When What You Are Seeing May Not Be True
The film did a great portrayal of paranoid schizophrenia. I think it is very informative that even people without formal education on this illness will be able to understand at least part of what it is about. The film also proved that this kind of illness can go unnoticed and undiagnosed for a long time which happened in the case of John. His delusion believing that he was connected to the activities of CIA went on for years which only proved of one of the prominent symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. The delusion took its toll on him and continued for years believing that is reality.
I’d like to believe that it’s the goal of this film to educate everyone about mental illness, how if not why people suffer from it and that they are not alone in the struggle. And also that for everyone who doesn’t go beyond their selfish ways, this film is saying that everyone deserves respect especially if they have a mental condition and it is not entirely their fault for being in such situation.
When Alicia discovered John’s office, I wasn’t quite in shock as her character proved to be. It’s also one of the common things people learn about schizophrenia. They have this preoccupation and particular way of doing things. And to discover a room full of complicated equations, computations, walls of different news clippings and patterns that a normal person can never understand is part of a schizophrenic’s reality. I remembered one book that is quite similar with this pattern. The book was The Bee Season wherein one of the characters had this impulsive tendency to get into other people’s houses and take something. In other words it was kleptomania. But aside from that she rented a room for a long period of time where she brings all the things she took. It was also years later before her family found out about it and her condition. And the author went on to describe the room that it was such a beautiful sight that no normal person can ever do. It was insanely beautiful.
Furthermore, it also made sense when Alicia went into that abandoned building John has been going to all those years only for Alicia to find all his “classified mails” in the mail box, unopened. I started to get excited because surely there’s a lot more to learn about John. Similarly, the part when John was brought to the mental hospital really appealed to my “psychological curiosity”. That’s when everything started to make sense. Make sense in a way that explains his paranoia.
It’s natural that I get excited watching psychological films but this particular movie is one that’s on top of my list since it is very interesting, informative and moving. One exceptional aspect of this film is its success in making viewers hooked, seeing and believing every character involved just to realize after an hour of watching that Charles, his roommate, is just a product of his imagination. Charles was part of his delusion and visual hallucination.
Other important topics portrayed in the film involved one particular clarification of a myth. The fact that the film was based on the true story of mathematician, John Forbes Nash Jr. made a statement that the myth saying only low IQ individuals suffer from schizophrenia is not really true. Anyone can suffer from it. The causes even range from biology, physiology, chemical make ups of the body, traumatic events, and other factors.
Another important concern addressed in the film was the acceptance or the lack of it from the people around somebody who has a mental condition. People who don’t understand and make fun of individuals with mental health condition are the shame of humanity. That’s me speaking as a psychologist – somebody who knows. But really people can be just so cruel. That’s one thing that even the non-government organization I’m working for now is trying to address. But no matter how we educate people, it will still take a long time or we might never achieve at all a perfect acceptance for people with mental illness
Moving on, it was much easier for me to recognize that CIA supervisor, William Parcher was part of his imagination because it’s one of the classics when you study schizophrenia. It was easy to recognize that its part of his delusion since it supposedly involved a prominent government agency and conspiracy.
I really admire John’s intelligence because only a genius like him can really go over the complicated things he’s been doing all his life while at the same time battling with his own inner demons. I think there is even a better word to describe his life accomplishments. It’s divine. He’s been blessed. You might even say that’s how he was really made to be. To show the world a perfect example that not everything the society labels as normal is all we ever have to look after. Because look at him. He is not one to be considered normal based on our society’s norms but he was able to do something that even the most normal of us may not be able to accomplish in our lifetime.
I’m happy that John was able to establish himself again in the academe. It’s such a funny scene when he asked his student if she can see the old man who just approached him. That was very humorous. It was also a clever realization from John himself when he did realize that William, Charles and his niece never get old. I think that’s one strongest way he discovered to get a grip on his mind mechanisms.
The film also portrayed how he battled to get a grip especially on that part film when he stopped his medication because it affects his libido and can’t make love with Alicia. He was also thinking of their baby and how he can’t help babysitting because of the side effects of the drugs. I think it says here how important it is for mentally ill people to have caring and loving people around them. It helps them in every possible way. It helps them to stay as much as possible in reality and do something to make themselves better.
I think Alicia was able to bring out the best in John. It was a moving part of the film when both John and Alicia decided that they will do everything and believe in something extraordinary to happen and make John better. I think that’s when John really started to accept his illness and do something about it. And that’s one important thing for everyone with a mental health condition. Even people with addiction have to accept first that they have a problem to solve. That’s the first step to getting better.
Alicia is the representation of people who stand by their loved ones suffering from schizophrenia and other mental illness. It was very courageous of her to stick with him all through the years. In real life, we know that it’s not always possible. People either get tired or get lost in the unpredictable battle of their loved ones with mental illness. Thus, I think a lot of people were able to connect with Alicia and see themselves in her upon watching this film.
I think I was more able to connect with the character of Alicia. I liked how she described her feelings for John’s condition. It was of rage towards him and divinity and also of guilt for wanting to leave him. But then her love for him and that of him for her is enough to stay. I think it’s very real how she felt about John. And I think everyone else in her place felt the same way at some point upon knowing that their spouses are mentally ill. It’s a matter of choice when they stay or leave the person. That’s why it must really be with great love why Alicia chose to stay with him.
I was completely moved by the ending of this film. People were just so respectful to John for his Nobel Prize accomplishment and for who he is after all. I was also moved by the loyalty of his graduate school friends who stayed by his side until later in life. How they showed support in him and Alicia all the time they needed help. Like Alicia, they were John’s source of strength and familiarity to get a grip on what is real.
The film choice of this group was perfectly fitting to their assigned topic. And I believe that this film is an inspiration for everyone to realize that greatness exists mostly beyond what we consider as normal.
Another Graduate School paper submitted during first semester.