Reflections on a Beautiful Mind

Robert Whitaker
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In the past 50 years, the story of John Nash, as told first in the book A Beautiful Mind and then in the film that starred Russell Crowe as the great mathematician, is perhaps the best-known story of a person diagnosed with schizophrenia who “recovered.” Today, with obits appearing in the newspaper following his death on Saturday in a car crash in New Jersey, it is worth remembering how the true story of his recovery was hijacked in the movie and turned into an ad for a second generation of psychiatric medications.

I met John Nash once, quite by chance a number of years ago, when I was at a conference in Philadelphia. He was there with his wife for another purpose, and I was introduced to him as the author of Mad in America, although I wasn’t certain that title rang a bell for him. But the meeting for me was also memorable for this reason: he was accompanied by several people in the mental health arena with mainstream views (they may have been from NAMI, although I can’t remember for sure), and it struck me how remarkable it was that this this famous mathematician, whose recovery took place without the use of medications, could nevertheless be adopted by those who promote antipsychotics as an essential treatment for schizophrenia.

In her book, Sylvia Nasar wrote of how John Nash, after having been treated with neuroleptics during his many hospitalizations in the 1960s, stopped taking the drugs in 1970s. She wrote:

“Nash’s refusal to take the antipsychotic drugs after 1970, and indeed during most of the periods when he wasn’t in the hospital in the 1960s, may have been fortuitous. Taken regularly, such drugs, in a high percentage of cases, produce horrible, persistent symptoms like tardive dyskinesia . . . and a mental fog, all of which would have made his gentle recovery into the world of mathematics a near impossibility.”

You see in that passage both a “fact” and an assertion. The fact: Nash recovered without the use of neuroleptics. The assertion: If Nash had taken the drugs, they would have made it impossible for him to recover. The drugs, in Nasar’s book, are presented as a hindrance to recovery.

But in the movie this was all changed. In the scene before he receives a Nobel Prize, Russell Crowe speaks of taking “newer medications” that made it possible for him to do well. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill subsequently praised the film’s director, Ron Howard, for showing the “vital role of medication” in Nash’s recovery.

Why was this falsehood inserted? Nash later stated that he thought the screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, whose mother was a psychiatrist, inserted it because he was worried about people with schizophrenia stopping their medication. However, there was also a PR trade magazine that wrote with admiration at the time about the efforts by—and my memory fails me here, by either the pharmaceutical industry or one of the patient advocacy groups—to get this line into the script.

I don’t know why this falsehood was inserted into the movie. Perhaps it was dreamed up by the screenwriter on his own, and perhaps there were larger corporate and PR forces at work behind the scenes. I wrote about this hijacking of Nash’s life story in an op-ed for USA Today in 2002. Today Wikipedia and others make note of this falsehood; at least there is that record of a historical correction.

However, as our country mourns Nash’s death, I think the story of the movie serves as a reminder of how our societal thinking about psychiatric drugs arises from a narrative that is regularly filled with distortions and misinformation. Think of “drugs that fix chemical imbalances like insulin for diabetes,” and of studies that appeared in the scientific literature during the 1990s that told of how the atypicals were so much better than the first generation of psychiatric drugs, and of Russell Crowe in the movie A Beautiful Mind, and you can see a script that tells of a medical breakthrough and, if truth be told, it is that script that has governed our society’s “treatment” of those diagnosed with schizophrenia for the past 20 years.

And so we can now ask this question: If a younger version of John Nash struggled with his mind today, after having published great scientific works on economic and mathematical theories, would he be given a chance to recover without the use of antipsychotic drugs? We all know the answer to that, and the bowdlerization of John Nash’s life is one reason why that is so.

* * * * *

See also:

Revolutionary Road, A Beautiful Mind and Truthfulness by Bruce Levine, PhD, on Beyond Meds.

(See minutes 24-27 for Nash’s reflections on recovery without medication.)

– Thank you to Monica Cassani of Beyond Meds for the video links.

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58 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this column. I have been bracing myself for a stream of media nonsense about ‘schizophrenia’ and its effects. I was contacted by BBC World Service at short notice for a comment about the mental health lessons we can learn from Nash’s life and managed to mention, in the 2 minutes allocated to me, that many prominent survivor activists have left this label behind, often recovering as he did without medication, and that current thinking suggests ‘schizophrenia’ may be an understandable response to life events and circumstances, as Nash himself also seemed to believe. It’s an uphill struggle against the dominant narratives!

    • And if he was still hearing voices than where is the supposed “anti psychotic” effect?
      If the neurotoxins don’t do anything than what justifies his suffering? Even if he didn’t “recover” why not just let people hear voices and talk to themselves if they want to?
      If he got off of the drugs psychiatry would say he was”relapsing.” Relapsing from what? The “disease” that was never cured?
      When cancer is in remission there is no cancer. When you “relapse” the cancer comes back.
      Akathisia isn’t a “relapse. Nightmarish anxiety and depression from withdrawing from psych drugs isn’t a “Relapse.” Cursing at your NAMI dearest because you’re irritated and upset from drug withdrawal;l isn’t a “Relapse.”
      Psychiatry is absurd and evil.

  2. I remember 20 years ago going with a friend who drove the group home severely mentally ill to doctor appointments. One client was an attractive young man, maybe 25-28 years old, who was on massive neuroleptics. He had extensive upper body jerking and facial grimaces that made others seeing him turn away. He seemed very happy conversing with his “voices”. By writing this I wanted to show case how neuroleptics do cause extensive disfigurement and as we all know interference with abilities. I was on so many neuroleptics and to everyone except the prescribing psychiatrist saw how impaired I was on these drugs ( still don’t know how I drove a car). I know I would not be alive today if I was still poly drugged because the drugs toxic side effects ( Akathisia, muscle spams). To have my “clarity of mind” again drug free was such a gift.

  3. Thank you Bob for this blog as a reminder about this “made up” story. I have told several people today at work and elsewhere and will continue to do so. This is the kind of true stories from life which has to be told again and again since they as I think actually speaks to people in common. And people in common are the ones who will change the system, together with people like you. Thanks a lot!!!!

  4. Thank you for this article. As I’ve re-read much of what was published about John Nash in the 90s and since, it is amazing how often the truth has been twisted to support the medical model perspective of his life. This, even though his recovery actually supports another more humanistic and hopeful perspective, one of moments of extremely difficult life experience followed by full recovery without a lifelong dependence on meds. I wonder how much the hospitalizations, meds and ECT actually delayed and interrupted his eventual full recovery.

  5. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/24/us/feat-john-nash-wife-killed/index.html?sr=fb052415featjohnnashwifekilled1029aStoryLink

    From the article:”Unlike Crowe’s character, who comes to rely on medication for treatment, Nash said in a 1994 interview it had been decades since he had taken medication.”

    The book is worth reading. But as much as this story serves to challenge the narrative – and I am chiming in with everyone else!- it also serves as a reminder that it was a tough and long road for him and his family. Perhaps it could have been easier with a system of care who responded more emphatically but this took years to “settle” as I think his wife said in one of these accounts.

  6. Please tell the “useless” “shrink” I just saw last month how John Nash recovered without drugs. I told her that I wanted no more drugs and she prescribed me risperidal because she wanted to prevent me from a relapse. What she fails to realize is how risperidal, the other anti-psychotics, the SSRIs, the very addictive “benzos” and the lithium and Depakote caused me the psychosis, ocd, and even a horrible temper beyond any I ever experienced! And, that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I have needlessly gone through! I refuse to see her again!! John Nash- recovery without the dangerous meds. I also think of a very much beloved Saint; Saint Francis of Assisi! If they had had these meds in his time; would we have ever known someone as close to Jesus as ever lived! Sometimes, I get angry; but, it does no good! I pray, walk, write, plan my new life, and thank God for truth-tellers like Robert Whittaker and the Mad in America website and the others on other websites who speak up with their stories. It is time we shelve being politically correct and stand again for our freedom! Isn’t this why we have Memorial Day today?

    • Rebel, you may be forced to do what I am doing if you want to be drug-free.

      I know that my psychiatrist will never take me off my drugs. I therefore am tapering on my own.

      Educate yourself as much as possible. DO NOT COLD TURKEY! Not only can this cause permanent brain injury, but it may get you locked up (and medicated) again. Then you would have to start over from square one with people watching you for non-compliance.

      I have 3 medications I’m on. Right now I am reducing the antidepressant 10% every 4 weeks. This means unscrewing the gel cap each morning and removing 15 beads, then 30, 45, and so on. I figure they put gelatin around it for a reason, so I put the beads back in before taking it.

      At least my psych doctor did take me off latuda–which cannot be cut. I now take abilify which is divisible.

      My psych dr. is a sweet lady. She honestly believes the chemical imbalance lie. I certainly hate lying to her and everyone else in my life. But I have no choice. 🙁

      • Rebel,

        I agree with FeelinDiscouraged. Several years ago, I told my psychiatrist I was tapering off of the meds because otherwise, he would have never taken me off of them. And I did very slowly at the 10% rate.

        If you decide to go off of meds, obviously, you will have to decide if you can tell your psychiatrist or not. But definitely do not cold turkey and visit this site for support:

        http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/index

        Even though antidepressants is in the title, they have excellent information on how to slowly taper many other meds.

        Good luck to you.

      • RE: Cold Turkey and withdrawal
        A psychiatrist will likely never withdraw their patient from drugs. I have performed the “cold turkey” method of withdrawal. I figure a month of hell is better than two years of hell.
        Cold turkey can only take place if you can look after yourself, have a place to rest/sleep, money, and food, ability to get more food.

        I figure the longer on the drug, the more damage being done. If anyone is young enough their body will physically heal, like it heals from any injury over time.

        The psychological effects are very hard to handle. and will always be with you. I have to battle sloth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloth_(deadly_sin) every day.

        Exercise, healthy food, getting outside is critical.

        “The mind should control the body. When you move your fingers, when you move your toes, that’s done by the mind. Remember this: your body is your slave; it works for you.”Jack LaLanne

        http://www.shareguide.com/LaLanne.html

      • FeelingDiscouraged,

        I ended up on pretty much all the antipsychotics, except Latuda and Amblify, due to a “bipolar” misdiagnosis of the common symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome (Wellbutrin). So, I’ve been on the same drug classes as you, despite not being on the same drugs.

        Uncommonly, I was actually weaned off the drugs by my pdoc, supposedly properly, if there is such a thing, which I now know there is not. I convinced him that my etiology was a bad reaction to a NSAI, which was what I believed at the time. I now understand my primary initial symptoms were from the antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, and the NSAI just worsened those symptoms.

        Anyway, I want to warn you there is, from my understanding, research, and experience, a fairly high chance you will end up suffering from something known as drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis. In my case it started about six months after I was off all drugs, which seems to be fairly typical.

        If this happens to you, you will be manic. Personally, I would get up in the morning and dance for about two hours, I had so much energy. The good thing is dancing is good exercise, and you’ll likely lose some of that typical antipsychotic weight. But you will also be psychotic. I was lucky, in my case, it just seemed like a mid-life reflection on those I’d known during my life. And the thoughts of the wonderful people I’d known when younger came to “salvage one,” save me, so to speak. But if you dealt with a lot of trauma in your youth, I fear this type of inner reflection could actually be quite scary.

        Unfortunately, I did end up in the hospital because my husband and I had not been forewarned of this known antipsychotic withdrawal issue. And the hospital is the absolute last place you want to end up when going through a drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis. Because the medical community knows you’re dealing with an iatrogenic reaction, and they want to cover these up. They will misdiagnose this as a return of your illness. Personally, I was immediately injected with 9 drugs, then massively drugged for 10 more days, talk about overkill. And only let out because my insurance refused to pay for any more torture after two and a half weeks. It was the most appalling experience of my life.

        But absolutely, if you’re aware of this known antipsychotic withdrawal syndrome, and have a good support system set up which is there to support you through it, you can heal. I’d save a few or more antipsychotic pills, just in case you get too bad.

        But I really feel it’s important you work, and be honest, with your doctor, family and / or friends. Your doctor may act sweet to your face, but if she’s not willing to do what you believe is in your best interest, it’s time you consider looking for a psychiatrist who is. And technically, you are behaving in a non-compliant manner by tapering against your psychiatrist’s wishes.

        There are some doctors under, I think, the Resources link above, by state, who do help patients wean off the psych drugs. And I understand Shawn Blackwell, the guy who does the bipolarorwakingup series, even has a group set up to help people get through these psychoses, so you might talk to him if you do not have supportive family or friends.

        My best to you in your healing journey. But I’m proof someone who went through what you’re going through can escape and heal. Above all, keep the faith, and hope. My prayers are with you.

        • Thank you for your advice and prayers. Unfortunately my Medicaid only pays for certain doctors, so I’m in quite a bind.

          I am hoping to get help from my parents by getting them to watch “Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs” and maybe read Anatomy of an Epidemic. My dad is very skeptical of psychiatry already. I’ll talk to him first.

          Because I expect problems from withdrawal, I already am planning on becoming a recluse for a few years in the hopes of avoiding hospitalization. At least now that I know I will become psychotic sometime relatively soon, I can forewarn my parents so they won’t be too alarmed.

          In another year my parents are retiring and relocating to a very secluded spot in the country. I’m moving with them and hiding out till things are under control. They have a garage apt. built for me. Hopefully if I behave too weirdly no one will have to know. 😉

          • FeelingDiscouraged,

            Yes, forewarn your parents, if they’re your caretakers, and do let them know you can heal, supersensitivity psychosis is a withdrawal effect from the drugs, not a “return of symptoms.” I’d recommend both Whitaker’s “Anatomy …” and “Mad in America,” which gives a history of the psychiatric industry. Plus, Peter Breggins books.

            And dance, or any kind of exercise you like, is very helpful in a manic state. Get a punching bag? I personally also enjoyed a rowing machine, I found the repetative movement therapeutic. Whatever you think will help you personally.

            Listening to music was very helpful for me, personally, but music will likely trigger both good and bad memories. I also found gardening, spending time in nature, biking, painting, or other forms of nonviolently getting the anger out very therapeutic. I threw paint at canvases after I was first railroaded into the system, it helped me. And my “manic” paintings were actually reminiscent of Chagall’s imagery.

            Writing, documenting, your experience is also very therapeutic. Don’t try to talk about your psychotic thoughts with your parents, it will scare them, write them in a journal. Document it, heal, then write a book about your experience. Telling our stories will hopefully get the truth out there, and in time, end these horrendous medical abuses within humanity.

            You will heal, and help all of humanity, in the long run. Keep the faith. My best to you on your healing journey.

  7. There is also a deeper level of distortion going on, involving the language that Whitaker perhaps inadvertantly uses in responding to the mainstream narrative.

    That distortion involves the narrative that a valid syndrome / brain disease called schizophrenia actually exists, when its reliable existence has never been proven. The case against long-term medication use would get much stronger were it to be widely accepted that the use of schizophrenia as an organizing schema is completely misleading – i.e. while there are innumerable varieties of severe emotional distress, and this distress can sometimes be relieved by brain-damping pills, there is no one illness called schizophrenia that needs long-term medication or doesn’t. The medical language used in the term schizophrenia is a powerful cudgel wielded by psychiatrists and Big Pharma to legitimize the use of powerful drugs on all manner of severely distressed people, as if the drugs were actually treating a defined medical condition. What a tragic tangle of lies: “Schizophrenia” is a ghost that only exists in people’s minds, ironically, most of all in the minds of those diagnosing it.

    • Well I agree of course with everything you say about so-called schizophrenia, but after reading this i went back over the article with a fine toothed comb. I would have to say that in RW’s “defense,” while there are one or two straight-faced mentions of “schizophrenia” and “meds” without the appropriate quotation marks, usually this is when he is paraphrasing someone else’s narrative; otherwise he tends to say “diagnosed with schizophrenia,” which is an accurate characterization (except that “diagnosed” should also have quotation marks too if we want to get real purist).

      But yeah, I’m for eschewing the medical model in all its manifestations.

  8. Thanks so much fr clarifying all of this for me. I thought he recovered without drugs and when i saw the movie I was confused. Once again, I doubted myself for no reason.
    in my small state I was at May is Mental Health Month highlight speech at a conference. The person who spoke was a peer who bought into the system hook, line, and sinker. She referenced Nash as one who took meds. I don’t get angry with folks like this anymore. I think they were caught in a trap like many of us and for what ever reason were never able to open their eyes and get out.
    In the 1980’s our community mental health psychiatrist challenged us workers to take a Haldol pill. Everyone refused. The line he used was take them for two years then we will talk. However two years would come for folks and he never followed through. My understanding now is he literally didn’t know what to do.

    A psychoanalyst shrink – a relative – once admitted that no one knew why meds worked on some and not others. Her quote was – “they don’t know why they sometimes work”. She left the field disgusted many years ago. I think she saw the writing on the wall and didn’t feel she was able to make any change.
    This and so many other writings like Robert’s book – a g00d read – show it was just smoke and mirrors all along. Once again I though I had been wrong about my desire to try to keep myself and children away from any type of psychotropic medication.
    It was only when over the top situations happened that I allowed these medications into our home. It helped out my son for awhile before I realized how right I had been.

    I thought I was missing out on the new golden age. Wrong! The trouble is sometimes for what ever cruel reason some meds on some people do work for a time. That loophole has tragically allowed havoc to reign lose over the mental health field.

  9. A Beautiful Mind was the first movie I saw after my second hospitalization a couple years earlier. The movie was very hopeful and confirmed everything I had been told about schizophrenia. Had I read the book instead, the contradictions in the book with what I had been told may have opened my eyes to the split between what psychiatry says and logical reality. That is to say, psychiatry matches its own definition of schizophrenia much more closely than anyone it labels as “schizophrenic.” The Greek origins of the word schizophrenia even contradicts and discredits modern psychiatry, just like the term psychosomatic and the term psychiatrist itself.

    Even the idea that neuroleptics are just like “drugs that fix chemical imbalances like insulin for diabetes” is quite illogical when you consider that the very concept of neuroleptics, a very accurate name, is to induce the very thing that the “drugs that fix chemical imbalances like insulin for diabetes” are trying to prevent.

    I have found that the two easiest ways to argue with a psychiatrist is to ask for any valid scientific evidence to support what he is saying, or cite any other valid field of medicine. Psychiatry always fails on both accounts.

    • It’s a great example of “when the facts don’t confirm my opinion, let the facts be damned”. They had an example of a guy who recovered without drugs and went on to win a Nobel prize but they had to insert the exact opposite message because they were afraid of the truth. What an admission…

  10. Another relevant thing that the book covers that the movie does not is Nash’s sexuality. Obviously the movie focuses on the love story with Alicia, and for good reason. But it is also true, as Naser writes, that Nash slept with men from a young age, and had long-term relationships with some. This was at a time that being gay was dangerous for one’s career (he was fired from the RAND corporation following an arrest in his 20s) as well as for one’s life. He was bullied to the point of torture at college, as Naser writes. Knowing what we know now about the relationship of early stressful experiences, cultural dislocation, and bullying with psychosis, it seems worthwhile to consider how these stressors may have contributed to Nash’s experience.

    Nash spoke of these difficulties when he told his son about his “life and problems and life history” in what he hoped to be “my personal long-awaited ‘gay liberation.’” After this revelation, his son did not speak to him for 17 years, although it’s not clear from the book whether this was because of his revelation or because, as the book says, “having a mentally ill father was rather disturbing.” In any case, the interrelationship of these facts remains unexplored. Perhaps it was out of respect for Nash’s preferences in telling his story – although this seems inconsistent with the fact that his story of his own recovery is consistently disregarded. I think it’s more likely that it was, until the mounting research on the link between psychosis and trauma as made the connection unavoidable, just not clear that the sum total of the stressors Nash might have – and probably did – experience as a result of his struggles with sexuality could have meaningfully contributed to his extreme states.

    I guess it may seem disrespectful to bring this up, but I think it’s equally disrespectful not to talk about something that he clearly did care about, and remained relatively silent about, for most of his life. I personally know many people who put their sexuality – gay or straight – on the shelf once their identity became that of “mentally ill,” which in itself one of the tragedies of our current standard of care – which posits that people have to attend to “their” “illness” before they can have a relationship. My philosophy has always been – and I’ve been finding this confirmed in my recent studies of systemic couples and family therapy – that one of the best ways to help people toward health is to help them have fulfilling relationships first; and that health follows. This has become an accepted approach to working with trauma, for instance, where historically the approach has been to send people to individual therapy until they are deemed ready to have “real” relationships.

    I had hoped that this would be discussed while he was alive, and that he might talk about it. It is clear from the interviews above that he is more forthcoming than the media have generally chosen to pick up on. I am sorry that we can only discuss this in retrospect. But out of consideration for all the people who may find this other unrecognized fact of Nash’s life resonant with their own, I am glad to be able to bring it up now.

    • Kermit,
      Thanks for bringing up his history of trauma, bullying and other interpersonal pain. The medical model causes harm in many ways…first by labeling people with a disease and disregarding the complex, meaningful story of their lives…this happened to me when I was hospitalized as a 17 year old…it was confusing, unhelpful and harmful to me and my eventual recovery…I agree with your point that John Nash may have been up against some powerful oppressive cultural forces that would have only added more pain to his life, in addition to a mental health system that probably further harmed him…so sorry we have lost him in such a tragic way…

    • Kermit
      Thank you for sharing this.

      This lack of healthy relationships for people who’ve been labeled as “mentally ill” is one of the most distressing things to me as I work in a state hospital. First of all, the staff act as if and treat the “patients” as if they are not sexual beings in any way and building healthy relationships is never discussed in any of the numerous and useless groups that people are required to attend to get out of the place. A few people have spouses or boyfriends and girlfriends, but for the most part the people I see and deal with are solitary people. And they are encouraged by the clinical staff to keep it that way. It’s pretty sad and I try my best to speak to this but am considered a heretic for doing so. I’m not supposed to even bring it up in discussions or meetings.

    • I did not know this, and I agree it is very important to continue to shift the narrative not only away from confabulated “diseases,” but also toward reintegrating CONTEXT into people’s mental/emotional suffering. When 85% of “schizophrenics” relate a significant abuse/trauma history, while the wildest data manipulations can only account for less than 10% of such cases with genetics, it is quite bizarre that we spend billions researching genetic causes and almost nothing on the wide range of known environmental insults that impact the rate of psychosis experienced by the affected people.

      — Steve

  11. Coming late to this discussion, I have to say that the reason for the lies about Nash’s “recovery” (if that is the right word) is the money spent by the drug companies in bribing doctors directly and the media indirectly (through the dependence that the media now have on drug advertising).

    At least we have Nash’s own statements of the truth to point to, as Bob Whitaker says. But I think we are going to have to go a lot further than comment and talk to make any progress.

    Last weekend, people in 25 cities in 9 countries held coordinated protests against shock treatment. It’s time we started doing actions like this, just like every other movement for human rights has done.

    We can do this! And we will.

  12. Yeah there are movies that are pro-drug-psychiatry Shutter Island is another one.

    The latest one is probably “The Voices” with Ryan Reynolds, basically where the protagonists entire reality changes to a ridiculous degree based on whether he takes a pill or not.

    To be fair though there’s also a tonne of movies that don’t paint psychiatry in a good light either. I haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook or Side Effects but apparently they aren’t exactly pro-psychiatry to name a few.

    I generally try to avoid any movie that involves psychiatry, unless it accurately shows how full of crap it is, then maybe.

    • Oh I forgot the TV show “House” where they devoted a big portion of a season to the most pro-psychiatry advertisement you could possibly imagine.

      The doctor hooked on pain meds, needs to go to the mental hospital where he can then take different drugs to cope, there’s the classic bipolar buddy … organisisng a revolt and a story that ends with him causing some guy to really believe he can fly and kill himself.

      • Dr. House had as much in common with medicine as Harry Potter has with education system. But the plot around the psychiatry was a bit more nuanced – -in later episodes he realizes that he has been gaslighted by the psychiatrist and that he has nothing to offer him.

  13. Here is another interesting post ‘John Nash has left the building’ on the UK Mind Hacks blog:
    http://mindhacks.com/2015/05/25/john-nash-has-left-the-building/

    Which talks about RD Laing and game theory:

    “Fast forward 50 years, and Nash’s ideas finally have begun to have an impact on the science of psychopathology. After A Beautiful Mind was released, based on Sylvia Nasar’s earlier biography, studies emerged applying game theory and the Nash equilibrium to understanding the psychology and neuroscience of schizophrenia.”

  14. As a person who also has a “beautiful mind,” I can tell the story of my life and dreams in the lyrics of music, so I believe in a collective unconscious. I appreciate your pointing out that neuroleptics do not cure beautiful minds, they destroy them. In my case, neuroleptics caused the “schizophrenia” symptoms.

    And I wonder if, perhaps, most so called “schizophrenics” aren’t actually just people wrongly put on a neuroleptic, who are suffering from either neuroleptic deficit syndrome or the central symptoms of neuroleptic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome. I think psychiatric misdiagnoses of these neuroleptic induced syndromes as “schizophrenia” are the likely most common cause of so called “schizophrenia.”

    • I dont believe in schizophrenia. What did they do 200 years ago? In industrial society there are false economies, and there are always people that don’t fit on.
      Even before the ‘medications’ the hospitals were full of people that weren’t ‘sick’.

      • Fiachra,

        I believe “psychosis” is a real symptom, however, I doubt it is ever a “lifelong, incurable” symptom. Unless, the patient is put on neuroleptics, which are known to cause both the positive and negative symptoms of so called “schizophrenia,” including psychosis.

        And I believe the common long run adverse traits of the so called “schizophrenics” are all a result of neuroleptic treatment. So is it a “real” disease? The antipsychotics are toxic for all people, and make all people sick in the long run. I guess that means “schizophrenia” is a real disease, but it’s and iatrogenic disease, not a genetic disease, as the psychiatrists who are creating the disease claim. Does that make sense?

        • Someone Else,
          I do believe in Crisis but it’s what’s behind the crisis that’s important. Once that was fixed I was okay.

          What happened was the problem was medicalised and I was turned into a psychiatric patient. I only escaped through the skin of my teeth.

          My main problem was the effects of the psychiatric intervention and it’s damage.

          The “illness” of “schizophrenia” as we know it is definitely iatrogenic.

  15. I was sorry to hear about John Nashs passing away. I’ve seen him being interviewed and I thought he was a very interesting and vibrant person (his photographs didn’t do him justice).

    He was very old and he didn’t die from ‘natural causes’. I think he’s a good example of non drug recovery.

  16. UGH! The whole move was a falsehood!!! read the book and you will understand. The movie did not show the real way his mental illness manifested itself. The movie only focused at the mid-part of his life when he was “ill”. I wish it would have shown his earlier years so people could understand just how brilliant he was. He won a Nobel prize for game theory, but his work in partial differential equation and topology (including solving the folding problem for manifolds in 4d space) advanced fields beyond math, such as engineering and physics.

    Dr. X

  17. Okay, we survivors and allies of survivors have the facts on our side; we also have, in large part, a correct analysis of the power wielded by our opponents. What we lack is serious discussion of effective and appropriate strategies and tactics to get our point of view into public consciousness. Here are just a few of related thoughts to consider as starting points: 1) An effective strategy will have to avoid mimicking actions more appropriate to other interest groups, with other issues, fighting other stereotypes, under other conditions. 2) Other oppressed interest groups were defined either by nature (women, African-Americans, LGBTs) or by economic circumstances ( farm workers, the very poor). By DEFINITION, the interest group of psychiatrically diagnosed people has been CREATED by outside parties granted respect and authority based on public belief in their expertise and claims based on “medical science.” Without the fearless support of professionals (academics, mental health practitioners, and respected journalists) “mental patients” defined (by SCIENCE, no less)) as irrational, inconvenient, unpredictable, and potentially violent, standing in small numbers on street corners “demanding” rights without the ability to produce compelling consequences should their demands be ignored, are hardly figures likely to attract public respect and sympathy. Related to the foregoing the public, media, courts , and entertainment industry has only rarely been moved by tales of harm imposed upon diagnosed mental patients who have “required” control and detention. So, 3) What might move such groups (media, courts etc.) might be evidence that psychiatry does not perform the roles assigned it by society, i.e., not only to “help” the “afflicted,” but also to control the “insane.” For example, there appears to be evidence that folks who shoot up schools, theaters,and military bases have in large measure been recipients of psychiatric treatment and psychoactive drugs. But how to get that info into the mainstream media? The MindFreedom sponsored Fast for Freedom of 2003 opened a crack in the door by creating a crisis (a hunger strike) supported by credentialed mental health professionals. The film, Where’s the Evidence?: A Challenge to Psychiatric Authority describes that effort and is available through the MIA store. Much of the thought behind the tactic was well described in a blog by John Carney written for the MIA website about three years ago.

  18. Thank you for writing this important article Bob.
    I remember a local Northern California chapter NAMI president telling me that NAMI had successfully lobbied the makers of the movie to have Nash’s character say he recovered because of the new antipsychotics- that if the movie producers dared to truthfully show he recovered without meds that they would have blood on their hands- because some people diagnosed with schizophrenia would commit suicide without their meds.
    Nami has successfully used this same fear-mongering strategy to lobby every level of elected politicians to now have forced in-home treatment in 45 states and to push forward the second Murphy attempt to make forced community treatment the law of the land.
    Michael

    • NAMI should be called National Alliance Against Truth. NAAT. I used to belong to it. At last I have found out what a pack of liars they are. Not to mention boot-licking toadies with hands in drug companies’ pockets. They’re responsible for all the stigma in spite of their so-called “stigma alerts.”

      The truth shall set you free.

  19. Ever since I learned of John Nash’s death last week I have been ranting about the distortion in the movie. I, however, did not put pen to paper. So thank you, Robert, for writing this.
    I first saw the movie as part of an evening study/support group for people who were working as peer supporters. Many of us were disturbed by the movie distortion but we certainly had a very memorable and enlightening discussion spurred on by this movie. One aspect of the movie that has nothing to do with medication but points to an essential ingredient for transformation is relationship. There is a real soul mate love story here. It was sad to lose Alicia and John Nash–I personally take some comfort that they left together. That may just be me romanticizing, but I won’t apologize for that. I do think that if we could move the system to use relationship that we would have a kinder and certainly more effective system. Another aspect has to do with the work. John Nash continued to do his work–paid, unpaid–it was who he was. And yes medication likely would have dulled that so thank goodness he just had the strength and creativity to keep doing his passion. So many others have lost hope because of the messages they have received. This conversation is so important. Again thanks for writing this.

    • The ironic thing was I made a friend in NAMI. We were both very active in our chapter. Then one evening she had a seizure in the bathroom–she had been having a lot that week–she hit her head on a cupboard and died. At 29. That’s what comes of being a model consumer who always does exactly as told and takes your medicine. Shame on you, NAMI. She deserved better!

      • Sorry you lost your friend, FeelinDiscouraged. Absolutely, she did deserve better. Hope you’ve gotten away from NAMI and psychiatry. If not, hang out here awhile, read, learn, research elsewhere on the Web. And you’ll probably learn that slowly weaning off the meds, and not buying into the DSM belief system, is what’s in your personal best interest.

        But, of course, I do not know your personal situation, just recommending you take charge of your own health, because there’s a lot of fraud and misinformation within today’s medical community. And there are lots of us here who have been researching for over a decade, and are happy to try to help you. Best of luck to you. And believe me, you can heal, have hope. My prayers are with you.

  20. I was diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago at age 53. I feel fortunate that due to my high blood pressure I wasn’t able to be prescribed adderall right away. I started producing a documentary on ADHD partly as a way to force myself to find out what kind of treatments are available. I have met people who seem to have been greatly helped by drug treatments and others who feel they were victims of Big Pharma greed.

    I went from believing stimulants were my best chance of managing ADHD to realising we must be much more educated about as consumers when choosing treatment. My documentary will be treatment agnostic due to what I’m learning as I research for the film. Thank you for another enlightening article.

    Wes Gray
    Are You ADD? A documentary.
    areyouadd.com