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Interview with John Nash: Non-Conformity

John NashSomebody suggested that I was a prodigy. Another time it was suggested that I should be called "bug brains", because I had ideas, but they were sort of buggy or not perfectly sound. So that might have been an anticipation of mental problems. I mean, taking it at face value.

There wasn't any insanity though at the time. There were some non-conforming behaviors. I would do odd things one way or another. So there's the total pattern. To some extent, sanity is a form of conformity. And to some extent, people who are insane are non-conformists and society and their family wishes, like Alicia and I wish with Johnny, that they would live what appear to be useful lives. They would work. They would earn money.

They'd be ready to have family life. They would continue the family tree and that sort of thing. But there are always people who are not doing that, and it may be that they're in insane asylums or without being in an asylum, they're in the category of the mentally ill.

But of course society doesn't need that everybody is behaving in the full normal way. So society goes along and people can do different things, and they can't somehow contribute. So there are these people who in a way seem not to contribute at all. They could be like people who are maybe accepted if they're in some religious institution some role that's accepted like maybe a Buddhist monastery, so they could just do prayers and follow a daily ritual and wear a certain robe, and it's considered quite appropriate. But they're not doing much in terms of the gross national product.

But I think the eccentricity may also connect with the irrational -- maybe people who are minimally eccentric are maybe least likely to go into insanity or something, it could be. Of course, for this, you need statistics.

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