When I was thinking about which movie I could watch in order to relate the film to the information we have covered this semester I instantly remembered the movie, A beautiful mind. In my high school psychology class we had to watch the movie in order to get a better understanding of mental illness. If there was ever a movie that I remembered most in high school, it was absolutely that one. The movie spent the majority of the time showing what seemed to be an extremely hard working, intelligent man who was on the way to discovering something that no one else had ever done before. He clearly was intelligent as he attended Princeton University and later became a Professor. Nash (the main character) spends much of his time trying to crack codes from about anything he can find such as magazines and newspapers. After a bit of time, Nash begins to think people were out to get him and he believed foreign spies were trying to tell him something. He spent so much time working on this “work” that he never realized what was actually going on around him. Nash accidentally left his baby alone in a bath tub, because he thought his friend had been watching him, however his friend, was not real.
I thought this movie was perfect for the information we learned and read from week two. schizophrenia is an extremely severe mental disorder, and it is extremely hard to understand and reason with someone dealing with this because they are so intent in their actions, as Nash was from the video. Throughout the whole video they don’t tell you that everything he is doing is pure craziness, and in reality it was all fake, it was all made up in his mind. The whole movie, I thought it was all real and I believe the spies were real and it was all just as realistic and he did, until the end where they walked out and showed his shed in the backyard, which was just a complete disaster. Similar to the Hemed from the readings in week two, he would come home and insist he was at some important political meetings, and he would speak as if someone else was in the room with them. Nash also believed he was working with the government, and believed his work to be very important. Nash wasn’t always violent, but there were a few times where he believed someone was telling him to kill his wife, his imaginary friend told him to kill his wife, but he told him no. Hemed seemed to be more violent than Nash, but this is also similar in the sense Amnia (his wife) stated he would come home from these meetings and threaten his children and even beat his mother. (McGruder 2003). This movie was interesting the way they set it up, I thought it was really smart to wait until the end to let us know the whole thing was fake, because in a sense it somewhat gave us an understanding of how it felt for Nash. We thought the whole thing was true, until the very end when Nash was hospitalized, which is similar to how he must have felt. Fortunately, Nash was hospitalized and given medicine as Hemed and Kimwana was also, although Kimwana was sure it was anti malaria medication rather than antipsychotic medicine. After Nash is hospitalized, and treated he was able to carry on with normal life and he actually went back to teaching.
Throughout the movie, Nash finally realizes that not only his friend is made up in his mind, but so is his wife. He finally realized that after all the time they had “together” she had never aged, she continued to look exactly the same. This is when Nash realized he had to say goodbye to the people he had made up in his mind, these people were large parts of his life, however they were not real. When he began taking his medicine, he was able to return back to his “normal” life, and he was able to escape his visions and vivid imagination.
As we learned in the book, The Spirit Catches you and and you Fall down, there are many people who would prefer to work on their health in a natural or spiritual method. As we learned the Hmongs would prefer to visit a natural healer rather than take medicine. The Hmong men and women may suggest Nash had wandering spirits, and he would have to visit the Shaman in order to get their mental health back to normal (Fadiman 1997). I think this would be a great video to mix into the course, we saw a video about how the Hmong men and women attempt to heal people in their culture, I think it would be interesting to add this as well as some sort of video explaining ways in which the Hmong could heal or attempt to heal someone with this severe of a mental illness. Those who take medication tend to relapse if they do not take their medication and some point, and they are often unable to cure people in the US if they never take medicine. It would be interesting to hear how other cultures would handle this intense of an illness. Whether this video was added to the semester to compare and contrast other the different healing processes or not, I think it is a very informative video and helps many to understand how severe mental illness is.
McGruder, Juli. Madness in Zanzibar: An exploration of Lived Experience. New York City: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Howard, Ron. A Beautiful Mind. DVD. Directed by Russel Crowe. 2001. , 2001.
Fadiman, Anne. The spirit catches you and you fall down. New York City: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1997.