There was a clear suggestion in the TV show "A Brilliant Madness" that Nash's brilliance and mathematical creativity was related to his schizophrenia, although it also interfered with his work. Would the panelists agree that schizophrenia can have positive features, and if so, what implications does this have for treating the disease?
Oakdale, New York
Answered by Irving I. Gottesman, Ph.D.:
I heard Sylvia Nasar speak at a NARSAD fund raiser a couple of weeks ago, and she took care to undermine any implied causal relationship between schizophrenia and John Nash's genius. If I were given the chance to become a genius, but had to develop schizophrenia first as the price, I would run away from such a "deal" as fast as possible. I cannot say, after 45 years of close experience with schizophrenia, that it has any redeeming features. Others have likened it to a cancer of the mind. It will take teams of dedicated scientists from a number of different disciplines in the neurosciences and medicine and mathematics to make progress on treatments and, eventually, prevention for this scourge of the mind.