I watched this movie in my early twenties, and remember enjoying it very much, even though back then, I had very little knowledge of mental illnesses, despite taking two psychology courses in high school. It was exciting to see it again recently, even though I knew of how the story would unravel in the end.
*Please note, if you haven’t watched the film yet, and don’t know much about it, this will be a spoiler!
The film is based on a true story, about a famous mathematician, John Nash and his struggles with schizophrenia. As a graduate student at Princeton in 1948, he spent most of his time trying to find a mathematical theorem that would be completely original. He wasn’t much of a social-person, but became good friends with his roommate, Charles. Nash becomes a professor at MIT where despite having difficulty teaching his class, he meets and marries one of his graduate student, Alicia.
Over time Nash begins to lose his grip on reality and in their second year of marriage, Alicia sends him to a mental hospital where he is diagnosed with schizophrenia and for nine years, Nash spends time in psychiatric hospitals.
When I watched the film, I was inspired at Nash’s determination to continue his goal, at the same time, I also was even more inspired by Alicia’s determination, royalty and support to help Nash through the struggles. In the movie, they remain married even though Alicia comes close to leaving him. In reality, they divorced in 1963.
In the 1970s he gradually makes his way back to research and teaching while living in Alicia’s home.
An interesting note is that according to Nash, the film inaccurately showed him taking new atypical antipsychotics during this period. He explains that the mother of the screenwriter who was a psychiatrist was concerned about encouraging people with schizophrenia to not take their medication. However, others have questioned whether this was a coverup for whether this disorder can really be ‘solved’ with such drugs.
Nash has said they are overrated and that the side effects are not given enough consideration for those who are suffering from mental disorders. According to the author of the book, Nash recovered gradually with time.
In 1994, John Nash was awarded the Nobel prize in Economics. Nash and Alicia resumed their romantic relationship and were remarried in 2001.
This film, and the life of John Nash proves to show that even those with disabilities, can achieve much greatness. It’s a must see film!