Friday, 13 June 2014
John Forbes Nash, Jr. (born June 13, 1928) is an American mathematician whose works in game theory, differential geometry, and partial differential equations have provided insight into the factors that govern chance and events inside complex systems in daily life. His theories are used in market economics, computing, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, accounting, politics and military theory. Serving as a Senior Research Mathematician atPrinceton University during the latter part of his life, he shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with game theorists Reinhard Selten andJohn Harsanyi.
Nash is the subject of the 2001 Hollywood movie A Beautiful Mind. The film, loosely based on the biography of the same name, focuses on Nash's mathematical genius and also his schizophrenia.
He was born in Bluefield, West Virginia. His parents and grandparents provided books and encyclopedias that he learned from. Nash's grandmother played piano at home, and Nash had positive memories of listening to her when he visited. Nash's parents pursued opportunities to supplement their son's education, and arranged for him to take advanced mathematics courses at a local community college during his final year of high school. Nash attended Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) with a full scholarship, the George Westinghouse Scholarship, and initially majored in Chemical Engineering. He switched to Chemistry, and eventually to Mathematics.
Nash's advisor and former Carnegie Tech professor R. J. Duffin wrote a letter of recommendation consisting of a single sentence: "This man is a genius." Nash was accepted by Harvard University, but the chairman of the mathematics department of Princeton, Solomon Lefschetz, offered him the John S. Kennedy fellowship, which was enough to convince Nash that Harvard valued him less. Nash also considered Princeton more favorably because of its geographic location much closer to his family in Bluefield. He went to Princeton where he worked on his equilibrium theory.
In 1951, Nash went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a C. L. E. Moore Instructor in the mathematics faculty. There, he met Alicia Lopez-Harrison de Lardé (born January 1, 1933), a naturalized U.S. citizen from El Salvador. De Lardé graduated from M.I.T., having majored in physics. They married in February 1957 at a Catholic ceremony, although Nash was an atheist. Nash experienced the first symptoms of mental illness in early 1959, when his wife was pregnant with their child.
He resigned his position as member of the M.I.T. mathematics faculty in the spring of 1959. Nash's wife admitted Nash to the McLean Hospital for schizophrenia in 1959; their son, John Charles Martin Nash, was born soon afterward, but remained nameless for a year because his mother felt that her husband should have a say in the name. Nash and de Lardé divorced in 1963, though after his final hospital discharge in 1970, Nash lived in de Lardé's house. They remarried in 2001.
Nash began to show signs of extreme paranoia and his wife later described his behavior as erratic, as he began speaking of characters like Charles Herman and William Parcher who were putting him in danger. Nash seemed to believe that all men who wore red ties were part of a communist conspiracy against him. Nash mailed letters to embassies in Washington, D.C., declaring that they were establishing a government.
He was admitted to the McLean Hospital, April–May 1959, where he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The clinical picture is dominated by relatively stable, often paranoid, fixed beliefs that are either false, over-imaginative or unrealistic, usually accompanied by experiences of seemingly real perception of something not actually present — particularly auditory and perceptional disturbances, a lack of motivation for life, and mild clinical depression.
He has described a process of change "from scientific rationality of thinking into the delusional thinking characteristic of persons who are psychiatrically diagnosed as 'schizophrenic' or 'paranoid schizophrenic'"including seeing himself as a messenger or having a special function in some way, and with supporters and opponents and hidden schemers, and a feeling of being persecuted, and looking for signs representing divine revelation.
Nash has suggested his delusional thinking was related to his unhappiness and his striving to feel important and be recognized, and to his characteristic way of thinking such that "I wouldn't have had good scientific ideas if I had thought more normally." He has said, "If I felt completely pressureless I don't think I would have gone in this pattern".
He does not see a categorical distinction between terms such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Nash reports that he did not hear voices until around 1964, later engaging in a process of rejecting them. He reports that he was always taken to hospitals against his will, and only temporarily renounced his "dream-like delusional hypotheses" after being in a hospital long enough to decide to superficially conform – to behave normally or to experience "enforced rationality".
Only gradually on his own did he "intellectually reject" some of the "delusionally influenced" and "politically oriented" thinking as a waste of effort. However, by 1995, although he was "thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists," he says he also felt more limited.