A Beautiful Mind: Kisah Hidup Seorang Genius Penderita Sakit Jiwa yang Meraih Hadiah Nobel
by Sylvia Nasar
Buku pemenang National Book Critics Circle Award 1998 untuk Biografi, dan finalis Pulitzer Prize. Buku yang menjadi inspirasi film produksi DreamWorks dan Universal Pictures yang dibintangi oleh Russell Crowe.
John Forbes Nash, Jr. adalah salah satu genius matematika Amerika Serikat paling menonjol diantara teman-teman segenerasinya. Pada usia dua puluh satu tahun ia adalah seorang mahasiswa pascasarjana yang cemerlang, bandel, menyebalkan, sekaligus sangat eksentrik di Princeton University ketika ia menemukan beberapa prinsip matematika-yang kini disebut Kesetimbangan Nash-yang sangat penting untuk teori permainan atau Game Theory. Pada usia tiga puluh satu tahun, tatkala sedang berada di puncak kariernya yang cemerlang serta tidak lama setelah menikah dengan seorang fisikawan muda yang cantik, Nash mendadak menderita mental breakdown yang sangat merusak dan belakangan didiagnosis menderita skizofrenia. Di bawah terpaan khayal-khayal yang menyiksa, dan membuatnya tidak berdaya, serta berulangkali harus meringkuk di balik tembok rumah sakit jiwa, Nash terpaksa menghabiskan tiga dasawarsa berikutnya sebagai sosok pendiam yang hanya sesekali muncul bak hantu di lingkungan kampus Princeton University. Ketika usianya mencapai enam puluh tahun, kesehatannya semakin memburuk, dan keberadaannya praktis terlupakan, tiba-tiba dua keajaiban terjadi-yang pertama adalah kesembuhan yang hampir tak disangka-sangka dari skizofrenia, sedangkan yang kedua adalah keputusan Panitia Hadiah Nobel untuk menghargai prestasi gemilangnya di masa lampau. Dua mukjizat yang mengembalikan dunia kepadanya.
Saya: "Baru dua paragraf, tapi saya langsung terpikat! A Beautiful Mind sangat menarik, sangat menggugah, terutama ketika bercerita tentang kisah hidup Nash dan prestasi-prestasinya, serta wawasan simpatiknya yang mengagumkan ketika membahas kegeniusan dan skizofrenia."
"15 juli 1961, Nash keluar dari rumah sakit jiwa, Trenton. Nash mulai normal, tapi keadaan ini justru membuat Nash menjadi pendiam dan merasa ide-ide briliannya dicuri dari dirinya. Dia menyebutnya sebagai "selingan rasionalitas yang dipaksakan" kepadanya. Sebab dengan rasionya sekarang, dia kehilangan "gregetan" pada masa-masa dia "terganggu". Nash mulai menulis makalah dan bekerja di Princeton sebagai peneliti."
"Memasuki tahun 1990an, John Charles dan John David Stier sudah sama besar, pemuda tampan, tegap, tinggi, dengan otak cemerlang seperti bapaknya. Mereka masuk universitas, dapat beasiswa dan memenangi penghargaan. Namun John Charles menderita Skizofrenia sama seperti bapaknya. Alicia sangat menderita tapi dia sangat tabah. John David tidak terlalu suka pada bapaknya, meski dia bangga."
"5 Desember 1994, John Nash ke Bandara Newark untuk terbang ke Stockholm sebab dia akan menerima medali bergambar Alfred Nobel. Betapa mengharukan, setelah semua kegilaan yang dialaminya. Tuhan memang adil. Saya sedikit sentimentil."
Aimme: It's about how you can win over yourself for the sake of people you love. Very inspiring!
Hasanuddin: Bagaimana rasanya dunia yang kita jalani dan eksplorasi ternyata tidak nyata? Bagaimana rasanya diberi pilihan antara nyata dan tidak nyata, yang padahal keduanya serasa nyata semua? John Nash, ilmuwan, mengalaminya. Stempel Schizophrenia memberinya kehidupan "akulturasi" antara dunia nyata dan maya. Berkat kekuatan dan semangatnya, John Nash memadukan keahlian matematikanya dengan kekuatan psikologi meraih nobel. Sebuah penghargaan nobel tentang teori permainan (game theory).
April: The book conveys a convincing portrayal of mental illness; but, it is unpleasant to read. I found that I didn't enjoy spending so much time with a person who, in addition to being a genius, and mentally ill, was basically a creep. The movie was better - mainly because the screenplay converted Nash into a more likeable guy (helped to be played by Russell Crow). If you haven't read the book or seen the movie - I recommend the latter. But keep in mind it's not a terribly truthful portrayal.
Kirsten: This biography was the basis for the popular film "A Beautiful Mind" a few years ago. It's the fascinating story of an arrogant young mathematician who began his career with genius-level work in mathetmatics, succumbed to paranoid schizophrenia in his thirties, and ultimately experienced a remission in the late 80s and was awarded the Nobel Prize for his early work in game theory. Reading about Nash's early life and the beginning of his career, I couldn't help but notice that he was always rather an odd duck, even before he became delusional and was diagnosed as schizophrenic. I'm inclined to think that if he were a child now, it's fairly likely he would be diagnosed as having Asperger's or something similar, but that's just my uneducated opinion. His way of relating to the world was always sufficiently different that it took a long time for many of his colleagues to realize that his eccentricities had morphed into delusions. He was a genius, he was expected to behave oddly, and in some ways this both served as a measure of protection for him, and also may have prevented him from getting help earlier.
I have to admit that I actually really disliked John Nash for a lot of the book. Even when he was sane, he was arrogant, self-absorbed, and unkind. He must have had some good qualities, though, other than his genius, because what really saved him in the end was the willingness of his friends and family to stand by him and try to help him. Again and again during his illness, his colleagues arranged work for him, smoothed over scandals caused by his odd behavior, and assisted his wife and mother in providing him with care. At times, his friends were almost too caring -- not having the same intimate contact with Nash that his wife Alice did, many of them believed he was not as ill as he actually was, and were very upset when he was involuntarily committed. The many points of view Nasar provides really bring home what it's like when someone succumbs to mental illness, and the way it affects just about everyone the person comes into contact with, like ripples in a pond.
Nash's return to normality after years of delusional behavior is still something of a mystery to neuroscientists. This is not something that often happens in schizophrenic patients, which led some to posit that Nash may not have been schizophrenic, after all. Yet his behavior and experiences are much more consistent with schizophrenia than with any of the other illnesses, like biopolar disorder, that have been suggested. This leads to the conclusion that Nash is one of the lucky few who experience a near-complete remission after years of illness. I'd definitely recommend this biography to anyone with an interest in mathematics, mental illness, or who just likes a well-written biography.
Cepi: You feel that some people around is real but you haven't realize that they're never stand. You feel that all of your dreams have realized but it never happened.
John Forbes Nash Jr., an extraordinary mathematician who get Nobel Prize in Economics (1994), was an odd guy, got himself far away in social, but in the other side bright in mathematic formula, the only thing he obsessed of.
Hard to imagine John got himself trapped in an absolutely harsh circumstance, in a labyrinth of schizophrenia. His toughness to face it along with his beloved family who always stand with make it a great life story.
Also, while there was not a language problem per se, the instances where there was a foul word used it was one of the foulest, and quite off-putting. And last but probably most of all I will not read it again because some of the anecdotes she chose to include about his life just plain made me uncomfortable. I felt a little bit like I had invaded his private life, because even though she never really gave details or was graphic, it just felt too inimately personal.