Transcribed in 1962 by Ken Kesey , One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a novel set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital where the narrative serves a study to the institutional processes. Study of the human mind and other humanistic doctrines are studied. The novel was published in 1962. Later in 1963, it was adopted by Dale Wasserman into a Broadway play. In 1975, Bo Goldman took up the novel into a Milos Forman directed film which consequentially clinched five academy awards
The play has a very interesting plot. In the beginning of the novel, Chief Bromden, a son of a Native American father and a white mother suffers humiliation in the hands of an Afro-American hospital attendant (Porter 47). Here a woman of great power and control is introduced as a nurse. Later, Patrick McMurphy is introduced. He is a fellow patient in the ward who faked as an insane man to serve out his jail term for statutory rape in the same hospital.
McMurphy with no delay is displayed as an accepted figure of leadership to the fellow patients as he sets an antagonism against nurse Ratched. He even requests acquiescence to watch a world series on the television set in the ward together with the other patients. Permission is not granted but he turns on the television. Ratched the nurse cuts of the power but McMurphy and the others make a fool of her by watching a blank screen. (Porter 34).
The drama continues in part two and three as a lifeguard asks McMurphy to obey Ratched instead of risking her extending his sentence in the hospital. After second thoughts, he drops his rebellious behavior. He later returns to his earlier otherwise rebellious behavior and even smashes a window to get some cigarettes (Porter 50). Later in the novel, McMurphy takes some patients on a fishing trip. Despite Ratched trying to scare them, they go, come back and celebrate their brand-new eccentricity. A lot of drama ensues until McMurphy is turned into a lobotomized body but is later removed from the Disturbed Ward and when Chief finds out that it is actually him, he suffocates McMurphy and elopes.
In the novel, there were methods that were used to treat severely mentally ill patients. The first one is Electroconvulsive Therapy. This was a medical procedure that consisted of short bursts of electricity administered to the patient’s brain. The treatment is undertaken after consent between the doctor and the patient. But in Cuckoo's Nest, McMurphy and other patients are involuntary forced by the Ratched to undertake it. This not only overlooked their issue of consensus but also went out as a form of punishment.
The novel paints Electroconvulsive Therapy as a form of sadistic mode of torture. Fear is clearly evident and a sense of horror instigated. In a key part of the novel, McMurphy is shown painted undergoing the treatment. (Porter 15). This in itself persuaded and set the political arena and the public against Electroconvulsive Therapy. The whole method raises eyebrows as who undertook legal obligation for the decisions undertaken and even puts an insight to the depth of wantonness of the nurse and the system in general.
Brain surgery was also employed. This was mainly done to the acutes. Acutes were patients who the attendants believed they can be still cured despite their advanced stages. These were such as Billy Bobbit who is a nervous shy boy. He cuts himself numerous times. He is in a sorry state of emotional breakdown and even cuts his throat. George Sorensen and Dale Harding were in the same list.
Patients’ behavior was modified and improved in the mental hospital. One method used to do this was by isolation. The patients are in no contact with the outside world; this is clearly evident as go on an outside fishing trip. The patients get all provisions in the facility including cigarettes and liquor. Punishments were also administered. This was done when a patient was found not adhering to the regulations. For instance they were left to watch a blank screen after down playing an instruction not to turn on the television. After nurse Ratched finds Billy with a prostitute, he reprimands him and even threatens to tell Billy’s mother what she had witnessed. Billy is humbled and resents his deeds (Porter 17).
In contrast to the real world, the psychiatric environment was harsh and inhumane. Patients were treated like they had no control. They were denied basics such as watching television and even going out. Association and relationships were denied. Terrorizations and threats were a common occurrence (Porter 81). The nurse for instance terrorized Billy on two occasions which even deteriorated his mental illness. She even placed terrorizing newspaper cut-outs to disorient the patients from going on a fishing trip. Health decisions undertaken on behalf of the patients were inhumane such as Electroconvulsive Therapy needed patient consent.
In comparison to the real world, the aspect of making the patients well was evident. Medication and surgery was administered so that the patients could get well (Porter 32). Unacceptable behavior like in the real world was discouraged. In the case of Billy and McMurphy in the novel, prostitution, drug abuse and alcoholism are heavily punished.
In my opinion McMurphy was not mad at all. Instead he shows no signs of mental illness. He acts to be insane to avoid hard labor in jail. He wants to serve his term in a more tranquil hospital surrounding. He leads other patients into a successful fishing trip and back. He is the same individual who actions the rest against the policy of not watching television. His speech does not depict any insanity as well. His elaborate plan to escape the hospital with other patients shows a sober mind with a clean motive (Porter 67).
Lobotomies should have never been used and should never be used. Consisting of cutting of connections to and fro the brain, the procedure holds more damage than good. It has serious side effects and can even lead to death (Porter 97). After undergoing the same, McMurphy was reduced to a vegetative state. The scars left on his fore head were a constant reminder of the damage inflicted. Other methods should be developed to cure mental illnesses. Scientific research should be undertaken to come up with new innovations in the sector that will have less side effects on the patients.