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Mental Therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Essay

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2020

Various psychological problems take place in our modern life. The film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was chosen to discover the possible misconceptions about the treatment, which might occur in the society. The writer is one of the authors, which focuses on the portrayal of the medical history (Stripling 61). The primary character McMurphy, who is criminal, is trying to avoid the punishment by pretending that he is mentally unstable (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). McMurphy notices that the order is run by the nurse, Mildred, and becomes a leader to change the current situation and improve the status of the patients (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). It is apparent that the patients do not seek to improve their mental state and return to the real world. Nonetheless, other patients experience ‘real’ mental illnesses, such as delusion, paranoia, and epilepsy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

The conflict between Mcmurphy and the nurse escalates rapidly, and the main character tries to change the rules of the ward by watching the match on the TV (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). McMurphy wants to show the world to the patients, and illegally drives the bus to the seaside and takes everyone fishing (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). The patients are starting to feel more alive and as individual human beings.

The conflict between McMurphy and the doctors is slowly escalating, and for the misbehavior McMurphy and his silent friend, Chief, are sent to the electroconvulsive therapy, where McMurphy discovers that Chief is not deaf or mute (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). After the therapy, he experiences a brain damage, but he ignores its possible consequences.

The tensions continue to rise, and it is questionable whether McMurphy will be released. Consequently, he plans to escape (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). However, before doing that he decides to organize the party and break into the drug pantry and put the music on (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). It is apparent that Billy (one of the patients) likes Candy (Murphy’s friend), and before leaving McMurphy suggests them to enjoy time together privately (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

In the morning, the nurse arrives and claims that she is going to complain to Billy’s mother about his behavior (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Billy experiences the panic attack and commits suicide. McMurphy almost kills the nurse for her words.

After that, everyone believes that McMurphy escaped. However, he is accompanied to the ward lobotomized (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Chief is happy to see him, but he is horrified by the fact that his friend went through a dismaying procedure (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). He murders him and escapes. All the others are happy that he is able to do it.

As for my personal reflection, the picture portrayed in the film is horrifying, as the inconsistent treatment took place. It is clear that the movie had a vehement impact on the development of the modern psychiatry (Swaine par. 1). As for the development across the lifespan, it is an essentiality, and it continues for the whole life (Touthy and Jett 73). It could be said that the patients were living and accurately following the orders of the hospital, and they knew what potential punishment might be for disobedience. However, McMurphy tried to encourage the development of people, as it remained stagnant. One of his attempts was successful, as he was able to change the attitude of Chief regarding the freedom. Consequently, McMurphy’s silent friend was able to murder his friend, as he considered his condition not appropriate for the living.

As for the behavioral neuroscience, electroconvulsive therapy is used to ease the state of the mental patients, when the medication is not effective (Freberg 568). It could be said that the procedure seems severe in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as McMurphy experienced vehement brain damage and partial memory loss. However, the effects of the treatment are exaggerated, as it is considered as a harmless (Freberg 568). It leads to the misconceptions among the mental patients and a necessity to introduce another way of treatment in psychiatry, as non-existent effects were displayed in the film. Additionally, the procedure is used to benefit the condition of the patients, and not as punishment for misbehavior. It could be said that the primary goal of the film was to emphasize misconceptions of the psychiatry and lack of the competence among the medical personnel.

Speaking of health, stress, and adjustment, they are strongly related aspects and have a vehement influence on the well-being of an individual (Harrington 174). In the film, the patients adapted to the situation and followed the rules. However, in case of McMurphy, it was not a solution, as, under the continuous stressful therapy, he continued following his final goal. It could be said that the inability to adapt, lead to the adverse consequences for McMurthy. Even though he was trying to act as mentally unstable, it was still clear to the doctors whether he is pretending or not.

Works Cited

Freberg, Laura. Discovering Behavioral Neuroscience: An Introduction to Biological Psychology, Boston, Cengage Learning, 2015. Print.

Harrington, Rick. Stress, Health and Well-Being: Thriving in the 21st Century, Belmont, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Ex. Prod. Ken Kesey. Burbank: Warner Home Video. 1997. DVD.

Stripling, Mahala. “Teaching Literature and Medicine.

Cuckoo’s Nest.” Teaching American Literature: A Journal of Theory and Practice 3.1 (2009): 61-67. Print.

Swaine, Jon. “How ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ Changed Psychiatry.” The Telegraph, 2011.

Touthy, Theris, and Kathleen Jett. Ebersole and Hess’ Gerontological Nursing & Healthy Aging, St. Louis, Elsevier, 2012. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, June 14). Mental Therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/mental-therapy-in-one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest/

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"Mental Therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." IvyPanda, 14 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/mental-therapy-in-one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest/.

1. IvyPanda. "Mental Therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." June 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mental-therapy-in-one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest/.


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IvyPanda. "Mental Therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." June 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mental-therapy-in-one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Mental Therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." June 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mental-therapy-in-one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Mental Therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest'. 14 June.

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