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Ron Howard's, A Beautiful Mind Essay

1081 words - 4 pages

In Ron Howard's work, A Beautiful Mind, depicts the real life account of Professor John Nash and his struggle with paranoid Schizophrenia. The topic of mental illness has become popularized as of late, particularly in popular media (film, television). This focus on mental disorders has greatly improved awareness of mental disorders, but this media has become a double edged sword. The same process that educates people (ie these films and shows) can also disseminate largely false or misleading information. In the film, both sides of this information distribution phenomena are expressed. To evaluate the effectiveness of the movie to accurately describe the occurrence of paranoid Schizophrenia one must look at the accuracy of the onset, symptoms, and the treatment given to Dr. Nash.
The first area that must be analyzed in the assessment of the accuracy of paranoid Schizophrenia as shown in A Beautiful Mind is the onset and early development of symptoms. The onset of the disease has many factors to be evaluated. First, the age of onset, for Nash, is presumed to be early twenties (ie when he would be in graduate school). This age is in line with the current understanding of Schizophrenia. The age of onset is usually between late teens to early adulthood (although it can start later) which would be exactly the time which the film depicted Nash as first experiencing symptoms. Although it still falls in line with the diagnostic criteria of Schizophrenia, it is important to note that the hallucinations that Nash experienced started occurring after he had graduated graduate school. The onset of symptoms also falls in line with a great increase in stress in his environment (joining graduate school and the quest for the "unifying theory"), which is widely recognized as being a strong precursor for development of symptoms. A second area that needs to be evaluated is the early development of symptoms. Seeing as Nash's experiences in the film follow the Type II diagnosis (DSM-IV-TR) one could reasonably expect that his symptoms would follow in the same diagnostic pattern. But, instead of coming on slowly and consistently, these auditory and visual hallucinations come on acutely (actually almost immediately). This extremely acute onset of serious symptoms is out of line with what should be occurring. What should be shown is slowly deteriorating symptoms that are in line with increasingly complex delusions. The onset of delusions after the hallucinations is also outside the norm of the differential of Schizophrenia, although not impossible.
The second depicted area that needs to be inspected is the range of symptoms expressed in the film. There are three areas of symptoms that need to be checked for accuracy. First, the most easily identifiable by the viewing audience, are the visual hallucinations that he experiences. There are several inconsistencies between those symptoms that he experiences and those that Nash suffered. The first inconsistency that occurs...

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