John Nash started experiencing strange auditory hallucinations as if somebody from space was sending a message to him. Slowly, he began to show symptoms of paranoia and he lost the ability to do research and teach. He was hospitalized for the treatment of paranoid schizophrenia. But even then, his mental health went on deteriorating and his paranoid thoughts went from bad to worse. It landed him in a lot of trouble. He even resigned his US citizenship thinking that he was a political prisoner. He underwent several modes of treatment till he recovered to a large extent by the year 1990. It was a very long journey, for this mathematics professor, which started in 1959.
Today, he is leading a happy married life with his wife and children. The change in the behavior and attitude of John Nash and schizophrenia symptoms, diagnosis and treatment were beautifully portrayed in the film, ‘a Beautiful Mind’, in which the part of John Nash was played by Russell Crowe. The detailed description of schizophrenia, the mental illness, which was assayed by Russell Crowe, is given below.
Symptoms of schizophrenia
Patients of schizophrenia present with a variety of symptoms. The disease develops slowly over a period of time. It may take a month or even a few years for the disease to start showing its full blown symptoms. Initially, the patient feels tense and has a complaint of sleeplessness. He finds it difficult to concentrate. Slowly, he becomes isolated from his family and friends. As the disorder continues, various psychotic symptoms start developing, which are described below –
· Irregular muscular movements
· Catatonic behavior causing lack of response to the environmental stimulus
· Hallucinations, in which patient hears, sees or feels things that are absent.
· Disordered thinking; patient jumps between unrelated thoughts
Some patients exhibit more symptoms of the Catatonic form, like reduced sensitivity towards pain, improper self care, negative emotions, agitation, motor disturbances, stupor and rigidity of muscles. Patients of paranoid schizophrenia show symptoms of severe anger, uncontrolled anxiety, too much argumentativeness and the delusion that someone is trying to harm them.
Patients suffering from disorganized schizophrenia can show regressive or child-like behavior, delusions, hallucinations, incoherent behavior, social withdrawal, repetitive behavior and inappropriate laughter.
Diagnosis of schizophrenia
Diagnosis of schizophrenia lies mainly in detection of its peculiar symptoms. The patient can be diagnosed as suffering from paranoid, catatonic or disorganized schizophrenia depending upon the dominance of any 1 group of symptoms in the patient. While making the diagnosis, it is important to differentiate it from other mental disorders causing symptoms of psychosis. Signs and symptoms can be extracted by having a discussion with the patient and his family members. There are no medical tests confirming the diagnosis of schizophrenia. CT scan and other imaging investigations of the head can be carried out to rule out any other disorder before confirming the diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Treatment of schizophrenia
The patient may need to be hospitalized in severe cases of this disease. This can ensure the safety of the patient and his near ones. Neuroleptic or antipsychotic drugs can change the balance of hormones and chemicals in the brain and help in controlling the symptoms of this disease. However, these medicines can cause some side effects in patients like sedation, weight gain, unsteady gait, improper motor functions, restlessness and muscular contraction. Hence, these medicines must be administered under the close supervision of an expert health practitioner. Behavior techniques like social skills training can help in improvement of the symptoms. It is also important to educate the family of the patient regarding the illness.