Schizophrenia often bears the weight of a misunderstood reputation in our society. It’s unfairly painted with strokes of delusions, erratic behavior, and the haunting specter of homelessness. Yet, within the labyrinth of this complex condition, some of the brightest minds in our world have emerged, challenging our conceptions.
Picture for a moment John Forbes Nash Junior, a brilliant mind that stepped onto the edge of sanity. He tripped through life under the spell of an insane fantasy — his conviction that he was a spy tasked with decoding a communist conspiracy. But in the end the plot was revealed as a lie of his own making when in 1959 his behavior placed him in the hospital. In the twenty years that followed, Nash spent several periods in treatment. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that his ex wife Alicia welcomed him home back home and his symptoms finally eased.
But John Nash was no fool. In the 1950’s while studying at Princeton University, he solved Hilbert’s Nineteenth problem. You might know it as the Nash Equilibrium and it is still pivotal to this day in economics, game theory, retail and a variety of problems.
The premise of the Nash Equilibrium is that in every situation, there is a strategy where both players can achieve an optimal outcome while still knowing the intentions of the other player. Let’s say for a minute that you’re arrested and charged with armed robbery, and a friend of yours is too. You could,
- Betray your friend. You get nothing and your friend gets ten years. Or your friend betrays you.
- You both stay silent, and you both serve a year.
- Or you betray each other and both serve five years.
While it might be counterintuitive, your best option in the Nash Equilibrium is to betray each other and serve five years. This strategy satisfies the equilibrium since you are both aware of each other’s intentions.
In the kaleidoscope of schizophrenia, Nash’s story becomes a testament to the unexpected genius that can arise from the depths of such a misunderstood condition.
Yet Nash’s delusions aren’t even unique to him,
We are all deceived!
In reality our realities are all (mostly) a construct of our minds. Our eyes, ears, and touch are only of limited use. The rest is left to our minds to build. You only have to look as far as an optical illusion, where the lines are straight and of equal length. But our mind will declare that the opposite is true.
Then there is the problem of color, another illusion of the mind. In actuality, all color is only a wavelength of light. Red is about 700 nanometers, and red is no more real than our hallucinations of unequal lines in an illusion. The colors are all an ancient invention of our minds.
Our brains predict the rest of the world that we can’t perceive! And occasionally it makes mistakes and we call it hallucinations. And sometimes this hallucinations are ingenious spy fantasies worthy of a hospital stay.
“There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.”
― Robert Evans, The Kid Stays in the Picture