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The Ethics Of "A Beautiful Mind"

3634 words - 15 pages

IntroductionBy examining the basic content sketch of the movie, A Beautiful Mind, and actual events that occurred in John Nash's life, many ethical concerns will be addressed. Movies like A Beautiful Mind create and amplify many ethical concerns relating to the portrayal of mental illnesses and how society views them. The identity of the ethical concerns exposed in a popular media event, the ethical dilemmas presented and an ethical theory that is used to address public concerns when a major form of entertainment is used to misinform and the values exposed in an art form using distortion for entertainment are all ethical concerns that occur within this film, and through other entertainments. The concern lies in the social responsibility that is ethically addressed for moving making and then finally the ethical steps that should be taken and the overall conclusions about these ethical concerns.Depiction of Mentally Ill CharactersIn entertainment, mental illness is rarely treated as a medical condition. Instead, people who have medical disabilities are usually portrayed as serial killers, psychopaths, or as objects of amusement or pity such as Norman Bates in Psycho, Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs, Bobby Bouchet in The Waterboy or John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. Unfortunately, under the guise of "entertainment" the diagnosis and treatment of people with a mental disability has become misconstrued and downplayed. The other characters that interact with the person react in terrifying fear, malicious treatment, or unyielding support.Mental illness is a legitimate medical condition often requiring intense treatment to control. When treatment is shown, is muted, and downplayed. In the examples above, Norman Bates, Hannibal Lector and John Nash were forcibly restrained in mental institutions. The final scene from Psycho shows him sitting in a padded room wearing a straight jacket. Hannibal Lector is behind one inch thick glass for most of the movie. Actual treatment of either character is not shown. In A Beautiful Mind, John Nash is briefly shown receiving chemical shock therapy and medication. The visualization of these illnesses and other characters' illnesses and treatment creates false images of what mental illness truly is or how disabling an illness it can be.Public ReactionsA common misconception propagated by entertainment is schizophrenia and multiple disassociation disorder are synonymous terms for the same disorder (The Western Journal of Medicine, 2001). These illnesses are two separate disorders with schizophrenia being the inability to differentiate between reality and fantasy. Multiple disassociation disorder is the personification of multiple personalities within a single person. Another problem is the reaction by average citizens to people diagnosed with schizophrenia. A schizophrenic man fired weapons inside the United States Capitol building. Laurie Flynn, executive director for the National Associates for the Mentally Ill,...

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