Many theoretical approaches may be used when assessing the behavior of the characters in "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest". The characters are thought to be mentally ill, however when examining them through the use of the theoretical approaches one realizes that there may be no problems with the characters at all.
Nurse Rachet, a head nurse that conducts group therapy and dispenses medications, could be responsible for the character's behavior. Nurse Ratchet consistently talks to the characters about their supposed problems during the group therapy sessions. She forces Martini and Billy Bibbett to discuss their problems during nearly every group therapy session they have. She is therefore reinforcing the problems that they are believed to have, ultimately making them feel mentally unstable and unable to leave the facility. It is interesting to note that only two people in mental hospital have to be there, the others are free to leave when they feel they are healed. Nurse Rachet is using what has been defined as the labeling theory. Nurse Rachet is in a position of power, which makes the labels she gives the characters hold true not only to outsiders, but also to the characters themselves. "Once a person is designated abnormal, all of his other behaviors and characteristics are colored by that label" (Rosenhan p.4).
The exact opposite is shown when Nurse Rachet is not around. McMurphy treated the other characters as normal; therefore he received a normal reaction from them. The fishing trip may be used when illustrating this aspect of the labeling theory. McMurphy portrays all of the patients as doctors when they arrive to the boat, which reinforces that fact that they too can be whatever they wish to be. McMurphy also treats Theoretical Approaches 3
the characters as responsible individuals, giving them all tasks to do on the boat. For example, some of the characters were in charge of getting the boat out of the dock,...