A Beautiful Mind
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for A Beautiful Mind can be found here.

Briliant mathematics student John Forbes Nash, Jr. (Russell Crowe) attains the rank of professor at Cambridge University, however his antisocial behavior makes him seem a bit strange and distant at first until it becomes apparent to everyone that he is mentally disturbed. He begins to experience visual hallucinations and to suffer from delusions involving him in a governmental conspiracy plot. When he grows more and more paranoid, he is forcibly placed in a mental hospital and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. After undergoing weeks of shock therapy, he is discharged into the care of his wife Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), who is instrumental in helping him get back his mental acuity and his status at the University, such that Nash is offered the 1994 Nobel Prize for Economics.

A Beautiful Mind (1998) is a Pulitzer prize-winning book by German author Sylvia Nasar. The book is a biography of Nobel prize-winning mathematician and economist, John Forbes Nash, Jr., and his struggle with paranoid schizophrenia. The book was adapted for the movie by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. The movie won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder often characterized by abnormal thinking, hallucinations, delusions, and social withdrawal. In the paranoid form of schizophrenia, the affected person believes that they are being persecuted. Although the word schizophrenia comes from two Greeks words, schizein meaning "to split" and phren meaning "mind", schizophrenia is NOT a form of split personality, as it is popularly believed. The cause(s) of schizophrenia are not yet fully known. Some forms of schizophrenia appear to have a genetic basis, and increased amounts of dopamine in the brains of schizophrenic individuals has also been documented. Modern treatment involves a combination of antipsychotic medications and psychotherapy. "Shock" therapy may still be used in emergency situations or for severe depression.

Part of Nash's treatment for his schizophrenia included a course of "shock" therapy, five times a week for 10 weeks. A description of how and why "shock" therapy works would be too detailed and graphic for a simple QA on an IMDb FAQ page. Suffice to say that, in the early part of the 20th century, it was noted that epileptics who suffered from convulsions rarely suffered from schizophrenia. The thought was that the convulsions were protective. Consequently, many forms of inducing convulsions were tried, e.g., with insulin (as in Nash's case), but electroconvulsive therapy appeared to be the safest and most controllable way to induce convulsions, and the results were often dramatic. Today, the use of anesthesia and muscle-relaxants makes shock therapy a lot less frightening than in its earlier days.

In the movie, faculty members ritualistically give their pens to John Nash (Russell Crowe) in honor of his outstanding accomplishment(s). A lovely gesture but one totally made up for the movie. This is from Princeton University's FAQ about John Nash: The scene in the movie "A Beautiful Mind" in which mathematics professors ritualistically present pens to Nash was completely fabricated in Hollywood. No such custom exists. What it symbolizes is that Nash was accepted and recognized in the mathematics community for his accomplishments.

Yes. Princeton University has made a copy of Nash's original dissertation, Non-cooperative Games (1950), available here.

John Nash went off his medications because they affected his ability to think, to reason, and to do his work. After a short period of time, he slipped back into his hallucinations and delusions. Rather than be committed to the mental hospital again, he chose to reason his way through his affliction. He said goodbye to his delusional friends, Parcher (Ed Harris), Charles (Paul Bettany), and Marcee (Vivien Cardone). After that, he simply refused to acknowledge their presence when they did pop up. Whenever he was confronted by someone he didn't know, he asked someone else whether or not they could see that person. He took his lunch outside to eat alone rather than have to interact with other people. Eventually, he was able to resume teaching classes. One day, coming out of class, he is approached by an unknown man (who turns out to be real) who informs him that he has been nominated for the Nobel prize in Ecomonics for his work in game theory. They go to the faculty dining room for tea, someplace that Nash hasn't been for years. As Nash and the man talk, the other faculty members start walking over one by one and laying their pens in front of him. In the final scenes, John and Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) are in Stockholm where he is presented with the1994 Nobel prize. As he and Alicia leave the auditorium, John sees Parcher, Charles, and Marcee standing there. Alicia asks him what's wrong. "Nothing," is his reply. "Nothing at all."

The delusions were made up for the movie in order to capture the spirit of his real psychosis. Nash's schizophrenia didn't truly develop until the 1960s, after he had graduated from Princeton and married Alicia Nash. In his biography, it says Nash does not recall seeing any visual hallucinations but heard voices that mocked and argued with him constantly. At times, Nash thought the voices were coming from aliens or angels. At the height of his madness, Nash believed that aliens were sending him encrypted messages through the New York Times and that any man wearing a red necktie was a member of a secret international communist organization. He claimed to colleagues that he was the Pope as well as the emperor of Antarctica. He feared that the government was working with extraterrestrials to destroy his reputation. At some point, he developed a messianic complex and thought he was on a holy mission to come up with a mystical number that would prove the existence of God.

No. In reality, Nash was involved with another woman and had fathered a son out of wedlock with her prior to meeting Alicia. They did marry and have a son together, but his illness drove them apart. Unlike in the movie, Nash deeply resented Alicia for having him involuntarily committed. Upon his release, Nash withdrew from her emotionally and sexually. After three years of enduring his mania, Alicia divorced Nash in 1962 and began a new relationship with another man. She continued to help and support Nash as a friend rather than as a wife. She even let him stay in her home to keep Nash from becoming homeless but thought of him as a boarder. They lived separate lives under the same roof. Their romantic relationship was only restarted after Nash won the Nobel Prize. She remarried him in 2001, well after his mental illness had already subsided.

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