John Forbes Nash

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John Forbes Nash was born in 1928 as the son of an electrician and a schoolteacher. Eve as a young boy his family and the friends of the family noticed he wasn’t much like other boys. He played alone, and showed a great interest in books. His mother encouraged his behaviour by making sure his school did a good job and also teaching him herself. His father treated him as an adult and gave him advanced materials that were not in any way fit for such a young boy.
His younger sister Martha were often told that she should help him get friends, but a young girl like Martha was not really keen on showing of her strange brother.
He had a strange upbringing, even if his family loved him. But somehow this upbringing must have had an effect since when he applied to Princeton University in 1948 he received a letter of recommendation from his Carnegie Tech professor, R.J. Duffin. This letter of recom-mendation consisted of only five short words: "This man is a genius".
While studying at Princeton he wrote a paper that would later give him the Nobel Price.
As he grew older he seemed to develop paranoid schizophrenia. Some say that he developed the disease much earlier, but it was not taking on a very powerful form until 1958 or so.
After he was released from the mental institution where he was being held against his will he went out and explored the world. He went to Europe and roamed America before returning to Princeton where he became nothing but shadow, a ghostly character sitting in the library and walking around at the great campus.
In 1994 he was nominated for the Nobel Price, which he finally shared with two other mathematicians.

Some people say that John Nash developed his schizophrenia very early, maybe even while he attended Princeton. Some people also say that the line between being a genius and being insane is hair thin. By standing out from the group he made a name for himself of being a “weirdo”. This isolated him further and perhaps gave him more time with his free studies and theories.
It’s hard to imagine how proud he was when his first paper was published. Being alone with schizophrenia can get ugly and is nothing anyone would like to be forced to do. But Nash couldn’t possibly understand that he was sick, and since he spent so much time alone it’s not very likely someone else did either.
While he was married he was still seemed to be haunted by hallucinations and similar phenomena, and no one knew about it.
I don’t really think that the disease was the greatest negative influence on Nash’ behaviour, his upbringing made him outstanding and incapable of fitting in socially. This is common; people with social problems are often faced with an odd or unusual upbringing. It’s hard to figure out if the schizophrenia was inherited, if it was caused by the lack of friendship or if it was just an unlucky coincidence. Perhaps it was caused by stress or trauma, it’s hard to tell.
One fact we know for sure is that it had too much time to work, without medication and proper treatment. Perhaps it could have been prevented, but then what would have happened to John Nash. If he had gotten his treatment in the earliest stadium of the disease, then what would have happened? If his symptoms started as early as some say, he might not have developed his famous game theory. Or maybe some of his other work would never have been published. Maybe the disease struck him much later. Then he might have created even more astonishing theories, or maybe ...

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Inactive member [2006-03-04]   John Forbes Nash
Mimers Brunn [Online]. [2018-12-16]

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