Study Guide

A Beautiful Mind Madness

Madness

ALICIA: What's wrong with him?

DR. ROSEN: John has schizophrenia. People with this disorder are often paranoid.

ALICIA: But…but his work, he deals with conspiracies, so…

DR. ROSEN: Yes, yes, I know. In John's world, these behaviors are accepted, encouraged. As such, his illness may have gone untreated far longer than is typical.

ALICIA: What do you mean? How long?

DR. ROSEN: Possibly since graduate school. At least, that's when his hallucinations seem to have begun.

Alicia and Dr. Rosen have this exchange right after John has been institutionalized for schizophrenia. As you can see, Alicia had not suspected that anything was up. She had even believed John when he told her stories about people she had never met, and who turned out not to be real.

JOHN: The implant's gone. I can't find it. It's gone.

[…]

DR. ROSEN [later, talking to Alicia.]: You see, the nightmare of schizophrenia is not knowing what's true. Imagine if you had suddenly learned that the people and the places and the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been. What kind of hell would that be?

Once in the hospital, it takes a while to get John to understand that a lot of what he's believed to be true…well, isn't. He even carves up his wrist looking for the implant he believes the Department of Defense put there.

PARCHER: We've narrowed the bomb's location to somewhere on the eastern seaboard, but we haven't been able to pinpoint its exact position. Their codes have grown increasingly complex.

Unfortunately, even after seeking treatment, John's delusions aren't gone permanently because John doesn't really like staying on his meds. So, his "DoD contact," Parcher, reappears and tries to get John to start helping him again.

JOHN: Dr. Rosen said…

PARCHER: Rosen! That quack! "Schizophrenic break from reality," right? Psychological bulls***! Look at me, John. John, look at me. Do I look like I'm imagined?

Here, you can see John is trying to stay in reality, but his hallucination is being pretty convincing, it seems. Soon, Parcher has John believing that the doctors were wrong, and Parcher is the one telling him the truth. (It's so not true, though.)

DR. ROSEN: There's no theorem, no proof. You can't reason your way out of this.

JOHN: Why not? Why can't l?

DR. ROSEN: Because your mind is where the problem is in the first place.

JOHN: I can do this. I can work it out. All I need is time.

John continues to struggle with sorting out fact from fiction, until he manages to latch on to one key observation: one of his hallucinated buddies, Marcee (Charles' niece), has remained a child the entire time he's "known" her. As in, she hasn't aged a bit. So, he is able to accept once again that he's experiencing hallucinations.

His doctor, Dr. Rosen, wants to bring him into the hospital for more treatment, but John really wants the chance to put his crazy amazing brains toward solving his own issues. Dr. Rosen isn't buying that it's possible, though.

ALICIA: You almost ready? Rosen's waiting outside.

JOHN: I can't go back to that hospital. I won't come home.

ALICIA: He said that if you said that, he has commitment papers for me to sign.

JOHN: Well, maybe you won't sign them. Maybe you'll just give me some time. I will try to figure this out.

When John tells Alicia that he really doesn't want to go back into treatment, they discuss the possibility of having him committed against his will, which is what Dr. Rosen wants. However, Alicia decides to let him have his way and help him try to figure out another way to get better.

ALICIA: Rosen said to call if you try and kill me or anything.

John thinks that Alicia has left him to go to her mother's, where she would be safe from John's volatility, but instead she just sees Dr. Rosen off and returns. She's going to stick by him, even though it's…well, kind of dangerous.

JOHN: Is there any chance that you could ignore what I just did?

HANSEN: Of course, what are old friends for?

When John goes to ask Hansen for some help getting back into Princeton's academic communities, he has a little difficulty keeping his delusions at bay during the meeting. So, he asks Hansen to ignore that little blip in his behavior, and Hansen is a total sport about it.

JOHN: Oh, I see, so you came here to find out if I was crazy? Find out if I would screw everything up if I actually won? Dance around the podium, strip naked and squawk like a chicken, things of this nature?

THOMAS: Something like that, yes.

JOHN: Would I embarrass you? Yes, it is possible. You see, I am crazy. I take the newer medications, but I still see things that are not here. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I choose not to indulge certain appetites.

When a dude from the Nobel Prize committee comes sniffing around Princeton to make sure John is sane enough to accept the award without embarrassing everyone, John is up front about where he is with his recovery.