As Nash begins to recover, his newfound clarity of mind begins to seem more like a “loss” than a sign of remission: Nash feels that the powers of mind he had before the onset of his illness are now lost to him. Nonetheless, with the help of former colleagues and some Princeton faculty members, he is able to secure a one-year research appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study.
Throughout A Beautiful Mind, Nasar shows that Nash’s mental illness in some ways compounded his own mental abilities: it seemed to make his powerful mind even sharper. As with many other sufferers of schizophrenia, Nash experiences his recovery as a kind of “loss.” He no longer experiences intricate, powerful delusions, which—though they ruptured his own sanity—created a compelling fantasy world.
Nash and Alicia are now living together in Princeton again, sharing a home with Alicia’s parents. Nash attempts to care for his son and makes some visits to Eleanor and John Stier. At last, Nash is able to work again, and he finishes a paper on fluid dynamics, which is well-received by the math community. However, Nash still hopes to leave the United States and return to France: he begins learning French and attempts to translate some of his papers into French.
Though Nash seems to be somewhat recovered, he is still paranoid about his own American citizenship—hence his desire to return to Europe—and continues to exhibit strange behavior, suggesting that he is still finding it difficult to maintain his grip on reality.
In June 1962, Nash attends a conference in Paris. The other attendees are surprised that Nash is able to deliver his paper, which is received as “respectable” research. Yet Nash is still exhibiting “decidedly odd” behavior—for example, insisting to other guests that his food has been poisoned. By the time he returns to Princeton at the end of the summer, his condition has worsened, and Alicia decides to initiate divorce proceedings. In May 1963, the divorce is granted without a trial, and Alicia is awarded custody of John Charles.
Despite Alicia’s best efforts, she realizes that she can no longer handle caring for Nash: the strain her sacrifices for him have caused are taking a toll on her well-being and their marriage.
Colleagues at Princeton and MIT help to set up a fund for Nash with the goal of sending him to the University of Michigan, where he will be treated at the psychiatry clinic while working as a statistician in the clinic’s research program. Donald Spencer is enlisted to help convince Nash to accept the arrangement, but Nash insists that he isn’t ill and therefore doesn’t need hospitalization. As a result, Martha, Virginia, and Alicia decided that Nash would again have to be committed to a hospital in New Jersey.
Nash’s colleagues, like Alicia, believe that he will have the best chance of recovery if he is in an academic environment, where he can be around colleagues and conduct research. But Nash’s stubbornness makes it impossible for him to accept help: like many sufferers of schizophrenia, he finds it difficult to accept that he is ill at all.