I don’t doubt that John Forbes Nash suffered with a mental disease for a large portion of his life, but I am unsure whether or not a Schizophrenic can just decide not to be Schizophrenic. John Nash stated in his interview that he decided one day that he would just put those irrational thoughts aside and choose not to listen to them. I work with the mentally ill, and I have seen first-hand how Schizophrenics suffer through their symptoms, and I just cannot picture any of them deciding to one day put those paranoid thoughts and beliefs aside or deciding that they are just not going to listen to them anymore. For example, there was one Schizophrenic in particular that would spend almost the entire day talking to a phone book. He was always in and out of the hospital, and he would have conversations with the phone book he would carry around all day, every single day. To me, if this person were to just consciously decide to stop talking to the phone book, it would be somewhat of a miracle, even if the recovery was gradual as in John Nash’s case. But then again, this person is not a mathematical genius with incredible intelligent capacities, either. John Nash is an exception to the rule—obviously his mind is built and works differently compared to the Average Joe. We are all built differently, so who is to say it can’t happen?
For example, according to an article on the American Psychological Association’s website, thanks to longitudinal studies which involve psychosocial rehabilitation, many Schizophrenics have indeed recovered and gone on to live productive lives (McGuire, 2000). The article, entitled “New Hope for People with Schizophrenia“, several individuals with diagnosed Schizophrenia encounter periods of recovery followed by relapses throughout their lives (McGuire, 2000). Some do recover completely. Of course, the severity of psychosis does contribute to the individual’s chances of recovery among several other factors.
The video below describes the remarkable life of the Noble Prize holder John Forbes Nash as he encountered the sudden onset of psychosis till the time of his very lengthy and gradual recovery.