John Forbes Nash, Jr.
I was on the mathematics faculty at M.I.T. from 1951 through until I resigned in the spring of 1959.
I would finally renounce my delusional hypotheses and revert to thinking of myself as a human of more conventional circumstances and return to mathematical research.
I had been offered fellowships to enter as a graduate student at either Harvard or Princeton. But the Princeton fellowship was somewhat more generous, since I had not actually won the Putnam competition… Thus Princeton became the choice for my graduate study location.
I know that if I could really understand mental illness, then it would be appropriate to make a big career shift. I would become a therapist and a leader in terms of mental illness. But I’m not in the position.
To some extent, people who are insane are nonconformists, and society and their family wish they would live what appear to be useful lives.
It’s almost as if a demon might have passed from one host to another.
I went to M.I.T. in the summer of 1951 as a ‘C.L.E. Moore Instructor.’ I had been an instructor at Princeton for one year after obtaining my degree in 1950. It seemed desirable more for personal and social reasons than academic ones to accept the higher-paying instructorship at M.I.T.
I never saw my grandfather because he had died before I was born, but I have good memories of my grandmother and of how she could play the piano at the old house.
There are things that tend to moderate with age. Schizophrenia is somewhat like that.
As a graduate student I studied mathematics fairly broadly, and I was fortunate enough, besides developing the idea which led to ‘Non-Cooperative Games,’ also to make a nice discovery relating to manifolds and real algebraic varieties.
I did have strange ideas during certain periods of time.
Though I had success in my research both when I was mad and when I was not, eventually I felt that my work would be better respected if I thought and acted like a ‘normal’ person.
I later spent… five to eight months in hospitals in New Jersey, always on an involuntary basis, and always attempting a legal argument for release.
I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists. However, this is not entirely a matter of joy as if someone returned from physical disability to good physical health.
People are always selling the idea that people with mental illness are suffering. I think madness can be an escape. If things are not so good, you maybe want to imagine something better.