One Flew over the Cuckoo Nest Critical Analysis

Topics: Psychiatry, Psychiatric hospital, Mental disorder Pages: 5 (1633 words) Published: July 27, 2013
One flew over the cuckoo nest“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” The film “One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” accurately depicts and presents the various psychological issues, such as the use of psychosurgery, institutionalism inside the psychiatric hospital and the medical and societal attitudes towards patients during the 1960s. Set in 1963, the film uses characters – patients and authority figures alike – and setting to accurately depict various aspects of psychological treatments, theories and concepts applied, before more ethical practices were introduced later in the 20th century.  The film itself was extremely powerful in presenting the methods it used by psychiatric asylums to treat its patients, and was credited with tarnishing the image of various mainstream mental health care techniques. The result of the film as a whole; it gave voice, gave life, to a basic distrust of the way in which psychiatry was being used for society's purposes, rather than the purposes of the people who had a mental illness, or those that were deemed to have a mental illness.

Psychosurgery is the surgical intervention to sever fibres connecting one part of the brain with another or to remove, destroy, or stimulate brain tissue with the intent of modifying or altering disturbances of behaviour, thought content, or mood for which no organic pathological cause can be demonstrated. Psychosurgery has had a controversial history, in which medical, moral, and social considerations have intermingled. First described in 1936, and defined as a surgical ablation or destruction of nerve transmission pathways with the aim of modifying behaviour, the conventional “lobotomy” of the 1940s and 1950s flourished. There was a strong desire to relieve overpopulation in asylums and hospitals, and lobotomy came to be seen as a means for calming down and even discharging a proportion of committed patients. Little attention was paid to patient consent or selection; almost immediately after its introduction, lobotomy was noted to have severe collateral effects on the patients. Caregivers described their patients as lifeless, dull, dependant, apathetic, without a drive, passive, preoccupied and distant.

The use of psychosurgery in the past, are ably depicted in the film, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. In the film, McMurphy, a convicted rapist/criminal named McMurphy who fakes insanity so he can finish his sentence in a mental hospital instead of a prison, causes a lot of problems in the hospital by encouraging the other patients to stand up to the head nurse's ( Nurse Ratched’s ) abuses. McMurphy eventually attempts to strangle the nurse because she's partly responsible for the death of another patient (Billy Bibbit). Because of McMurphy’s violent actions, Nurse Ratched has him committed to a special ward for patients deemed "disturbed." He undergoes a lobotomy - an operation in which the connections between the frontal lobes and rest of the brain are severed. The procedure leaves him in a vegetative state. Upon his return to the ward, another patient, Chief, remarks that "There's nothin' in the face. Just like one of those store dummies." In this scene, we see the depiction of the misuse of psychosurgery during the 1960’s – the way in which it was misused on patients who were not even mentally ill, but perhaps aggravated and violent, as a way of subduing their actions as a resort to curing the patients’ “disturbance”.

Fast forward to the 20th century, surgeons no longer destroy large amounts of brain tissue in futile efforts to "cure" schizophrenia and neurosis. Instead, they take pinpoint aim at millimetre-long clusters of cells to stop suicidal depression, disable obsessive-compulsive disorders, cripple anxiety, and control the uncontrollable rage and aggression that keep sick people in locked wards.

Institutionalism refers to the term behaviourism, which itself refers to the school of psychology, based on the belief that behaviours can be...
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