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Abnormal Psychology in the Media Essay

The film “A Beautiful Mind” (Grazer, 2001) tells of the true life of John Nash, a Nobel Prize winner who has struggled the majority of his life with paranoid schizophrenia. This essay will evaluate John Nash’s exhibited behaviors, and how therapists from the 5 perspectives of abnormal psychology would have treated his illness.

At the beginning of the movie “A beautiful Mind” (Grazer, 2001), John Nash is moving into a dorm room at Princeton University in 1947. John Nash appears slightly strange by exhibiting social withdrawal by avoiding people, along with a drop in school performance as he does not attend his classes. Soon visual hallucinations become apparent as Charles; his roommate makes appearances with his niece Marcie throughout the movie, along with Parcher, the head of the Department of Defense, who appears later in the movie as John Nash’s hallucinations become worse. John Nash begins to believe that he is employed by the Department of Defense, deciphering secret codes from the Soviets. As John’s hallucinations peak, he is admitted to a mental hospital under the care of Dr. Rosen, who diagnoses him with advanced schizophrenia. During the hospital stay, John received Thorazine injections, rendering him unconscious.

John is seen during his stay at the hospital restrained to a chair, as well as a bed. During the time that he is restrained to a bed, Doctor Rosen is seen administering insulin injections, resulting in seizure activity as John’s wife is viewing the procedure through a window. Doctor Rosen tells Johns wife, Alicia that John must have insulin therapy several times a week in order to get well. Once John has returned home, he is seen taking two pink tablets several times a day. John appears to be keeping to himself while trying to deal with the effects of his medication; he decides to stop taking it without anyone knowing. Soon Alicia discovers that John is again having hallucinations of working for the department of defense requiring John to return to Doctor Rosen.

After John resumes his medications, he begins to realize that Charles, Marcie and Parcher are not real. John goes to his friend Martin, who is in charge of the math department at Princeton University, asking for permission to sit in classes in order for him to get back into society which results in John gaining a teaching position after learning to deal with his illness by ignoring his hallucinations. The five perspectives of abnormal psychology are: biological, psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive, and sociocultural. The biological model of abnormal psychology “focuses on genetics, neurotransmitters, brain changes, and other physical factors” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012 Pg. 23). Treatment through this model would begin with a “diagnostic interview along with images of the brain structure from an MRI” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 25).

After these evaluations, a therapist would decide on the treatment necessary to treat the disorder such as therapy, social training skills, vocational rehabilitation, and medications. John Nash would possibly be given dopamine which “generally has antipsychotic effects easing the symptoms of schizophrenia” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 25) and therapy. According to Saul McLeod (2007) the biological approach believes that most behavior is inherited and has an adaptive function. Biological factors such as hormones, chromosomes, and the brain have significant influence on behavior, in the case of John Hall having schizophrenia; biological psychologists believe that levels of dopamine are the cause (Pg. 6).

The psychodynamic model of abnormal psychology “focuses on internal personality characteristics” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 25). Treatments from this perspective would begin with a “therapist exploring the patients past for unresolved conflicts” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 30). “Other treatments would be the use of free association, or dream analysis” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 31). In John Nash’s circumstance, the psychodynamic model therapist would be looking into his past for the answer to his hallucinations. According to Laura Saunders (2011) the goal of the psychodynamic model therapist is to enable the patient to gain access to their repressed ideas and conflicts encouraging them to face up to whatever emerges from their unconscious (Pg. 1).

The humanistic model of abnormal psychology “focuses on personal growth, choice, and responsibility” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 23), that “Assumes the person’s behavior is determined by perceptions of themselves and others” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 33). The humanistic models treatment begins with “qualitative assessments to find out the unique characteristics of the client, and their perceptions of the world. The therapist will then engage the client in conversations so that the client can develop solutions to their problems” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 34).

Treating John Nash with this type of therapy would include conversations about his hallucinations in order for him to develop his own solutions. According to Kendra Cherry (2013) therapists from the humanistic model of abnormal psychology are focused on the individual’s potential and stress the importance of growth and self-actualization. The fundamental belief of the humanistic model is that people are innately good and that mental and social problems result from deviations from natural tendency (Pg. 1).

The cognitive-behavioral model of abnormal psychology “focuses on specific thoughts and learning experiences” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 23). Treatment from the cognitive-behavioral model would include a “functional analysis, evaluating antecedents and consequences of behavior, followed by cognitive-behavioral therapy to change patterns of thinking and behaviors that are contributing to the patients problems” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 38), and “exposure treatment, which involves directly confronting the patients problem, or token economy, which reinforces certain behaviors with rewards” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 39), which John Nash, would possible be involved in, earning points for positive behaviors, and attending therapy.

According to Jean Galica (2013), the cognitive behavioral model is an approach designed to change mental images, thoughts and thought patterns in order to help the patient overcome emotional and behavioral problems. This model is based upon a theory that behaviors and emotions are caused in part by cognitions and cognitive processes that the patient can learn to change (Pg. 3). The sociocultural model of abnormal psychology focuses on “external environmental events and includes the family systems perspective” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 23). Therapy within this model would consist of an “assessment of the patient’s culture, family structure, dynamics, and environment in order to understand the person’s mental health” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 44).

As therapists from this model focus on addressing the patients problems in order to decrease or prevent stress, along with having family and couples therapy in order to include multiple family members into the therapy” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 44). Within this model, John Hall would have attended both individual therapy as well as couples therapy with his wife. According to Sheila Grant (N.D.) therapists from the sociocultural model believe that abnormal behavior may be found in the failures of society rather than from within the person, and that psychological problems can be rooted in requiring the therapist to look deep within the person’s relationships and social life (Pg. 7).

This writer feels that the biological method of abnormal psychology is the best to treat John Nash’s schizophrenia since it “focuses on genetics, neurotransmitters, brain changes, and other physical factors” (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 23). Along with the fact that treatment begins with a diagnostic interview containing MRI brain images (Kearney, C., & Trull, T., 2012, Pg. 25) before a treatment plan for schizophrenia would begin. According to NIMA.Gov (2013) it has been long known that schizophrenia can be inherited, that there are several genes associated with the disease (Pg. 1) resulting in treatments being based upon eliminating the patients symptoms by using medications such as: “antipsychotic medications to help normalize the biochemical imbalances, controlling hallucinations, delusions and confusion, along with supportive therapies” (Grohol, J., 2011, Pg. 1). References

Cherry, K. (2013). Humanistic Psychology. Retrieved 2/19/2013, from http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/hist_humanistic.htm?p=1 Galica, J. (2013). Behavioral/Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved 2/19/2013, from http://www.theravive.com/research/Cognitive-Behavioral_Therapy Grant, S. (n.d.). Introduction and Methods of Research. Retrieved 2/19/2013, from http://www.csun.edu/~hcpsy002/psy310_Nevid_cho1_Lecture_Handout.pdf Grazer, B. (Producer) & Howard, R. (Director). (2001). A Beautiful Mind [Motion picture]. United States: Universal. Grohol, J. (2011). Psych Central: schizophrenia Treatment. Retrieved 2/19/2013, from
http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx31t.htm Kearney, C., & Trull, T. (2012). Abnormal Psychology and Life A Dimensional Approach. Belmont, California: Wadsworth. McLeod, S. (2007). Psychology Perspectives. Retrieved 2/18/2013, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/perspective.html Saunders, L. (2011). The Psychodynamic Model of Abnormality. Retrieved 2/19/2013, from http://alevelpsychology.co.uk/as-psychology-aqa-a/psychology/the-psychodynamic nimh.gov (2013). What Causes Schizophrenia?. Retrieved 2/19/2013, from http://www.nimh.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia/what-causes-schizophrenia.sht

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