"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" Film Review

This is “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” essay prompts in which the work is analysed with an accent on therapeutic intervention. Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest constructs a harmful perspective towards people living with a mental illness which cultivates a negative view on these people. It presents a system where everyone with mental illness is a danger to society, drugs are the only way to cure them and some can’t be cured. Chief Bromden the narrator analogises the situation in a simplistic fashion, 'The chronics are machines with flaws inside that can't be repaired'. This stylistic device indicates that the chronics are broken, not mechanically but emotionally broken. Broken by a system that has abused them and forced them into institutions, that they can never escape from. A system that lobotomise anyone that they deem to be a risk or who does not conform.

Dale Harding being homosexual doesn’t conform to the periods strict societal norms, explains what people like him can face, “Frontal-lobe castration. I guess if she can't cut below the belt, she'll do it above the eyes”. The people in these institutions have been stigmatised to a level where they can lose their entire ability to live, to function and to be a human being. Society is so afraid of anyone they will destroy their ability to be different.

The novel is painting a picture where people with mental illnesses are a lost cause and it is better for them to be a vegetable than be a person. While the documentary is the polar opposite with respect to its perspective surrounding mental illness, it aims to try to dispel the misconceptions surrounding mental illness and try more closely align with the act. It tries to convoy people that shows that they are human, they matter, we should care about them. Sandra has bipolar, only looking at her she would fit right in in the mental ward in the novel. Except unlike novel, the documentary shows a person’s family, they show that her family have not abandoned her, people do care about her. The documentary shows that people can change with the proper treatment, take Patrick he was admitted after hitching onto a bull bar and thinking that was this was his “Terminator” moment. Though with the proper treatment with drugs he was able to improve enough that he could go home. Even though he is in a stable mental nobody calls him up to see whether he would like to do something with him. They are afraid of people with mental illness because of texts like the novel because created misconceptions, that cause people to be outcast from society and can lead to spiral into a worse mental state. In the novel the patients though most of them were voluntary couldn’t leave they were being deprived of proper human interaction, a vital piece of treatment and such they can never improve trapping them in limbo.

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest they have no control over what they do and the medication they take, everything about their lives is taken out their hands. Despite the fact many of the patients on the ward are not necessarily insane however do not fit in with preestablished societal norms and have chosen a life away from these norms. The men who are voluntary in the ward have become sheep, being herded by society into institutions. Where they are slowing broken down, to a point where they lose all sense of identity. They have no say, just mindless automatons simply going through the motions of being alive rather than actually being alive. If they don’t conform mindless state they end up like Randle and have ECT, then eventually a lobotomy. They don’t treat to cure; they treat to supress them into a mindless state.

On the other hand, it heavily involves the patients in the process of them on treatment. Sandra may have serious behavioural issues, but she is still involved in the process of deciding what treatment she will under and her medication. “No, I don’t want to take this medication”. Sandra refuses take certain medication, the doctors respond by not forcing the medication upon her. The documentary shows that doctors care about patients they try to follow their wishes, they try follow the mental health principles. They don’t force anything on the patients, unlike the novel the patients are not voluntary. Except once they are more stable, they can have leave time, which is something that the patients never get even though they are voluntary they are permanently trapped. In the documentary always the best interest at heart for the patient. They no not keep the patients in a medicated fog, they help the patients see clearly. “See that bridge I am going to walk over it”. That quotes exemplifies the principles of proper health care, the Patrick says the wants to get out, he wants to get better.

In the novel they are meant to be in America the land of the free, but they are anything but, trapped in a system. A system that has infringed upon their basic rights, a system that keeps its patients in a permeant fog and a system that leads to people committing suicide. Society has been led down a path where people with mental illness have been pushed to the fringe. A study in 2003 conducted on university students who had seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest movie found considerable negative changes in attitude from the students towards people with mental illness. The documentary tries to alleviate and remove the misconceptions surrounding mental illness.   

05 January 2023
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