Health Conditions/Diseases

Mental Illness and John Nash, Jr.

Written by Victoria Brewster, MSW

I am currently reading, “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar. Now I watched the movie with Russell Crowe many years ago and find myself comparing his character in the movie with the book. John Forbes Nash, Jr. is an American mathematician whose works in game theory, geometry, and partial differential equations have provided insight into the forces that govern chance and events inside complex systems in daily life. He went to school on scholarship at Princeton University and taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Soon after, he began showing signs of paranoid schizophrenia which included delusions and paranoia. He spent many years in and out of psychiatric hospitals, received insulin shock therapy and took antipsychotic medications. He recovered gradually with the passage of time. In 1994, he won the Noble Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Why does it seem some of the greatest minds in the world are touched by mental health issues?

“He was a singular little boy, solitary and introverted. The once-dominant view of the origins of the schizoid temperament was that abuse, neglect, or abandonment caused the child to give up the possibility of gratification from human relationships at a very early age. Johnny Nash certainly did not fit this now-discredited paradigm.”

He was a bright, curious little boy who read encyclopedia’s and science books and asked his father questions about his work for Appalachian Power Company. What caused him to become paranoid and delusional? Was this likely to happen because he was an introverted child who was not interested in socialization? How is it that many years later he slowly returned to ‘normal?’ He began to give lectures, become involved with his field of interest again.

“Queer little twists and quirks go into the making of an individual.
To suppress them all and follow clock and calendar and creed until the individual is lost
in the neutral gray of the host is to be less than
true to our inheritance…. Life, that gorgeous quality of life, is
not accomplished by following another man’s rules.

It is true we have
the same hungers and same thirsts, but they are for different things
and in different ways and in different seasons…. Lay down your own
day, follow it to its noon, your own noon, or you will sit in an outer
hall listening to the chimes but never reaching high enough to strike
your own.”

– Angelo Patri (from the book: A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar) This quote was one that John Nash’s mother kept in a scrapbook.

After reading Brain on Fire I question the diagnosis of schizophrenia for Mr. Nash and wonder was there something else going on, an infection of the brain that went untreated? Modern advances and technology allow for treatment, exams and tests that did not exist all those years ago. Can stress, lack of sleep and not enough rest cause one to become removed in a sense from reality? What are your thoughts?

First Posted at: http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/2013/01/12/mental-illness-and-john-nash-jr/

1 thought on “Mental Illness and John Nash, Jr.”

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