Art of Craftsmanship

Academic writing tips and guidelines

Tips for a beautiful mind analysis paper

The 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, and the book it's based on, are a fictionalized account of the life of American mathematician John Nash. Dealing with his struggle to manage schizophrenia and the effect it had on the people around him, it's been widely acclaimed for its treatment of mental illness. This has made it a popular subject for analysis papers. If you have to write an essay on the book or film here are a few good points to discuss.

  • As a student Nash forms a close friendship with his roommate, Charles, who encourages him to propose to his future wife. Charles later turns out to be a hallucination resulting from Nash's schizophrenia, but his "advice" turns out well for Nash. On the other hand another of his hallucinations is Parcher, who "advises" Nash to act in egocentric and self-destructive ways. Both these characters are actually aspects of Nash's own personality; how does schizophrenia affect his ability to handle them?
  • After Nash is diagnosed as schizophrenic he is prescribed medication. While this controls his symptoms it also affects his ability to think and do research. In the end he stops taking the drugs and looks for other ways to cope with his illness. This aspect of the film proved controversial, but Nash and others have argued that while medication can manage symptoms it might actually make it more difficult for people to live a normal life. In the film, though, it is implied that Nash later started taking "newer drugs." Apparently this was added because the studio were worried about encouraging schizophrenics not to take medication. Is it appropriate for film makers to be involved in these issues?
  • Despite his often bizarre behavior, and the family problems it causes, Nash goes on (as in reality) to win a Nobel Prize, making it clear that people with mental illnesses can achieve great things if they can control their condition. How does this portrayal compare with earlier films dealing with mental illness? Has it helped to increase public understanding of mental illness and its effects?
  • A Beautiful Mind portrayed schizophrenia quite accurately, emphasizing the hallucinations and disordered thinking it causes rather than the false belief that it involves multiple personalities. However the symptoms suffered by Nash in the film are different from those he actually had - for example, in the film he sees Charles, Parcher and others, where in fact he only ever heard their voices. The hallucinations also appeared later in his life, not when he was a student. Is it justifiable to misrepresent real people like this?

Overall this film raises some good points, and certainly enough to make a great essay topic. With a little research into these points you can produce an interesting analysis paper.