A Beautiful Mind – Genius and Madness Are Close Neighbors


Have you seen "A Beautiful Mind" with Russell Crowe? The film is based on a true story about a brilliant mathematician coming to grips with schizophrenia, and it won four Academy Awards in 2001.

I've seen it a second time last week and was again captivated not only by Crowe's performance, but especially by the fascinating illustration of how powerful the human mind is.

While Professor Nash lectures at a famous American university, he is approached by secret service agents to decipher a code which the enemies of democracy use for their subversive activities, threatening national security. For years he works with the agents, exploring millions of connections and possibilities to conceal the mystery – until his wife finds out about his hidden life and supports him on the way out of the mess.

It turns out that all the persons involved in the undercover plot are totally fictitious, they only existed in the Professor's mind – so real for him, that he had developed a complete second identity around his scenario. His weird behavior under these circumstances was clearly labeled 'madness' by his 'normal' peers – and yet he won a Nobel Prize for his academic work a few years later.

Genius and madness are close neighbors, they say – assuming for a minute that you and I do not fall into either of these categories, what is the lesson for 'normal' people here? As far as I'm concerned, I show more consideration for the unusual conduct of people these days.

Who am I to judge others for things I do not understand? I know that I have some blind spots, and may be that odd fellow I saw in the mall yesterday is a genius working out the quadrature of the circle.

What's more, I am reminded that I, too live in my own world – like you do in yours.

A lot of things occupy my mind every day which directly influence my actions because I am absolutely convinced that they are perfectly sensible.

Most of the time you would not find strange what I do, I suppose, but I am sure that some people wonder who the fool is that spends an hour on a perfect Sunday afternoon writing articles like this.

What's on your mind? Do you want to be president of your bowling club? Climb Mount Kilimanjaro? That's OK, but I personally could not be bothered.

The point is that we are who we think we are, literally. I am not a professor, and I do not want to win the Nobel Prize – but I want to write and that's OK, too. Who knows, may be they'll give me the Pulitzer Prize one of these days – call me crazy.

Source by Berend Lange


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