One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Study Guide

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Study Guide

Original title:
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
February 1st 1963 by Signet (first published 1962)
Salem, Oregon, 1963 (United States)
ISBN 0451163966 (ISBN13: 9780451163967)

During his life Ken Kesey has been very interested in alternative perception, altered states of human mind and mental disorders. He based a lot of his works on it. Throughout his life he’s made himself a rebellious reputation of avid drug experimenter and wrote a couple of texts on that. 

One of them, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, was written right after the deinstitutionalization processes had began in the way American medical society handled patients with psychological problems. 

Chief Bromden is a vivid example of the ineffectiveness of conventional psychological treatment of that time, such as lobotomy and psychoactive drugs. His paranoia leads him to believe that the hospital staff isn’t treating him right. When a new bold patient whose name is Randle Patrick McMurphy appears, all the other patients fall under his lead. 

A confrontation between a head nurse Ratched and the patients intensifies when the first casualty happens. The patients feel that they have finally regained their individuality and want to stand the battle till the end. After causing fight and being put through the electroshock therapy, Chief and McMurphy are recognized heroes among the population of the hospital. 

But when all of the sudden McMurphy stops behaving like himself, the patients decide to save the leader by plotting his potential escape. The plan had to be postponed to finish McMurphy’s business at the hospital and it eventually failed. 

By the way, the watchmen that aren’t treating the patients properly arrange the drugs, prostitutes and alcohol for the patients. Wait a minute, the story doesn’t match, does it? And there’s a hint that McMurphy might fake his mental disorders in order to escape the labor of the real life. Confused yet? Then you definitely got a taste of the book impression. 

How far can individuality go until it’s called a disorder? What level of compliance is already oppression? But then again, let’s not forget that the text is a manifest of altered reality. Whose side of the glasses will you accept?

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