John Nash and Schizophrenia - Free Research Paper Example

Published: 2022-06-06
John Nash and Schizophrenia - Free Research Paper Example
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Mental disorder Human development
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1894 words
16 min read

John Forbes Nash Junior was a mathematical genius yet living with schizophrenia since he was thirty years old. Nash was born on 13th June, 1928 as the eldest son of John Forbes Nash Senior who was an electrical engineer. The mathematician struggled with the condition for decades, a struggle that was well depicted in the film "A Beautiful Mind" which won the Oscars in 2001. Despite the struggle, he managed to balance his mathematical genius against the disease. Nash's history of both schizophrenia and mathematical brilliance was depicted at an early age. He is reported to have been a singular, little boy, solitary and introverted. He was avoidant socially, academically above average, yet under-achieving. Although his parents often forced him to participate in social activities, he never showed any enjoyment in doing so nor perpetual continuance of such involvements. He was reported to develop bizarre behavior like eating grass, torturing animals, inappropriate chemical experiments, consistent daydreaming, and the inability to follow directions. As an adult, Nash experienced delusions, perpetuating relationships with nonexistent characters as well as developing acutely erratic behavior. Nash also experienced auditory hallucinations. He was admitted at psychiatric hospitals many times where he received therapeutic services. Eventually, Nash is said to have recovered from the condition later in his life, which he claimed happened without medication. He died in May 23rd 2015 following a car accident. During his lifetime, he had won a couple of awards.

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Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental disorder which affects a person's thinking, feeling, and behavior and is characterized by abnormal social behavior and a loss of touch with the reality. The condition also affects the level of participation in daily activities as the patient may experience delusions and isolation. The person may also experience difficulty concentrating and memory problems. Although the exact cause of schizophrenia has not been identified, there is current evidence that points to varied possible factors. These include changes in the chemistry of the brain, alteration in the structure of the brain, as well as genetic factors. Still, there are theories that suggest that the condition is a group of related diseases resulting from different factors. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is a system of multi-axial classification of mental disorders. The system consists of several levels of the mental disorders each depicting particular symptoms. For instance, the first axis consist of an extensive list of clinical syndromes that cause significant impairment. For John Nash's case, his Axis 1 diagnosis would have been paranoid schizophrenia. According to Comer, (2011), individuals with paranoid schizophrenia depict an organized system of delusions as well as auditory hallucinations which are likely to guide their lives. These are symptoms that were reported with Nash. He was deluded about persecution with the fear that some people were out to get him.

The second axis involves chronic conditions often overlooked in the presence of axis 1 conditions. For Nash, this level would have been paranoid personality disorder. Individuals experiencing this disorder feel that they are in danger and are committed to seeking that evidence, even disregarding logic and facts. For instance, John Nash displayed this behavior to the extent of admitting that his behavior was irrational. However, he was convinced that he was in danger and he even sought to expose any threat around him by making people close to him aware of the danger he was purportedly facing. Axis III shows general medical conditions which may be acute or physical disorders. In the case of Nash, he experienced medical conditions and had to be admitted to hospital multiple times to receive the old treatments such as the insulin shock which were among the popular controls for schizophrenia in those days. Axis IV consist of psychosocial and environmental factors which are contributors to the mental disorder. John Nash in multiple cases portrayed psychosocial disorders from an early age. For instance, while in school, it was his parents who often forced him to interact with his peers, something that he did not enjoy. In other instances as an adult, it is reported that he would disappear for days on end and on returning would offer no explanation for his absence. At some point he would not allow visitors to stand between him and the door while in his office. As a teenager, he was reported to have adopted the habit of eating grass and torturing animals. The last stage which is Axis V revolves around global assessment of functioning. This is the stage at which the condition is assessed and contained depending on how the person has been responding to the control measures in the other four axes.

The developmental stages in schizophrenia condition for John Nash depicted varied transformations. Although the diagnosis was fully confirmed when he was thirty years old, the symptoms of both his brilliance and the disorder were evidence from an early stage in life. An important stage in his development was his adult life after the condition had been confirmed. As an adult, Nash's condition was characterized by delusions, auditory hallucinations, communicating with non-existent characters, and other erratic behavior. His condition became apparent in 1958 while working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a lecturer. This is the time he would disappear for days without an explanation. He would also go into long reveries in the midst of lectures and at times making seemingly meaningless statements to his students and colleagues. His paranoia rose and he believed that he was being followed. His situation deteriorated with his conversations and behavior becoming increasingly disturbing through 1959. His colleagues thought and concluded that he was suffering from a "nervous breakdown." However, after consultation with a psychiatrist, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia following his complex systems of delusions which were considered both grandiose and persecutory. Although he was released after showing improvement, his next twenty years were characterized with constant readmissions to hospitals with periods of varying degrees of mental and ill health. At such times, as common with patients of schizophrenia, he lived in a world of his own, being strange to the people around him but feeling perfectly logical and ordinary to himself. The good news is that it was reported that he overcame the disorder and was a healed person since he hit fifty years of age.

The Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development will be ideal to explain Nash's condition. This theory describes eight distinct stages of psychosocial development, with the first five going up to the age of 18 years and the remaining three to adulthood. The theory holds that personality is developed in a predetermined order, building upon each previous stage, an element known as the epigenetic principle. In each stage, the individual experiences a psychosocial crisis which positively or negatively affects the outcome for personality development. According this theory, a successful completion of each stage results in a healthy personality and the successful acquisition of basic virtues which can be used to resolve subsequent crises. However, failing to successfully complete a certain stage could result in a minimized ability to complete preceding stages and as such create a more unhealthy personality as well as sense of self. The eight stages of the Erikson theory include trust versus mistrust, autonomy versus shame, initiative versus guilt, industry versus inferiority, identity versus role confusion, intimacy versus isolation, generativity versus stagnation, and ego integrity versus despair.

As mentioned above, the first five stages cover the initial stages of life up to the age of eighteen years while the remaining three stages cover further into adulthood. In the first stage of trust versus mistrust, the crisis occurs during the first year or thereby of a person's life. The crisis is on trust or mistrust. The crisis emanates from the uncertainty experienced by the infant of the world they are living. The infant looks up to the caregiver to develop either trust or mistrust through the stability and consistency of care given to it. A sense of trust will likely be developed if the infant is receiving consistent, predictable, and reliable care. They will carry this sense of trust to other relationships and it will give them a sense of security even when they feel threatened. If this stage is undergone successfully, it will lead to the development of a virtue of hope. This hope gives the infant the confidence that in the event that another crisis may arise, there will be support offered to it by the people around it. When the care given to the infant is not consistent or reliable, it will develop mistrust and in the place of hope, fear. This will be transferred to other relationships and this will result in development of anxieties, insecurities, and a general mistrust to the world around.

The second stage is that of autonomy versus shame and doubt. It occurs between eighteen months and three years of a child's development. This is at a time when the child is exploring the world and trying to discover the world he is living. At this stage, parents and caregivers are advised to allow the children to try out things and experience them on their own. This creates a sense of independence and an environment where the children can test the limits of their abilities. The child should be allowed to do things on their own until when they fail or ask for assistance. In such a situation, the parent or caregiver is not supposed to criticize the child but rather offer the assistance required. When carried out successfully, the stage results in the development of the virtue of will. Children who come out successfully from this stage gain confidence to survive in other areas of their lives. If they are criticized and not given support, they feel inadequate and lose self-esteem, as well as develop the feeling of shame or doubt on themselves.

The third stage is that of initiative versus guilt. This is at the age when the children have joined school are actively engaging with their peers in school. It is a vigorous and active age for the child. This stage helps in developing personal skills through initiating activities. This is when children are involved in planning themselves, making up games, and initiating other activities with their friends. If given this opportunity and encouraged, children develop a sense of initiative and security in their ability to carry out activities. If not successfully achieved, the child develops a sense of guilt. These children may feel as if they are nuisance to others and as such lack self-initiative and rather be followers. Successful completion of this stage yields the virtue of purpose. The fourth stage is that of industry versus inferiority which occurs between the age of five and twelve. This stage creates industrious or competent children if successfully accomplished or the sense of inferiority. Success in this stage will result in the development of the virtue of competence. The fifth stage is that of identity versus role confusion which occurs in adolescent stage. This is when an adolescent seeks the sense of personal identity through exploring his or her values, goals, and beliefs. This stage is crucial since it is when the adolescent will learn on the roles he or she will occupy as an adult as well understand who he or she is. Successful completion of this stage leads to the development of fidelity and role confusion if not well completed.

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