The intricacies and abnormalities of the human psyche have captured the imaginations of authors, and filmmakers for years. Artistic views on mental disorders are often the subject of many notable films. Two movies, produced in the year 2001, take mental illness and craft incredibly distinct outlooks on personal perception. These two movies – K-Pax and A Beautiful Mind – are memorable achievements in the depiction of severe mental illnesses. Both force viewers to reconsider their perceptions of reality while growing to respect the power of the human mind.
The movie K-Pax revolves around the character Prot, a committed psychiatric institute resident that believes he is from another planet. His psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Powell, attempts (and finally succeeds) to devise his true identity and past through a series of discussions and hypnosis sessions. Though Prot is eventually revealed to be suffering from multiple personality disorder and post-traumatic stress, the ending of the film distorts the account. In exact accordance with a claim he made earlier in the movie, he becomes unresponsive on July 27th while another patient disappears. This movie causes viewers to question the truth of Prot’s claims and the complications surrounding multiple personality disorder. It also brings into question people’s personal perceptions; should port be considered right, in that events unfolded as he predicted? Or is he simple a PTSD patient with other severe disorder incapable of distinguishing his delusions from reality?
In A Beautiful Mind, the events are vastly different. Intelligent, successful main character John Nash, while working in government programs, develops a secret life breaking Russian Soviet codes. However, it is soon discovered that Nash is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and that his employer, along with the employer’s family, are hallucinations. Only after some psychiatric care and personal growth does Nash come to this realization himself. Unlike the character of Prot in K-Pax, it appears that Nash eventually recognizes his own mental illness and develops ways to manage it. Again, the movie works to highlight the difficulties and intense realities of people experiencing mental illness, and leads us to question our own everyday perceptions.