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Interview with John Nash: My Experience with Mental Illness

John NashI don't claim to understand mental illness and the causes and all the details about it. Of course, I don't think anybody does. They are trying to find things. It's very popular nowadays to find chemical explanations and genetic explanations and maybe whatever can be observed by imaging. Imaging studies of the brain and differences in the sizes of particular areas in the brain. So this is the popular area -- but I don't think it's so simple that all cases are necessarily the same. The symptoms are very coordinated, so that you can define schizophrenia or manic depressive illness in terms of symptoms, which are observed in behavior.

McLean Hospital
I knew where I was, but I was there on observation, but I was able to think that I was like a victim of a conspiracy. So I didn't accept the type of thinking that I would have been considered right thinking for me, probably how I should think at that time.

Later on, I did make such an adjustment -- first, on a temporary basis, after a certain hospitalization. Then I came out and I worked. And I worked in mathematics. But I wasn't in the McLean [Hospital] long enough.

See, what had happened was when I was brought back like that, it was usually quite a period of time, and then I began to realize that I would not be getting out of the hospital unless I conformed and behaved normally. So in part I would do, except I would be sweeping the delusions under a rug, and they were able to come out later on, and could be triggered, and I would move very quickly to accepting it again, after having put it aside for a while.

Visual Hallucinations
Something like this may appear in the movie [A Beautiful Mind], but of course the delusion pattern in the movie is going to be somewhat different, because the person sees things that aren't there. It's not just ideas or the idea of a plot or something, he thinks he sees certain persons.

I never saw anything, but my son has said that he sees things, and I don't know what it's really like, because he doesn't say it very often. I'm rather suspicious of him that he might like to say that.





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