Many people who are not really involved in the world of science learned who John Nash was after the movie A Beautiful Mind was released, starring Russel Crowe. To a certain point, the film idealizes the mathematician and John Nash himself even pointed this out after he watched the film. However, there is a more realistic and almost completely unknown documentary called A Brilliant Madness.
Youth and college
In his childhood, Nash hated math and he didn’t have good grades in school. In his autobiography, he says that everything changed after he read Men of Mathematics by E.T. Bell. It was written in such a gripping and simple way that after he read it, he was able to prove a simple theorem.
Of course, Nash entered the math department as a student and before that, he managed to acquire some knowledge in chemical engineering and international economics. For his outstanding achievement, John received not only his bachelor’s, but also his master’s, and he was on his way to develop himself at Princeton University. He had a note from his former teacher that said, “He is a mathematical genius.”
His ex-classmates claim that John was obsessed with money and incredibly stingy. Once, they pranked him and told him that there was a bank that gave envelopes and stamps for free to people who opened accounts there. He searched and searched but was unable to find this wonderful bank.
During his first years as a student, he had his first serious romantic relationship and few people knew about it. The relationship ended in a really painful separation and as a result, John had a son who he never had contact with.
Despite his love life problems, Nash was determined to do what he wanted. He was 21 years old when he wrote a dissertation at Princeton about the game theory. 45 years later, he will win the Nobel Prize for this theory.
Marriage and the first signs of his disease
After he finished his postgraduate studies, John decided to stay at Princeton to teach students and also worked with some companies.
He was 26 years old when the police detained him for obscene behavior. We don’t know the details of that story, but it is likely that this case was the first sign of John’s psychological problems. More than that, John lost his privileges at work: he no longer had access to secret information.
A little later, John married his student Alicia Lard who was only 4 years younger than him. One year later, Fortune magazine names Nash “a rising math star” and his wife got pregnant. At about the same time, the first signs of his schizophrenia started to show.