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The Cold War’s Impact on John Nash’s Schizophrenia
As a brilliant mathematician, John Nash used his game theory and other findings to influence political and economic decisions in the post-World War II world. Nash also received the Nobel Prize in Economics because of his great contribution to the study of economics and the world economic development. However, Nash’s mental breakdown around the 1960s prevented him from conducting deeper researches and making a greater impact on the society. Reasons for his mental illness are frequently analyzed. Among several factors that might lead to or aggravate Nash’s psychological disease, the world situation under the Cold War is often overlooked by experts. However, this factor need to get certain attention because several events occurred in the Cold War period played a significant role in causing Nash’s schizophrenia and his relapse. In this paper, I will prove that the Cold War led to Nash’s mental illness by analyzing related policies and events.

A Brief Biography of John Nash
Before analyzing the causes of Nash’s schizophrenia, I would first give a brief introduction of John Nash. John Forbes Nash, Jr. was born in Bluefield, West Virginia in 1928. Nash showed his mathematical genius at a very young age and had already got a deep understanding of mathematics and other science studies before attending Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). Later Nash pursued his PhD at Princeton University. He wrote a dissertation on “Non-cooperative Games”, which was subsumed into his groundbreaking work in game theory, a study that applied to virtually every field of work. In the 1950s, during his work at the RAND Corporation, Institute of Advanced Study, an...

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...sudden change that have social and psychological implication”. When people experienced such a rapid change in their worldview, they would feel extremely stressful and might eventually have mental breakdown. Nash’s situation certainly applied to this theory. Moreover, Nash might also had a sense of social defeat, “the loss of social rank and stigma” that might led to the outbreak of schizophrenia. In Nash’s case, the loss of job at RAND implied the loss of social rank, and suspected homosexuality marked a stigma on Nash’s reputation. Furthermore, there was a positive relationship between PTSD and schizophrenia. Some trauma from the arrest experience could triggered the development of Nash’s mental illness. On balance, the Cold War situation led to Nash’s arrival at and departure from RAND, which created a condition that resulted in his outbreak of schizophrenia.

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