The movie written by Akiva Goldsman and directed by Ron Howard entitled “A Beautiful Mind” is a commendable example relating the experiences of a schizophrenic and the people surrounding him, especially because it is based on a true-life experience. Russell Crowe is playing John Forbes Nash, Jr. in this story. Nash was the 1994 Nobel Prize winner in Economics. Throughout the film, the audience learns about the experiences including the challenges of schizophrenics and the people surrounding them. In this scenario, the audience learns about the experiences of Nash, his wife Alicia Larde and their child. The story revolves around Nash’s struggle with his social life and perfecting his mathematical skills and ability at Princeton University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a student and a teacher respectively; his delusions and hallucinations as a secret government agent being followed by another government secret agent and the challenges of keeping his family stable.
The Nash character accurately exhibits the symptoms of the mental health disorder as may occur in many patients suffering from schizophrenia. Although it is not quite clear where are the hallucinations and delusions that relate with schizophrenia diagnosis, it becomes quite apparent as the movie continues. However, some symptoms are quite apparent from the beginning. The movie begins with Nash’s admission into Princeton University. He is told that he will have a single room, but he meets another student named Charles Herman in his room. Herman eventually becomes Nash’s best friend as he becomes the bridge between himself and his social life. However, it is not quite clear whether Herman is a real student or a hallucination. As he opens up to Herman, Nash admits that is “better with numbers that he is with people”.
Placing more emphasis on the social aspect of a schizophrenic, Nash comes out bluntly when asking the ladies for company. Instead of using the usual processes that engage dating a lady before having sex with her, Nash suggests her to skip the “buying of drinks” and just go to bed since dating is a man’s means of getting what he wants. Jumping the “steps” and sleeping with the boy would save both parties time, money and the unnecessary energy. After he finishes his suggestion, the lady slaps him on the cheek. Although he is able to develop an original thesis for his college paper from this experience, the audience sees some clear signs of anti-social behavior or social difficulty as evident with schizophrenics. He also establishes an awkward or uncomfortable relationship between the other students named Martin Hansen, Bender, Ainsley and Richard Sol. Sometimes he is not sure whether he should speak or keep quiet. At other times, he speaks out rightly when discretion is needed.
As the movie heightens, the character becomes closer to his hallucinations as opposed to the reality. The main reason may be that he is not sure that he is hallucinating. His obsession with the secret government agent, Herman, Herman’s niece and rooms filled with people who are trying to decode the messages sent during the war continue to manifest itself in the movie. The character also refuses to take anti-psychotic medications after his wife and other close people want him to realize that he has a problem. This is another common problem with schizophrenics. They take long to accept that the people and the strange voices that are only apparent to them are in their heads. After refusing to take the anti-psychotic drugs, Nash almost drowned his child in a baby bath tub after he left the water running in order to chase someone outside who happened to be a hallucination. His wife got home in time to save the baby.
As I watched the movie, I sympathized with the character as I continued to see his great need for medical attention. The worst part of the movie was seeing the ridicule that emerged from his friends since they did not understand his condition and his own lack of understanding of his state of mind. For example, the man with a black hat that he saw when he went to the Pentagon to solve the coded information was one of his main hallucination figures. Since this man was a mystery to him, when he first saw him at the Pentagon, Nash did not know that it was likely that his mind would bring him as a hallucination in order to understand the mystery of the man with a hat even better. When he visits Princeton after graduating, he meets Herman, his old friend. Once more, Nash did not know that his visits to old places may trigger hallucinations that are associated with his experiences in these places. This is why Nash meets Herman, who turns out to be a hallucination. Herman is a representation of the life Nash never had. Herman had a jovial, social and care-free personality. He intrigued the bright side of campus life in Nash. After he accepts medication, Nash starts recovering as is evident in normal cases. The character clearly shows this recovery by realizing that his hallucinations never grow old. Additionally, he starts getting his normal life on track by teaching classes regularly and interacting more with his students. He also asks for assistance when he meets new people. This is to make sure that he does not confuse a new person with a hallucination or the other way round.
One NANDA diagnosis is in the activity/rest domain (“NANDA”, 2012). The symptoms include disturbed energy field, wandering, activity intolerance and insomnia. Schizophrenics do not do well with inconsistent patterns. Like patients suffering from split personality, they may either sleep for long or incur sleep deprivation. They may also present a lot of hyperactivity especially when focused on a given task. For example, when he was still a student, Nash would spend long hours writing mathematical formulas on the windows of his room. He also seemed uncomfortable at all times, especially with people around him. These symptoms can be treated by introducing consistent patterns. For example, the patient should maintain a consistent sleeping and waking time regardless of the day or the activities to be carried out during that day. Additionally, he/she should stick to a given work/activity schedule in order to stabilize the energy field. The diet is also relevant. The patient should not eat foods or food substances that invoke high energy levels (Fontaine, 2003). The patient should control the amount of carbohydrate and sugar level s that he/she is to consume.
There other diagnosis aligns with domain five which relates to perception/cognition (“NANDA”, 2012). Some symptoms include acute confusion, chronic confusion, acute confusion risk, enhanced knowledge readiness, impaired verbal communication, and impaired environmental interpretation syndrome, amongst others. Nash manifested a state of confusion due to the constant drift between the reality and hallucinations, as it is the case of many patients. The impaired environmental interpretation syndrome almost made him to kill his own child. These symptoms can be treated by medication and therapy that is necessary for the patient and the people who surround the patient (Neeb, 2006). The home caregivers can only be taught about how to handle the patient when he goes to a new environment or when he shows signs of being confused.
Stress tolerance/coping is another domain in NANDA diagnosis list (“NANDA Diagnosis”, 2012). The symptoms include anxiety, ineffective activity planning, compromised family coping, ineffective community coping, stress overload, impaired individual resilience, and compromised resilience risk, and enhanced resilience readiness, amongst others. Although these symptoms may be treated by medication, therapy is the most effective. The patients are advised on ways of dealing with the stress-causing agent. For example, the presence of the unknown triggered the hallucinations in Nash’s scenario. His main hallucination was the presence of a secret government agent. Putting more concentration on his work and his family, thus doing less of the unknown, is a good therapeutic treatment to such symptoms (Fortinash & Holoday-Worret, 2004).
The film can be used to assist the schizophrenic patients in dealing with their diagnosis. For example, when Nash finally accepts his diagnosis, he is able to deal with his condition in a better way. He takes his medication as advised by the doctor. Additionally, he is able to have a stable family, something that motivates the patients to take their medication (Fontaine, 2003). Additionally, he is able to ask for assistance when needed. For example, he asks a student whether the new person is real or a hallucination. He is also able to cope with the hallucinations. For example, he stops talking to them. For the family members, this film allows this group to understand and live coherently with such patients. For example, his wife understood when to talk to Nash and when to call a doctor in order to cope with him. Sometimes patients are unpredictable and so the family members should be patient with them. They might be embarrassing especially when they start talking to invisible people (“Quality of life”, 2009). For the doctors and other medical practitioners, the movie enables them to understand ways of handling a patient especially when they become difficult. It is one thing to know which medication to give as learned in medical or nursing school, but it is another thing to make sure that the patient is taking the medication (Neeb, 2006). There is a scene where Nash has a conversation between the doctor and the hallucination. While the doctor convinces the patient to take his medication, the secret service agent convinces Nash that taking the medication would take away his ability to crack codes. Finally, the doctor asks Nash to evaluate the credibility of the hallucination. That is when he realizes that they never go old.