Mental Illness in “A Beautiful Mind”

Ron Howard’s movie “A Beautiful Mind” starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly portrays the journey and the man behind the mental illness that Nobel Prize winner and Princeton intellectual John Nash develops late in his adulthood. The plight of the mentally ill is very well developed in this movie. The movie develops not only the struggle of the victim to overcome the shocking world of abstract and impending doom brought on by the illness, but focuses on the effects that the family of the victim suffer as well.

Through Nash’s relationship with his wife, viewers see how spouses desperately try to help their mates face reality, but the illness seems to be more overpowering than even the strongest most patient love. Nash’s wife was the ultimate support system, but even she had a breaking point; when Nash almost fatally injures his baby, his wife could no longer endure the illnesses’ debilitating effects. Having a strong support system is essential for someone suffering from a mental illness, and often, victims will find themselves alone or institutionalized because the illness is more than the sane can deal with.

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They can’t stand to see the person they love changed so dramatically that reality is so obscured. It is hard for anyone to put themselves in the place of the victim and be empathetic or sympathetic, especially when the disease gets so destructive that there is little left of the person who once occupied that body and mind. This movie did an excellent job at illustrating what supportive family and friends can do for a person suffering from mental illness, but does not mask the severity or the complexity of the disease or the complicity in dealing with it and helping a victim survive mental illness.

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