Essay, Research Paper: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest 

Literature: One Flew Over The Cuckoo`s Nest

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This movie demonstrates much of what I despise about my fellow feeble-minded
Americans. In this movie, I saw stereotypes galore, and almost every cliche in
the book. For example, one voluntary patient is seeking therapy for his marital
problems. It seems that he and his wife were having "sexual" problems.
This ultimately leads everyone, patients and viewers alike, to believe that this
man must be gay. As if this weren't enough, we have to have the
"blind-deaf-and-dumb-guy", and of course, he's foreign! The central
character in this drama is Randal McMurphy. Mac is a new patient at the mental
institution. He was transferred from a nearby prison. He seems to have been
committed not for mental illness but because he is resistant to authority. In
the past he has been arrested for such things as assault and statutory rape. He
may be a criminal, and he may deserve to be in jail, but he is not insane. He
was just too much work for the prison guards "cause I don't sit there like
a goddamn vegetable" he says. I believe the only dangerous thing about Mac
is his desire to fight authority, and I believe the danger is only for the
authority figures. He may not go about his struggle in a lawful manner, but I do
believe he has some good, sane ideas and beliefs which he tries to maintain in
all of his situations. For example, in jail, he didn't feel it was right for the
authorities to demand he act as a "vegetable" and I agree with him. In
the institution, he felt that decisions should be made democratically and
fairly, and he fought for this belief, which inevitably lead to punishment by
ECT . Another influential character in this movie is Billy. Billy has some
obvious self-esteem issues. I feel the portion of the film that we viewed in
class only touches on his true character. Billy has a very obvious speech
impediment, which seems to make him reluctant in many ways. He is the character
that follows orders without question. He is threatened by Mac in many ways, but
excited by his ideas at the same time. Mac's presence in the institution
disrupts the routine that Billy has functioned so well under for so long. It is
possible that his naivety could be a dangerous attribute to himself, but I do
not feel that Billy is necessarily a dangerous individual. Chief is the
stereotyped blind-deaf-and-dumb character. Before Mac, everyone ignored his
presence, primarily on the basis of his silence. The other patients and staff
apparently never even tried to incorporate Chief into their activities. When Mac
comes along, he tries to utilize one of Chief's attributes, his height, in a
basketball game. After awhile, Chief catches on, to the astonishment of all
present, and helps Mac's team win a game. To the surprise to Mac, in a private
moment Chief speaks. This leads the audience to believe that perhaps this silent
man would only speak to those worthy of his words. Chief is not dangerous, only
cautious. The infamous Nurse Ratched is the head nurse on this floor. She leads
the therapy sessions and attempts to maintain order of her patients. She always
uses a calm and rational tone of voice and claims to know what is best for all
of her patients. The audience is lead to believe that she has some ulterior
motives for her decisions when she requests that Mac stay in the ward during a
review of his mental status. It is apparent to all at this point that there is
nothing mentally wrong with Mac, though she decides he needs to stay. Perhaps
this decision was made out of spite for his disruptive behavior. I do feel that
she is dangerous. She has the power to keep a sane man in a mental institution
and rule over his life for as long as she desires-this is very dangerous. Along
with medication, the patients in this ward are undergoing a sort of talking
therapy. It is lead by Nurse Ratched. Only certain patients are involved,
primarily the less severe patients. Several patients assemble themselves in a
semi-circle at the beginning of the session. They may begin where they had left
off during a previous session, or they may start with a new issue. I am not sure
if this type of therapy is used widely. I understand the benefits of group
therapy, but perhaps in this situation a more individual-based therapy should be
utilized due in part to the observed reactions of other members of the group to
certain topics of discussion. I would assume that this film took place in the
middle to late seventies. This talking therapy in reality has no apparent affect
on the more severe or chronic mentally ill patients because they are not even
involved in these sessions. Nurse Ratched demonstrates a very calm attitude
toward the patients, however, I don't agree with her idea of democracy and
fairness. I don't necessarily believe that her technique of therapy is
beneficial to all or any of the patients. I might change my mind if she changes
her method of therapy, however. In my opinion, mental illness involves a
chemical imbalance in brain chemistry which creates delusions in an individual.
I would also classify disorder-related illness under the category of mental
illness. Insanity is not necessarily an illness in my book. The word insane has
often been used to describe people with ideas contrary to the norm, such as
Copernicus and Galileo. Normality and abnormality seem to be defined by majority
and minority, not necessarily by brain chemistry or ideas. With this in mind, I
feel that there are some characters that fit into these descriptions very well,
in a strange sense. According to my definitions, Nurse Ratched is abnormal. She
is not a patient, and the others are in this situation. Also, perhaps Mac is
insane for this reason--he has ideas contrary to the majority, such as, external
interests from the institution like fishing and baseball. ECT was used in this
film as a punishment for intolerable behavior, not necessarily as a means to
correct a clinical problem. The problem that ECT was attempting to correct in
this situation was unruliness. This method was used to silence views disliked by
the staff, in particular, Mac's views. I understand that now ECT is used at much
lower frequencies for shorter amounts of time because of the ethical
considerations involved but not considered during the period covered by this
film. As I discussed in my analysis of Mac, he was sent to the institution for
his unfavorable open beliefs and ideas which fueled the notion that he must have
a mental illness. I am sure that many criminals do fake a mental illness to
escape jail and enter an institution, however, I do not feel that this was any
motivation for Mac. In many ways there are similarities between the two
institutions of mental hospital and jail. For instance, unfavorable ideas and
opinions are suppressed. However, the means of suppression is vastly different.
In a jail, physical consequences may be present for such behavior, and it is not
necessarily labeled as illness. In an institution, the behavior would be dealt
with in a manner that would suggest that it is a mental dysfunction that is
being displayed, so it may be treated with medication or ECT . In my opinion,
Nurse Ratched flew over the cuckoo's nest. She is the perhaps the "mother
bird" watching out for the patients in the hospital, flying around while
protecting their mental state of mind, in her own way.
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