that was forever voyaging through strange seas of thought alone, it took quite a while to let his guard down and truly become one with his emotions for Alicia, bearing in mind that he was a man of numbers, a man of facts and figures and a man who could not associate numbers to love. Essentially he was a man with no emotions, a condition known as ‘affective flattening’ which is a negative symptom of schizophrenia. Fortunately for him he was able to break this psychological barrier and it was not long before he married Alicia, consummated his marriage and got a son.
Unfortunately, it was after this period that things started to take a turn for the worst as John’s mind started taking control and his symptoms really severed. This is because his obsession for patterns and his internal drive to become a true great caused him to think that he was conducting classified work in light of his countries defence to ultimately detonate a bomb that the Russians were working on by deciphering codes and sending them to the military. His working colleagues started to notice his agitation and paranoia and it was not long until Dr. Rosen (the psychiatrist) confronted John with the bitter reality that he was in fact a schizophrenic.
Followed by insulin shock therapy and strict doses of medication, John managed to get some normality back into his life but his love for mathematics and his drive to feed his emotional appetite meant that he was having relapses of delusions of his friend Charles and his niece Marcee as well as Parcher, the main culprit who made John believe that he was working for the intelligence services. In a wake to attain some consistency in his life, John returned to Princeton where he went to classes and eventually took up a teaching role. At the same time, John was ridiculed and humiliated by other University students for his rare and abnormal behavior. However, it was the perseverance of himself and his long-life soulmate; Alicia that enabled him to break free from the clutches of schizophrenia and realise his ambition of being recognised as a true phenomenon in the field of mathematics.
In conclusion, this was a man that under no circumstances was going to give into the adversities of life. Despite coming from an impoverished background he defeated all the odds to reach true greatness and achieve a long life ambition that stems from his cry of originality. Despite being diagnosed with a disease that has a prevalence rate of 1% and is in itself rare, he fought this rarity and triumphed. Indeed, this is a story of love, a story of blood, sweat and tears, a story of commitment and dedication but it is the story of the great John Forbes Nash Jr. who shall forever be remembered for his contributions to humanity. Rest in peace.