A Beautiful Mind: Another Dangerous Distortion

Claiming that the film “A Beautiful Mind” distorts the life of John Nash, a coalition of 100 mental health advocacy groups issued a public statement today to Universal asking for an apology and retraction.

Support Coalition International cites a guest commentary in USA Today (3/4/02) by author Robert Whitaker. Whitaker claims Nash refused psychiatric drugs, and this may have aided his recovery.

The film has Nash saying he was taking “newer medications” at the time of his Nobel Prize. Nash says that’s pure fiction.

Nash has also been quoted recently as wondering if the fact that one screenwriter’s mother is a psychiatrist had anything to do with this distortion.

Whether or not people can recover following a diagnosis of “schizophrenia” without taking psychiatric drugs is a major controversy in the mental health field. Support Coalition International says that Universal (along with Imagine and DreamWorks) apparently caved to pressure, and distorted Nash’s life so as not to overly disrespect psychiatric drugs.

Psychologist Barry Duncan, PhD author of the book The Heroic Client, says the film can actually harm people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, and the public. Says Dr. Duncan, “By all accounts, Nash took no antipsychotic medication after 1970. The ‘right message’ crafted in the film and promulgated in reviews and echoed by ‘experts’ do those suffering and the public a great disservice.”