A Beautiful Mind: A Nursing Evaluation of Schizophrenia

The film “A Beautiful Mind” is a documentary that bases on John Forbes Nash, Jr’s life. The film depicts the treatment and symptoms of Paranoid Schizophrenia in which John Nash suffers. In the movie, John shows incidences of hallucinations (visual and auditory) and frequently describe interactions with imaginary individuals. In this article, an attempt to present a reflective case study is undertaken for the patient as portrayed in the film. When Nash (the patient) is treated for hallucinations, he shows certain negative responses to the drugs in which to overcome, he avoids them, and as a result, relapsing into his previous condition. Later, the patient mention taking “newer” drugs, which also assist him to differentiate between delusion and reality. As the film approaches the end, John is seen to have mastered his disorder and overcome it by learning to ignore the hallucinations (“A Beautiful Mind: Analyzing How Schizophrenia is Portrayed in Movies versus Reality | Disability in Media Review Blog”, 2017). This article outlines the alternative treatment and the recommendation for future health nursing practices. For instance, earlier detection and recognition of the symptoms can assist treat mental disorders such as Schizophrenia faster. The paper also attempts to explore the societal and medical issues revolving around this chronic and debilitating illness. In hopes of enlightening people about the available resources, the paper looks at the support and counseling groups accessible to individuals who have schizophrenia and their families.

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According to the film, the protagonist portrays the classic paranoid schizophrenia symptoms. He, John Nash, had schizophrenia that was only diagnosed at a later stage. In his college life at Princeton, Nash’s best friend and roommate was a person named Charles, who is then depicted to be one of his imaginary friends. As time progresses, his imaginations or hallucinations become more violent and frequent as he soon convinces himself that he is working for the US government on a top secret assignment in which nobody has access to, not even his wife. While teaching, he started missing classes, which resulted to him being summoned by a Psychiatrist who looked into his condition. Later, he concluded that the stay at the asylum was an attempt by the Soviet of trying to stop him from working with the government on his secret mission. At first, his wife failed to consent with the psychiatrist as she believed her husband’s story to be very real (“A Beautiful Mind: Analyzing How Schizophrenia is Portrayed in Movies versus Reality | Disability in Media Review Blog”, 2017). Later, she accepted the fact of her husband’s condition when she went to his college and discovered what he used to do during work. She also found magazines clippings attached all over the room and the unopened confidential envelopes, which were meant to be sent out to Mr. Parcher, the person who put John to the mission. The film attempt to show how John had to face reality when his imaginary world appeared so real to him. He, at last, confront his reality after the realization that Marcee, Charles’ niece, never became any older than when he first met her. With regular medication, John learns how to ignore his imaginary friends in his life and regain his old job back, at Princeton. In the end, he wins a Nobel Prize in Economic and lives a satisfactory life.

Early intervention and detection of the condition are the best approaches to treatment. However, patients with schizophrenia need to undergo extensive treatment. Enhancements and advancement made in treatment and the field of psychotherapy, intervention, nursing practices in mental health, medicine and societal awareness can effectively combat schizophrenia.

This disorder (paranoid schizophrenia) is among the numerous categories of schizophrenia that is chronic. Individuals suffering from this type of mental ailment usually have difficulties in interpreting reality in a normal way and are said to have Psychosis. More than 40 percent of schizophrenia reports are dominated by paranoid schizophrenia. The side effects of the disorder start to be noted at a later age (around 25 to 30). The most common symptoms exhibited by the patient of paranoid schizophrenia include delusions and hallucinations, which lack association with the reality. These are also referred to as the positive symptoms, which are detected easily. The capability to function and think in a healthy is distorted, and though the condition is a milder type of the ailment, it can result in long term ramifications accompanied with other complication such as suicidal behavior (McAuliffe, O’connor, & Meagher, 2014). A sense of grandiosity marks the onset of the illness, and this dominance is noted in the case of delusion and a persecution sense. At times, the beginning of the disorder is quite sudden, which can be coupled with deterioration in the physiological and mental condition of the patient in a rapid manner. On the other hand, the identification and recognition of the symptoms can be challenging for individuals with no prior exposure or experience with the condition. However, the perceptive friends and relatives can be able to spot a heightened state of nervous tension, anger, argumentative behavior, irritability, and jealousy. The negative symptom or the other forms of symptom is reduced emotions displayed by healthy individuals. For instance, when a person with hebephrenic schizophrenia laughs in a funeral. Also, the loss of energy and lack of interest in life is a more complex symptom to note, and at times, it can be confused with apathy or depression. However, with proper treatment and diagnosis, the patient can overcome the symptoms and live happily.

Nash’s treatment comprised majorly of the recommendation made by Dr. Rosen of insulin shock therapy that is a conventional approach to treating mental illness and currently is considered to be an antipsychotic drug and obsolete. The convulsive therapy and insulin coma therapy now have been replaced by antipsychotic medications, which portray less adverse effects and greater efficacy. Antipsychotic drugs are soothing medicines, which are utilized in the treatment of bipolar and schizophrenia disorder. Clozapine was the first generation of antipsychotic medications that acted on the neurotransmitter sites receptor, dopamine.

In the film, the symptoms exhibited by John Nash are very classic and distinct. The imaginations of Charles, his roommate and later that of the US government official, Mr. Parcher, as well as Marcee, depict that his ailment was spotted at a much-advanced phase where the paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis required to be symptomatically treated coupled with continued therapy and medication. However, Nash is put on some medications that are insulin shock therapy and antipsychotic drugs. He was also kept under constant supervision at the mental hospital in which he was confined. Some severe condition called for stricter measures in which he was bound and held in solitary confinement.

When these medicines are taken for a prolonged period, the common side effects include diabetes, weight gain, tremors, drowsiness, and spasms. Other symptoms such as tardive dyskinesia that cause twitching in the mouth region are also noted in some patients (Henriksen & Parnas, 2012). When these symptoms manifest as the patient takes medication, the intervention of the doctor should be sought. Patients with schizophrenia have to be in a life-long treatment for the condition.

In the film, the use of shock therapy is portrayed in the form of insulin shock therapy. Nash underwent this type of therapy 5 times in a week for 10 weeks. In this conventional mode of treatment, it was assumed that the convulsions were a method of schizophrenia occurrence prevention. Therefore, this approach of therapy was utilized on patients to prompt seizure while electroconvulsive as applied to protect the patient from personality disorders. However, currently, doctors administer anesthesia and various form of muscle-relaxants to make this therapy bearable.

Also, the patient is required to undergo behavioral therapy apart from the medical intervention such as social skills training to maintaining a healthy patient functioning in the society. Awareness and support programs need to be conducted for the patients and the family members. Community level support needs to be given to the caregiver for them to cope with the condition as well as relapse prevention.

The initial step in the prognosis and detection of the schizophrenic clinical condition as well as bipolar patients is through techniques such as magnetic resonance, brain’s CT scan, and other techniques of imaging, which can aid exclude possible misperception in the disease diagnosis. With the lack of any medical test, which can warn an individual of the onset or prevention of the disorder, the psychiatrist needs to carry out a thorough evaluation of the family background, as well as the genetic history of the patient’s family. The doctor also needs to consider the course the ailment has taken and the period in which the symptoms have been predominant, patient response to therapy and medication.



McAuliffe, R., O’connor, L., & Meagher, D. (2014). Parents’ experience of living with and caring for an adult son or daughter with schizophrenia at home in Ireland: a qualitative study. Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing21(2), 145-153.

Henriksen, M. G., & Parnas, J. (2012). Clinical manifestations of self-disorders and the Gestalt of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia bulletin38(4), 657-660.

A Beautiful Mind: Analyzing How Schizophrenia is Portrayed in Movies versus Reality | Disability in Media Review Blog. (2017). U.osu.edu. Retrieved 16 August 2017, from https://u.osu.edu/kovacevich.9/sample-page/