Perhaps the biggest feat of the film, which took the Oscar for Best Picture and Director, was Ron Howard’s exquisite depiction of what life may be like for those suffering from schizophrenia. By the age of 22, gifted mathematician John Nash, played by Russell Crowe (nominated for an Oscar for his role), had already completed a doctorate at Princeton and went on to join the staff of MIT. His seminal thesis “Non-cooperative Games” was an influential part of his work on the mathematics of game theory, for which he would receive the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 — but not before his illness became too much to deal with and forced him to resign from his professorship in the 1950s.
Nash continues to work on mathematical theory and in a 2005 interview described his recovery from the delusional episodes he suffered: “I began to tire of certain types of irrational thinking. I was doing things at the time, studying or doing some calculations. So it may be that the delusional thinking began to become unsatisfying. I think people become mentally ill when they’re somehow not too happy — [it’s] not just after you’ve won the lottery you go crazy. It’s when you don’t win the lottery.”
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