A Beautiful Mind

The film “A Beautiful Mind” directed by Ron Howard depicts a heroic life story of an outstanding mathematician John Forbes Nash (Russell Crowe), haunted by both his genius and his mental derangement. The picture traces the mathematician`s struggle to save his personal life and career after John is diagnosed with schizophrenia and is falling into insanity. I have chosen this film because it exemplifies several psychological concepts and theories, such as the mentioned psychiatric condition of schizophrenia, and the psychological processes associated with what is known as cognitive dissonance.

Speaking about the diagnosis that the main character portrays, it is ironic that the very word schizophrenia, which can be translated as “a shattered mind”, is such a fitting characterization of the Nash`s condition. People with schizophrenia left untreated usually manifest disorganized patterns of thinking and have auditory hallucinations and delusions, often quite acute. In this connection, the film depicts such symptoms of schizophrenia in a very vivid and distressing way, moreover that we as viewers learn that what we had previously perceived as reality and as key people in the life of Nash were actually his hallucinatory visions.

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In this regard, the psychological theory that best explains the behavior of the protagonist of the film is known as cognitive dissonance. This concept belongs to the realm of study of cognitive processing underlying our psychological mechanisms and functions, and postulates that conflicting cognitions represent a kind of a driving force that makes us find new methods of dealing with situation to reduce the level of a cognitive dissonance, in this way simultaneously instigating us to undergo the process of learning.

We can find examples of cognitive dissonance in the film when Nash realizes that many of his experiences are in fact hallucinatory, and begins to learn to intellectually control some of his delusions. On ground of all this, I would say that due to its plot, character development, and visual effects, the film “A Beautiful Mind” indeed portrays the discussed psychological issues in both an accurate and a very impressive way.