The Psychology of Schizophrenia
A Beautiful Mind is the story of how a mathematical genius, John Nash, overcomes a mental disability through the power of love. With any major psychological disorder, having a nonjudgmental caregiver who is unconditionally committed to facilitating normal functioning makes all the difference in the world.
This is also a story about how humans have the potential to solve problems, invent new ways to create change. What the brain holds are amazing powers and potentially devastating shortcomings. His life was blessed with the gift of genius and cursed with the horrors of insanity.
The genetic disorder paranoid schizophrenia sent him on a journey to the heights of intellectual achievement and to the depths of despair and back again. Average people suffering from mental disorders may feel defenseless against the cloud of darkness that has overtaken them.
The stigma and prejudice from those who don’t understand creates a prison cell in the sufferer's mind. Outsiders saw John’s emotional abnormalities as a disability. The painful stigma of social rejection drove him to isolation making him stand out rather that fit in. Sufferers may ask the same question John Nash did: “Why can’t I cure myself?”
Schizophrenia is a genetic disorder, which means nobody is to blame. The nightmare of the disorder is not knowing what is true. While struggling to create original theories worthy of publication he hallucinates, seeing and hearing things around him that are not real.
Accepting a Nobel Prize he says of his caregiver, “I’ve always believed in numbers. In the equations and logic that lead to reason but after a lifetime of such pursuits, I asked, what truly is logic? Who decides reasons? My quest has taken me through the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional, and back. And I have made the most important discovery of my career, the most important discover of my life. That, it is only in the mysterious equations of love, that any logical reason can be found. I am only here tonight because of my wife. She is the reason I am, she is all my reasons.”
The psychotic breaks included hearing voices from imaginary people telling him to do things that cause self-harm. The symptoms created alienation to all those around him turning his reality into a living nightmare. His confidence wanes as self-doubt, low self-esteem and depression derail his train of thought, leaving him to question his own credibility, fearing the judgments of his peers.
While struggling to come up with an original mathematical theory, in the highly competitive world of academia his thinking doesn't add up.
The experience leads to a divided mind, restless with the desire to achieve and conflicted with reasons to doubt. The experience led to several hospitalizations, anti-psychotic drugs and insulin shock therapy, numbing his thinking, paralyzing this ability to function, inhibiting his reaching his potential and destiny of greatness.
No one was to blame, but at times her steadfast support was wrought with frustration, anger, resentment and rage against him and God for the way she and their child were being treated however it is hope, guilt, obligation and love that kept her going. She helped him go through the five stages of coping with mental illness:
(1) comprehending, (2) managing, (3) belonging, (4) normalizing and (5) valuing himself with a guarded optimism. Eventually he ignored the voices, functioned without the drugs and gained empathy and respect from his peers, freeing him to use his gifts, leading him to worldwide recognition for his work.
"Perhaps it is good to have a beautiful mind, but an even greater gift is to discover a beautiful heart.”
- John Nash, Math Genius