“A Beautiful Mind”
Psychology in the film “A Beautiful Mind” directed by Ron Howard, following the story line of the novel with the same title written by Sylvia Nasar, is the main frame. The story is inspired by a true genius, a professor John Nash, who won the Nobel Laureate in Economics in the year 1994. The movie takes us back to Nash’s young years as an outcast college student.
Nash wanted to come up with a mathematic theory that would be original and undisputed. During his lifetime, he had the only friend Peter and later on, in the 1950’s, Alicia, his student that he went on to marry. This is a story of struggle filled with pain, desire to understand surroundings and also perception at the brink of a breakthrough.
Psychology is the main window of focus in this film. The most outstanding part is the use of the “reverse psychology”- Nash’s first meeting with the blonde. During a beer drinking session with his friends, Nash makes a proposal to his friends that they should all ignore the girl who seems to be the life, the epitome of the group of girls that walked into the bar, so that if all of them approach the other girls, they will get dates and as a result win. This, the hero presents to be the opposite of losing situation: if all of them invite the blonde, she will turn them down. Moreover, he explains that if they try to have dates and the other girls as dance partners for the evening, his friends will also be turned down, because the blonde’s friends will refuse to be the second choice.
This display of a rare high-mental behavior seems to make sense to the friends who all see Nash as a genius destined for greater heights and his big and confusing terminology seems to take effect, so they divert their attention from the blonde. Nash, on the other hand, already has a deal with the blonde. This is an excellent symbolic interpretation that is not clearly visible to those around him. The concept is what widely known as Nash governing dynamics.
The hero’s ability to focus and pay attention seems to surprise and awe everyone around him. Nash confides to Peter that his first grade teacher said that “he was born with two helpings of brain but only half is helping the heart”. This helps him to explain why he keeps to himself and says people do not like him just as much as he does not like them, hence interpersonal communication will liberate him in the process of focusing on developing the “governing dynamics”.
Nash tries to find an algorithm that defines movement of pigeons. To an ordinary observer who looks at life from a simple view, this comes across as stupidity and time consuming. To him, this helps in understanding of emotional and perpetual perspective. The hero goes on to play the chess, a board game, with Bender and besides his perfect strategy and against his better judgment, Nash loses.
His game of playing to understand the emotional and perpetual, as well as cognitive aspects of life, through mathematics is a popular and common game that helps again in the relaxation of the soul and the mind. It is played while paying close attention to the little aspects of life.
In this film the elements of psychology are elaborated at every movement that the Nobel Prize winner makes. He applies mathematics to every situation that he comes across and this is when Alice begins diagnosing that her husband may be suffering from schizophrenia and might be in need for more help.
Due to his high-functioning intellectual display, Nash is invited by the United States department of defense where he astonishes everyone by his brilliant display of mental manipulation as he cracks and deciphers a hard encrypted enemy telecommunication. Nash is a pure genius that is hard working and trapped within his inner self to such an extent that he appears dismantled and mentally unstable.
Alicia’s unflinching support shows how emotionally attached the couple was from the onset. The moment she suspects that he has schizophrenia right through the end when he walks up to receive the Nobel Prize, the display of emotions and intellect is wonderfully displayed and well portrayed.
Due to Nash’s involvement with the United States Department of Defense, his life becomes a target as he witnesses shootings and is exposed to the state’s enemies as the leading man. In an attempt to free himself from this arrangement, Nash tries to flee the country, but then William Parcher sends agents to stop him.
Parcher has an upper arm on Nash; as Dr. Rosen explains that Nash is making all the U.S Department of Defense characters up in his head. The film comes to its peak when the hero hits Alicia and their child in an attempt to protect them from Parcher who is only visible to Nash.
As Benson and Ginsburg explain “Psychology can also be seen as a bridge between philosophy and physiology. Where physiology describes and explains the physical make-up of the brain and nervous system, psychology examines the mental processes that take place within them” (Benson, 2012). Nash and Alicia’s battle to try and contain the state of mind as sane and fully developed displays the wide use of psychology in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”.