September 20th, 2021

A Beautiful Mind

In 2001, Russel Crowe acted as John Nash In the Ron Howard movie, A Beautiful Mind. It is a classic story of love and effort conquering all. For those who do not remember the story, John Nash was a genius Princeton graduate mathematics student who produced a unique theory of equilibrium in non cooperative games which lead to major leaps in game theory, economic understanding of complex systems and much more including a Nobel Prize in Economics. He unfortunately began to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia that derailed his life and his work.

At the time, as depicted in the movie, insulin induced seizures and psychotropic medications were the treatment of choice which were clearly devastating to the health and vitality of any mammalian system. As the story goes, he was able to eventually get out of the hospitals and resume a reasonably normal existence by rejecting the reality of the delusions and delusional thoughts in order to appear normal in the hospital. While living in the non hospital world, he found structure and support from his wife and the world of mathematics at Princeton University.

The world of beautiful minds for anyone with a mental disorder from anxiety to autism to major depression is not always so supportive and many do not have the mental fortitude to say no to the complex delusions or choices that are hurting them. We see this problem in clinic often with children struggling to maintain mental health in a profoundly unhealthy home environment necessitating in many medical minds more use of psychotropics and mind altering protocols.

However, in my mind, as seen so beautifully in the life of John Nash, what people really need is love and support to be the best version of themselves no matter what the mental disability. Stress and fear are the mind killers. We, as a complex society of individuals, must find ways to increase our collective support of those struggling with mental health lest they continue to fall for addiction or other self medicating ways of dealing with the dysfunction.

Recently, we are seeing a large increase in high quality research looking into the use of psychoactive medicines and molecules that can help disassociate a mind from trauma or cycled thought. This pathway may be an at last moment for many sufferers of mood disorder and diseases of the mind. Whether a mental issue is reactionary as with post traumatic stress disorder or other like schizophrenia, there seems to be a plausible line of change to the etiology of the dysfunction, cycled thought. When a human cycles negatively on a thought, it gains power over them and changes behavior. Think of the accomplished newscaster Dan Harris who at one moment could no longer perform on air for an unknown reason. His anxiety lead to an inability to complete a task he was gifted at. Now, I have neither spoken to nor know him, but I surmise from my experiences in medicine that he began to fear failure and the negative cycle of thought grew into a paralyzing reality.

In my experience, the best cure for this dilemma is getting back on the horse and repeating the process until the fear abates. This may not be possible for a news anchor with a live show or an airline pilot flying high in the sky, but what is possible is love and support from family and friends while the individual in focus says no to the delusions, fears, negative thought in order to get the ship righted. This process will likely be highly augmented now through modern pathways of psychotropic medication thought disassociation.

 

Dr. M