Mental Health in Cinema Diagnosis and Evaluation

Mental Health in Cinema Diagnosis and Evaluation

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Mental Health in Cinema Diagnosis and Evaluation

Part 1: Movie Summary and Character Introduction

A Beautiful Mind drama based on the life of John Nash, an American mathematician. Writer Akiva Goldsman and director Ron Howard were instrumental in the development of the film that is biographical in nature. Nash is an acknowledged tutor for mathematics at Princeton University. He aims to achieve impressive outcomes from his operations, particularly with regard to establishing a name for himself within the learning facility (Howard, 2001). His high ambitions lead him to publish an article that earns him a place at the glorified Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (Howard, 2001). He secures a working opportunity at the Pentagon and later at the U.S. Department of Defense where he is charged with the task of finding hidden trends and datasets in print publications, especially newspapers and magazines to suppress any attack missions by the Soviet. The task attracts Nash attention and focus so much that he develops a health complication that makes him feel that some people trace him because of his engagement with the highly confidential task (Howard, 2001). It is while offering a speech at Harvard University that Nash gets to see false images that he thinks are people who trace him because of his job. He at one time develops a false impression that he is part of a shootout between American and Soviet forces, which prompts Dr. Rosen, a psychiatrist, to forcibly sedate him and admit him in a psychiatric facility (Howard, 2001). He receives relevant treatment but fails to adhere to the treatment plan, which affects his condition. Upon making the diagnosis and confirming that Nash suffers from schizophrenia, Dr. Rosen takes the patient through insulin shock therapy. He seeks alternative intervention, which he follows keenly, and chooses to avoid any misleading perceptions.

Part 2: Signs and Symptoms of Mental Disorder

Schizophrenia is part of the schizophrenia spectrum that comprises of other psychotic disorders such as schizotypal (personality) disorder and psychotic disorders. They are characterized by abnormalities in one or more of five key areas; negative symptoms, abnormal motor or grossly disorganized behavior, distorted thinking and speech, hallucinations, and delusions (Rasool et al., 2019). Experiencing delusions due to due to schizophrenia cause someone to experience fixed perceptions that are not subject to change in accordance with contradicting evidence. Their content may encompass a different themes, such as grandiose, religious, referential, persecutory, and somatic. People encounter different forms of delusions. In Nash’s case, he seems to be experiencing nihilistic delusions, which entail the conviction that a serious catastrophe will happen (Howard, 2001). The protagonist could also be experiencing referential delusion, which is associated with the perception that particular environmental indicators, comments, or gestures are directed towards a specific individual. Nash sometimes feel that the actions or gestures by some people is directed towards him, which make him to withdraw from the rest in fear. Nash’s case is neither an incident of grandiose delusion, which is when a person thinks that he has supernatural abilities nor somatic delusions, which focus on preoccupations concerning organ functions and overall health (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). In addition to delusions, a person like Nash suffering from schizophrenia is likely to encounter other adverse effects associated with the condition. Nash, for example, sometimes, especially during his hospitalization, experiences severely disorganized or abnormal motor behaviors that may emerge in various aspects, ranging from unpredictable anger to childlike acts (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Problems may be identified in any aspect of objective-directed behaviors, resulting in hardships in conducting operations of daily living.

Nash exhibits other symptoms because of his condition. Sometimes, the leading character displays reduced emotional expression, which make him to have reductions in eye contact, facial expressions, change in speech intonation, and hand and head movements. Diminished emotional expression affects how the protagonist expresses his points, especially when interacting with others. Nash also exhibits signs of avolition because of his condition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Avolition is associated with decreased self-motivation, which renders Nash unable to engage in purposeful initiatives. The condition makes Nash to sit for long periods of time and display little desire in engaging in social practices or meaningful work. Nash also experiences alogia, anhedonia, and asociality because of his condition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Alogia is depicted by reduced speech output while anhedonia is the reduced capacity to encounter pleasure from beneficial stimuli or a depreciation in the remembrance of pleasure previously encountered. Asociality, on the other hand, means the evident lack of desire in social engagements and may be related with avolition, but can also be an expression of constrained opportunities for social engagement (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Another effect of the psychiatric disease on Nash is expressing catatonic behavior, which is associated with reduced responsiveness to the environment. Sometimes, within and outside the hospital setting, Nash exhibits catalonic behavior, which is marked with reduction in response to the environment. The behavior is associated with negativism or resistance to instructions as well as with upholding an unwavering, strange, or inappropriate posture, to an entire absence of motor and verbal reactions, through a mechanism known as mutism and stupor (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The catalonic behavior that Nash exhibits is also related excessive and meaningless motor activities without obvious causes, or what is known as catalonic excitement. Other features that Nash displays because of his condition, include continuous stereotyped actions, gazing, quietness, and frowning. All the identified features are symptoms of schizophrenia that the leading character suffers from in the film.

Part 3: Diagnosis

Dr. Rosen’s diagnosis that Nash suffers from schizophrenia agrees with my diagnosis. The psychiatrist monitors two or more of various factors, each evident for a substantial amount of time within thirty days of less if appropriately mitigated. At least one of the recorded features were delusions, hallucinations, disoriented speech such as incoherence and constant derailment, catatonic or severely disorganized behavior, or negative symptom, that is avolition or reduced emotional expressions (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). I concur with the diagnosis in the film because the intervening practitioner considers that for a substantial amount of time since the start of the disturbance, effectiveness of functio0ning in one or more major areas, such as interpersonal relations, self-care, or work is significantly below the level attained before the onset. Furthermore, I agree that Nash case is schizophrenia as the doctor finds in the film because he displays continuous symptoms of disturbance that persists for considerable long time (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Furthermore, the film adequately reveal that the reveals that the symptoms persisted more than six months with at least one month of symptoms or less if inadequately treated that achieve the criterion A, which is the active-phase symptoms, which may encompass periods of residual or prodromal symptoms (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). I concur with the diagnosis because during the residual periods Nash displays in the film, the sign of disorder may be depicted by only severe symptoms or by two or more symptoms included in Criterion A emerge in an attenuated way such as unusual experiences and strange beliefs. However, it is difficult to tell whether Nash’s disturbance could be attributed to the physiological effects of a substance such as a medication or drug abuse because looking at the life of Nash it emerges that he smokes tobacco (Howard, 2001). Dr. Rosen, therefore, is justified in her diagnosis of Nash’s case as being schizophrenia.

A Beautiful Mind adequately and precisely depicts the disorder that affects the daily operations and life of Nash. One supporting argument to show that the film correctly displays the disorder is that it makes it clear to the audience about key diagnostic features associated with schizophrenia. The film through Dr. Rosen’s handling of the case reveals that the characteristic indicators of schizophrenia entail a broad range of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive dysfunctions, but no one symptom is fully associated with the disorder (Howard, 2001). Furthermore, the film shows that to come up with a diagnosis of schizophrenia a practitioner must consider a series of signs and symptoms related with social or maladjusted occupational functioning (Coffey, 1998). A critical analysis of the film as an Abnormal Psychology student reveals that at least two Criterion A signs and symptoms must be evident for a substantial amount of time during one month or longer (Howard, 2001). At least one of these features must be evident; delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech that fall under Criterion Al, Criterion A2, and Criterion A3, respectively. Catatonic behavior or grossly disorganized behavior classified under Criterion A4 and negative symptoms falling under Criterion A5 may also be available. Looking at the film it is clear that schizophrenia entails deformation in one or more critical areas of functioning, typically referred to as Criterion B. Furthermore, the film reveals that some signs that prevail beyond six months as classified in Criterion C plays fundamental functions in determining a schizophrenic case (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The production reveals that prodromal symptoms usually come before the active stage, and residual signs and symptoms may emerge afterwards, characterized by mild forms of delusions or hallucinations. Furthermore, it becomes apparent in the film that affected people may exhibit differences in displaying strange or unusual beliefs that are not of delusional measures such as magical thinking, they may encounter strange perceptual encounters such as detecting the presence of an unseen individual, or their speech may deteriorate significantly.

Moreover, the film provides much insight into the disorder in the way it provides insight into features supporting diagnosis. It reveals that people with schizophrenia may show ineffective effects such as laughing without relevant stimuli as it emerges with Nash in some instances. It also reveals how such people may display a dysphoric mood that manifests in the form of depression, anger, affected sleep pattern, anxiety, and anger (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). It emerges that such a person may also refuse to take food. Besides, the film shows through Nash that it is possible for affected people to display somatic behavior, derealization, and depersonalization, sometimes escalating to delusional levels. Also it is common as it emerges through Nash to experience phobias and anxiety (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Nash, for example, is increasingly worried that some people may be pursuing him and expresses his fears openly (Howard, 2001). However, Nash does not display cognitive deficits that are usually associated with schizophrenia because he goes ahead to win a highly coveted Nobel Award. Nash tries very hard to enhance his working memory and declarative memory, as well as to improve his language function considering the nature of his profession that requires keenness and constant interaction with others (Howard, 2001). Nash in this case emerges as a strong patient who is committed to achieve the best results out of his condition. Overall, the film provides valuable information concerning schizophrenia.   

Part 4: Treatment

Dr. Rosen recommends insulin shock therapy for Nash. The approach was characterized with repeated injection of insulin to a patient with the objective of generating regular commas over some weeks. The approach was mainly common during the first half of the 20th century and was widely applied in treating schizophrenia (Rasool et al., 2018). However, the approach was phased out during the 1960s, after new approaches emerged, thus showing that the technique is currently not used to treat the condition. Today, antipsychotics are widely used to treat schizophrenia. Practitioners usually recommend antipsychotics as the first line of treatment for the signs and symptoms of acute schizophrenic incident (Rasool et al., 2018). They function by inhibiting the effects of chemical dopamine located in the brain. An example of an antipsychotic drug is lumateperone also called Caplyta, which is one of the latest drugs recommended by FDA (Rasool et al., 2018). The effectiveness of treatment approach plays fundamental roles in determining outcome.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders fifth edition DSM-5. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Coffey, M. (1998). Schizophrenia: A review of current research and thinking. Journal of Clinical Review, 7(6), 489-498. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2702.1998.00204.x

Howard, Ron. (2001). A Beautiful Mind. USA: Universal Pictures.

Rasool, S., Ali, Z., Erum, A., & Zafar, M. (2018). Schizophrenia: An overview. Clinical Practice, 15(5), 847-851.

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