The story of John Forbes Nash depicted in the film “A Beautiful Mind” presents a condition identified as paranoid schizophrenia. In the film acted by Russell Crowe, and in Nash’s real life, the symptoms embodied for the disease have a consistency in the sense that the patient shows auditory variety hallucinations and perceptual disturbances. The film released in the United States in December 21, 2001 has captured the imagination of many fans, particularly by its peculiar depiction of the life of John Nash as a brilliant mathematician but occasionally delusional character. Both the film and real-life accounts do not accurately depict the exact causes of Nash’s condition, but there is common agreement that most mental illnesses are the direct result of imbalances of certain chemicals of the brain matter. It presents a subtle conclusion among many fans that great intellectual endowment often should accompany some mental illness, which is not the case. There are critical disparities between the film portrayal of Nash and the reality of the conditions manifested by Nash’s schizophrenic spectrum illness because films often seek to capture certain thematic orientations and idealized versions of mental illness, and the reality is starkly different. 

Altruism: The Life of John Nash

            John Nash, born in June 1928, Nash grew up to be a respected senior research mathematician and the prestigious Princeton University. In 1959, he started showing very schizophrenic tendencies very prominently and was admitted for treatment for a long span of time. After 1970, his condition gained stability, which later allowed him to return to work in the 1980s. The onset of Nash’s problem was noticed at a lecture event in 1959 in which the don clearly could not proceed to yield to the audiences’ expectations. After admission to the hospital, Nash was administered insulin shock therapy and a number of other antipsychotic medicines (Ainun, 2019). Although the term paranoid schizophrenia is no longer in use as a broad category, recollections of Nash’s life and the wife’s account confirm vivid orientation into erratic acts rather than steady paranoia. Nash admitted that he only took medication under compulsion and never dedicated himself to the medical prescriptions after 1970. The delusions expressed by Nash embodied seeing himself as a messenger and showing the deterrence of opponents and possible supporters. 

Film Portrayal of Nash’s Mental Illness

             In the film “A Beautiful Mind,” an adaptation of the book by Sylvia Nasar with the same title, there is a considerable effort to capture Nash’s real essence and to depict the mental illness as elaborately and as accurately as possible. However, there are significant disparities in the sense Nash admitted that most of the medication administered did not help him. Most of the adverse systems experienced because of the drug were not ideally related to his condition as it occurred at the onset. Nash also admitted gradually recovering from his condition after ignoring most of the medicines and did not follow a steady commitment to the prescription (Taufiq & Wiranita, 2018). Nash admitted that the film implied he got better because of the medicines, and in reality, the new atypical antipsychotics did not offer him substantial relief.

In the film, Nash is portrayed as the genius who is self-absorbed, and the typical themes of tragedy, loss, and isolation recur, which Nash did not acknowledge. Although the “mad scientist” cannot experience both happiness and normalcy, Nash gets the sentimentalized “happy ending” through medication in the film. In reality, the scientist did not like the medication and only gradually recovered after time without the aid of psychotic medicines. The film is often made with the audience in mind, and reality is warped in the process of creating a great film (Robinson, 2018). The idealized schizophrenic patient in film embodies many fabrications to suit market and society expectations. Yet, schizophrenic patients are real individuals struggling with a multitude of realistic concerns in their lives, which film cannot capture.  

The manner in which Nash was able to suppress the symptomatic manifestations of his condition in real life is a recognition that he was possessed of higher than average executive function, which is akin to genius (Taufiq & Wiranita, 2018). There is a body of knowledge seeking to link expressly genius or high intellectual ability with mental illness, and several individuals and research confirm the existence of some counterfactual connection. The story of Nash in the film “A Beautiful Mind” is in altruism different considerably with the reality of his total experience as a patient who could not bow to an illness devouring his mental composure.  All mental conditions are unique in how they affect the victim, and Nash is not an exception because after recovery. The fine details of the visions and delusional experiences witnessed by patients are sometimes not very well understood or interpreted by the public or observers.     

            In conclusion, the film has several omissions about the reality and the altruism of schizophrenic conditions and creates the illusion that drugs are the best remedy to mental illness. Contrarily, Nash himself made a critique of the film depicting medication as a rather extreme option to recovery and adjustment. The film liberal arts have the inclination to entertain and to educate in sentimental terms, but this tends to kill the altruism and reality in practical human conditions and lives. A beautiful mind depicts a mad genius, but Nash feels he was sick and facilitated his healing, which brought him back to full professional growth and academic limelight.   


Ainun, I. (2019). An Analysis of Characterization of John Forbes Nash in the Novel of “A            Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar (Doctoral dissertation, STKIP PGRI SIDOARJO).

Robinson, C. (2018). Portrayals of the “Mad Genius” Trope in Shelley’s Frankenstein and A        Beautiful Mind. Madness, 86.

Taufiq, T., & Wiranita, M. H. N. (2018). Psychoanalysis in the movie entitled “a beautiful mind”            by Ron Howard. TEROB9(2), 56-63.