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Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2011 - 16:45:13 


Schizophrenia and its Treatment
By Cynthia Kirkeby, Sarah Lane
May 4, 2004, 01:04 PST

Mindwalk (1991)

Schizophrenia and its Treatment

Movies in the Classroom


Courtesy of Nobel eMuseum

Grade Level - college

Subject – Science, Psychology, Medicine

Keywords – Science, Psychology, schizophrenia, insulin therapy, John Nash, A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe, John Forbes Nash, Economic Sciences, Nobel Prize, nami

Author - Cynthia F. Kirkeby 

Affiliation - ClassBrain, Inc.

Date - 3 May, 2002

Duration – 1-2 class periods



Schizophrenia is a disabling and emotionally devastating disease of the brain. Although most people think of schizophrenia as the same thing as a split personality or a multiple personality, that’s not the case. People with schizophrenia have difficulty telling the difference between what is real and what is generated by their imagination.

The treatment of this debilitating brain disease has been equally elusive with only 1 in 5 recovering completely.



Watch A Beautiful Mind and the Internet documents listed below. Discuss the historical treatment of schizophrenics and whether it has been shown to be effective.

  • Was insulin shock therapy a viable clinical treatment?
  • Was John Nash an unusual case, or do you think that many schizophrenic patients can be taught to function in society with without medication?
  • What are the dangers and/or advantages of this type of treatment?
  • What is the difference between the treatment of schizophrenia in 1960-1970 and today?
  • What treatments are being pioneered today for schizophrenia?

Resources & Materials


A Beautiful Mind

Internet resources

Available worksheets



Film 1:  A Beautiful Mind (2001)


  • Synopsis
    DreamWorks & Universal Pictures 2001

This is the story of John Forbes Nash, who won the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences in 1994, and his battle with Schizophrenia.


  • Genre(s) –Drama, Romance
  • Rating - Rated PG-13 for intense thematic material, sexual content and a scene of violence
  • Family Rating – Screen-It
  • Running Time – 1hr 14 min


  • Primary Actors – Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer
  • Director – Ron Howard       
  • Music  - James Horner
  • Screenplay – Akiva Goldsman
  • Producers – Brian Grazer, Todd Hallowell, Ron Howard, Karen Kehela, Kathleen McGill, Maureen Peyrot, Aldric La’Auli Porter, Louisa Velis
  • Studio - Imagine Entertainment, DreamWorks, Universal Pictures

Reading Connections


Related Internet Sources


Official Site

Test your I.Q., exercise your mind with some puzzles, and learn all about A Beautiful Mind.  See formulas in action and find out who played what part.

Source:              Universal Studios

Reading Level:    Moderate

A Brilliant Madness

PBS brings you an ‘American Experience’ and the story of Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash.  Browse through special features, a timeline, gallery, an interview with Nash and a Q & A forum.  Teacher’s resources are also available.

         Timeline of Mental Illness Treatment

Take a look at this detailed time line describing the various treatments of mental illness from 400 B.C.-1949 and also from the 1950’s-1992.

Source:              PBS Online

Reading Level:   Moderate


Mind Over Matter

Dr. Tim Johnson covers all the bases as he dissects the portrayal of a schizophrenic in, A Beautiful Mind.

Source:              ABC News Internet Ventures

Reading Level:   Moderate


Understanding Schizophrenia

Join Alan S. Brown, MD, for an informational discussion covering definition, diagnosis, treatment, and care of schizophrenia.

Source:              Microsoft Corporation

Reading Level:   Moderate


The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

Find out what members of NAMI are saying about the film as well as information, programs, advocacy, research, and support.

Source:              NAMI, The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness

Reading Level:   Advanced


The Insulin Treatment Of Schizophrenia

Read more on this form of treatment and see why its use had been discontinued.  There are statistical results, an overview of patients, the risks of treatment, the techniques used and more.

Source:                   From An Introduction to Physical Methods of Treatment in Psychiatry (First Edition) by William Sargant and Eliot Slater (1944, Edinburgh, E & S Livingstone).

Reading Level:    Advanced

History of Schizophrenia

Here’s the history of schizophrenia from the earliest descriptions to the here and now.  There are many useful sources of information.


Reading Level:   Advanced



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