What we learned from an "exceptional man"

What we learned from an “exceptional man”

John Nash, the genius of life and mathematics that inspired the fantastic film "An Exceptional Man", is dead.

Based on the new namesake of Sylvia Nasar, the feature film produced in 2001 was a real success and earned 4 Oscar and many fans.

Led by Russell Crowe who plays the lead role, the film offers us in a simple way a great message which invites us to seek the way to go beyond our limits, whatever they are.

To those who do not know the story of John Nash

John Nash was 30 when he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. To the healthy ambition of his extraordinary mind, was the shock of a terrible disease that was desolate.

It was a brilliant mind, out of the ordinary and promising. Nothing could stop him and keep him from pursuing his dreams. After years of harsh treatment trying to help him get past mental illness, John Nash managed to control his symptoms


 He learned to live with voices with hallucinations. He heard voices, he saw things, but he knew how to accommodate them.


His inner work has been immense until the end of his life. Logically, living without being able to discern what is real from what is not is very complicatedbut Nash's brilliant spirit has succeeded.

Nash won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 for his theory of games, still valid today and useful in the strategy sector.

John fought schizophrenia all his life, and he managed to lead a completely different life than the illness he had.

His death, like his life, was not the one we hoped for. On May 23, 2015, Nash died with his wife, victims of a car accident.

An example of surpassing and hope

We owe a lot to this mannot only for his contribution to science but also to tell his story and show us that by working within ourselves, all minds can be wonderful.

John focused on his intelligence and lived with the voices that occupied his mind, although they drove him crazy. His struggle was not easy. However, he understood that the path of his life was in acceptance and he showed it to us.

That's how he got inspired. He has managed to create a stable world in a constantly changing environment. And what was at first a fight, ended up being a home where he could grow.

Despite his limitations, Nash managed to secure a place as a professor at MIT, while recovering the genius that his mental problem had begun.

John Forbes Nash learned to live with theschizophrenia throughout his life, applying a rule that "every problem has a solution".

A rule that, although it is not valid for all mental patients, may be applied in our life.



Without a doubt, John offered us the key to enjoying life: accepting, letting go and acting.


Does schizophrenia cure itself?


Sometimes, what a person needs is not that a brilliant mind speaks to him but a patient person listens to him.


The investigative journalist Robert Whitaker tells us that for a long time, Western Lapland (Finland) had the highest rates of schizophrenia among its population.

Of the 70,000 people who lived in the 1970s through the early 1980s, about 25 cases were diagnosed each year, double or triple, as in the rest of Finland and Europe.

But in 1969, Yrjö Alanen arrived at the Turku Mental Hospital (Finland). At that time, few psychiatrists believed in the possibility of psychotherapy as a treatment for psychosis.


However, Alanen thought that the hallucinations and paranoid delusions of schizophrenic patients, when analyzed thoroughly, showed meaningful stories.


This is how they began the long work of listening to patients and their families.

They have created a new treatment modality called "patient-friendly therapy". However, they have not forgotten that each person is a world in itself, so they have developed in parallel the creation and adequacy of a specific treatment for each case.

Some patients will have to be hospitalized, but others will not. On the other hand, some of them will benefit from low doses of psychiatric drugs (anxiolytics or antipsychotics) and others not.

As we can see, every case is worked and carefully customized, being aware of the needs of each person and each family.

Obviously, treatment decisions were made jointly, valuing each opinion.

Therapy sessions did not focus on reducing psychotic symptoms, but on the patient's previous successes, thus aiming to strengthen control over his own life.


In this way, the patient does not lose hope of being like the others, of maintaining normality and of seeing further, instead of locking in on himself.


In recent years, Open Dialogue Therapy has transformed "the frame of the psychotic population" in Western Lapland.

The cost of psychiatric services in the region has been drastically reduced, and to date, it is the sector with the lowest mental health expenditure in Finland.


The 25 new cases of schyzophrenia a year have been reduced to 2 or 3.


There are other types of treatment for people with schizophrenia or other types of psychoses that guarantee a different life than we are used to.

We subject them to aggressive pharmaceutical therapies, electroshock and compassion, a lot of compassion. Let's not forget the pain, the fear and the rejection in our looks towards them. If we add this, we can put the hand in the fire that it will be a failure assured.


That's why it's important to remember that there are always better ways to act. But if our society feels sick, we will not be able to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for all.


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