Anti-Social Behaviour in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest
Anti-Social behaviour runs rampant in the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, however for one character it consumes his entire life. This paper will research, analyze and discuss the anti-social behaviour of Randall P. McMurphy as he battles his personality and life, along with authority making one able to perceive McMurphy as an anti-hero.
Ken Kesey’s experiences in a mental institution urged him to tell the story of such a ward. We are told this story through the eyes of a Native who everyone believes to be deaf and dumb named Chief in his movie “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. Chief is a patient in an Oregon psychiatric hospital on the ward of Mrs Ratched. she is the symbol of authority throughout the text. This ward forms the backdrop for the rest of the story. The men on the ward are resigned to their regime dictated by this tyrant who is referred to as ‘the Big Nurse’, until McMurphy arrives to disrupt it. He makes the men realize that it is possible to think for themselves, which results in a complete destruction of the system as it was. Randell P. McMurphy, a wrongly committed mental patient with a lust for life. The qualities that garner McMurphy respect and admiration from his fellow patients are also responsible for his tragic downfall. These qualities include his temper, which leads to his being deemed “disturbed,” his stubbornness, which results in his receiving numerous painful disciplinary treatments, and finally his free spirit, which leads to his death.
The novel One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey was published in 1962 and was a best seller of its time. The novel was important for its time because of its anti-establishment message. The United States government at the time was involved in a struggle and the American people were concerned over the threat of nuclear war. The theme of the novel is the individual versus society. I will prove ...
Despite McMurphy being a noble man, in the end, these characteristics hurt him more than they help him. He forms the basis to my study of rebellion. McMurphy’s slight acts of conformity, show that he is still human and still in touch with his senses. If these did not exist we could full rightly say that he is clinically insane and hence would only be able to state that his condition gives him rebellious tendencies and not class him as the archetypal rebel. The questions I will attempt to answer are; what is the mental disorder the character exhibits?; which criteria (symptoms) of the disorder does the character exhibit? What major scenes helped you reach this decision?; How much of an impact does this disorder have on the character’s day-to-day life? What scenes evidence this? The Narrator, Chief Bromden comments that it was not he who originally decided to adopt the act of being deaf and dumb but others who treated him as if he were deaf and dumb, which illustrates that the way a person is depends upon the society around him. Indeed, Chief Bromden’s father told him: “If you don’t watch it people will force you one way or the other into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite just out of spite.” This is very much emphasized in the movie: Kesey strongly suggests that the residents of the ward in his movie are there because they could not cope with the pressures put on them by society to conform, and that their madness is caused by others, rather than originating within the men themselves. Kesey also deals with the ineffective way in which these men are ‘treated’ for their various aliments. He constantly alludes to the way that the institution, in particular ‘Big Nurse’ attempts to dehumanize these men, illustrating the fact that it is deemed better that these men have no signs of individuality so that they will fit into society more easily. The author does not portray them then in a derogatory light or laugh at them, but rather seems to look on them as victims of society’s oppression, and sees society as the root of their problems. These men appear to be on the ward just so that they are kept out of the way, rather than being treated. This is a reflection of how society will sometimes attempt to oppress and attempt to ignore a radical thinker or rebel rather than confronting their problems. This is strongly the case of McMurphy. McMurphy begins challenging the system in small ways, such as asking that ‘ward policy’ be changed so that they can watch the world series, and is shocked to find the men so unwilling to vote. Another more symbolic example is his attempt to lift the control panel, a feat which he will clearly be unable to achieve; but he makes the point that he tried, which is more than any of the other men would think to do. This shows one of the important personality traits of McMurphy and that’s stubbourness. Another of his character traits is his wild temper. At Various times it aids him in his battle with the “Big Nurse” for control of the mental ward. However, his temper eventually works against him. Upon McMurphy’s arrival in the ward he establishes himself as a con man and a gambler. One of his first bets with the other patients is to see if, within a week, he can put “a bee in [Nurse Ratched’s] butt, a burr in her bloomers. Get her goat. Bug her till she comes apart at those neat little seams”. McMurphy makes this bet after he learns about the Disturbed Ward where “assaultive” and “potential assaultives” are sent, and also about the “shock shop” where Electro-Shock Therapy is administered to unruly patients. Since McMurphy is “not in the habit of losing”, he wants to be certain that he can get away with harassing the Big Nurse without receiving any of these punishments. He is told by a fellow patient, “as long as you don’t lose your temper and give her actual reason to request the restriction of the Disturbed Ward, or the therapeutic benefits of electro-shock you are safe. But that entails first and foremost keeping one’s temper. And you? With your red hair and black record? Why delude yourself”.This shows that McMurphy is already perceived as a man with a temper after only one day on the ward.
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McMurphy displays this temper throughout the movie, but one incident finally gets him into trouble. During an argument with one of the black aides to the Big Nurse, a punch is thrown and a fight breaks out. This is what the Big Nurse has been waiting for; an excuse to send McMurphy to the Disturbed Ward. Upon his arrival here, he is administered with Electro-shock therapy as punishment. The Big Nurse is able to get the upper hand in her battle against McMurphy when he allows his temper to take over. When McMurphy is committed to the Disturbed Ward, he has the opportunity to return to his old ward as long as he admits to being wrong. This would give the Big Nurse the final victory, but McMurphy is too stubborn to allow that to happen. As a result, he receives numerous Electro-Shock Therapy treatments. Each time he comes to, the Big Nurse offers him the chance to apologize and to admit that he was at fault, but he tells her “she could kiss his rosy red ass before he’d give up the goddam ship” If McMurphy admitted he was wrong, he could avoid the Electro-Shock Therapies. However, he is too stubborn to allow the Big Nurse to win the war so easily. This is quite admirable but at the same time he is killing himself for no real cause just to be proved right.
Throughout the movie, another rebellious characteristic is examined, through McMurphy’s free spirit. He wishes to live his life on his own terms, not that of the social norm, and he spreads this mentality to the others. He “serves as an energy source and inspiration to…his fellows. They become less lethargic…but mainly, they become able and willing to struggle for life” (Hicks, Criticism).
This is one reason why the others look up to him so much. He helps them regain some control over their lives during his stay on the ward. McMurphy does this by teaching them how to laugh again, saying that “you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy”. McMurphy also radiates his rebellious nature to the others by standing up against all the ward policies that he disagrees with. He does not wish for his life to be dictated to him by rules and restrictions, which is why he challenges the Big Nurses authority. At the end of the movie, McMurphy attacks the Big Nurse, and consequently receives a lobotomy. Although his mind is taken away, his body still struggles to stay alive. Knowing that McMurphy would not want to live his life in that state, Chief decides to kill him. This task is more difficult than he anticipates, because “the big, hard body had a tough grip on life. It fought a long time against having it taken away. This shows that McMurphy’s free spirit and stubbornness is so strong and deeply anchored, that even though his mind is gone, his body continues the fight to stay alive. We have seen his stubbornness most markedly before, in his attempt at moving the control panel. This control panel is a representation of the ‘Combine’, which Chief believes mechanically controls the patients of the ward via the devices which he momentarily sees inside the tranquillizer pills which they are given. Whilst it is true that his hallucinations are mere hallucinations, they are in fact representative of what is happening on the ward; even though the men are not being controlled by electronic devices, they may as well be because they have been deprived of the ability to think for themselves to such an extent. Kesey noticed that the system worked by disallowing freedom of any kind; freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and even freedom of thought. Fred Madden wrote: ‘For Kesey, any sort of conformity means a loss of individual sanity.’ this view forms the basis of my essay. This idea is very much illustrated in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” but particularly through McMurphy. However in McMurphys’ case he is eventually caught by authority and his rebelliousness it destroyed. In so much as due to his lack of conformity he eventually loses sanity. As we have seen McMurphy is a very obvious rebel, continually kicking against authority. However we can also look at it in a slightly different light: That he is no true rebel but simple mentally insane. After all, we do not know if he really deserves to be placed on this ward or not. It does appear at first that he has been wrongly admitted however we have very little background knowledge of McMurphy and he could in fact have a severe mental disorder which makes him act in the way he does. This would not make him a rebel whatsoever since he is not conscious of his actions. This is rather debatable. I feel that McMurphy becomes more and more neurotic, the more time he spends in the clinic. Shows that it is this that is making him insane as he ends up towards the end of the movie and he did not start off in this state, needing treatment.
ter>Sam Vaknin's Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Foreign Affairs Web Sites Patients suffering from eating disorders binge on food and sometimes are both Anorectic and Bulimic. This is an impulsive behaviour as defined by the DSM (particularly in the case of BPD and to a lesser extent of Cluster B disorders in general). Some patients adopt these disorders as their way of self mutilating. ...
Kleptomania Our text describes a number of disorders with an irresistible impulse-usually one that will ultimately be harmful to the person affected. However, DSM-IV-TR includes fives additional impulse-control disorders (Called impulse -control disorders not elsewhere classified) that are not included under other categories... intermittent explosive disorder, pyromania, pathological gambling, , ...
For this essay style assignment I mostly used online academic research, along with the film, to help me research and analyze McMurphy as a character and as a patient. I started the base of my project with Wikipedia. I spent some time searching for keywords related to One Flew Over, browsing the links found on each page, and followed their suggested resources. The goal with Wikipedia was to get a good overview about the subject and the plot of the movie in general. I believe Wikipedia is a good starting block, but not the be all, end all of finding research. Also, while doing my research I kept a kind of “working thesis” in mind, a question I may want to answer later on. As I came across new material it had to look like it will help me answer your question. Anything that looks relevant but doesn’t help answer the question I put back. It’s tempting to gather a lot of background material, and some is necessary, but too much will waste ones time without contributing to your research. Anti-social behaviour is a big theme in the movie One Flew Over, therefore I found two journalistic articles dealing with One Flew Over that I incorporated into my research. These articles were good in different ways. One article detailed what exactly anti-social behaviour was and ended it there. The other article went into more detail about the causes and concerns of dealing with an individual whom maybe suffering from anti-social disorder and I was able to apply that well to Randall McMurphy. In conclusion, my research methods demonstrated in this paper are ones that I learned from taking high school English, and those methods will be incorporated in future papers as well. My research methods were all about mining different sources, to come up with a different source and then weeding out the good from the bad.
Introduction Although kleptomania, the irresistible impulse to steal objects not needed for personal use or for their monetary value, is currently classified in psychiatric nomenclature as an impulse control disorder, research suggests it is, rather, a variant of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The principle effects of the theft are repetitive, unwanted intrusions of thoughts, and an inability to ...
1 What is the mental disorder the character exhibits? Provide a researched description of the disorder.
2 Which criteria (symptoms) of the disorder does the character exhibit? What major scenes helped you reach this decision?
5 How much of an impact does this disorder have on the character’s day-to-day life? What scenes evidence this?
7 If you were the patient’s diagnostic team, how would you attempt to treat his/her disorder? Support this with relevant research
But upon delving into the true emotions, a person with antisocial personality disorder suffers from constant internal turmoil. One of the dominating social signs of antisocial personality disorder is irritability, often followed by violent behaviour (InteliHealth).
Several times throughout One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, McMurphy showed such characteristics. For example, twice McMurphy broke the glass in the nurses’ station window when he didn’t agree with Nurse Ratched’s decisions. Antisocial personality disorder patients often worry about being considered weak or victimized. With an additional fear that others will “get the better of them,” antisocial personality disorder patients will often push others around to get their way. A result from these fears is the heckling of authority (InteliHealth).
McMurphy showed this the most when he tried to get a re-vote on watching the World Series on TV. Nurse Ratched didn’t like the idea so McMurphy pestered her. Several concepts are hard for antisocial personality disorder sufferers to grasp. Societal expectations, which may lead to criminal behaviour (Kahn 50), can cause repeated punishment, which is technically ineffectual (Blair 9).
The reader discovers with the review of McMurphy’s history. McMurphy was repeatedly arrested for infringing the rights of others, which is another concept (WebMD).
McMurphy showed this when he didn’t get written consent for the boating trip and yet he still carried out the excursion. Also when discussing McMurphy’s past during the community meeting, Big Nurse revealed McMurphy’s charge for rape and McMurphy completely denied that it was, in fact, rape. The major concept that McMurphy simply didn’t seem to comprehend was remorse. Lying, deception, and lack of guilt are major traits of antisocial personality disorder (Kime 106) and seem to play a large role in McMurphy’s life, shown by the repeated criminal offences in the past. Responsibility is another troublesome factor to comprehend with antisocial personality disorder (DSM-IV).
McMurphy displayed this when he did a poor job cleaning the toilets and stuck dirty notes inside the toilet instead. So far in the movie, McMurphy received much “treatment.” He was arrested several times and then committed to the Work Farm. Then he was sent to the hospital. There he received electroshock therapy for disobedience and ultimately was lobotomized after attempting to kill Nurse Ratched. The treatment McMurphy received was flawed. First off, punishment, such as arrest and EST, have been proven ineffectual to treat misconduct; the patient simply repeats the behaviour for which he was punished (Blair 9).
Secondly, strict hospitalization was required for such an extreme situation as McMurphy’s case, but in order to effectively treat extreme apd, a system of levels of privileges is required. If and when McMurphy were admitted to a modern hospital, such as the program at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland, McMurphy would be treated with the strictest of policies: very, if any, privileges and little, if any, freedoms. He would have to work up a hierarchy of privileges. At each level he would attain more freedoms and privileges until he worked up to the level of normal society, lessening the need for antisocial personality behavior and stabilizing emotions (Long).
Group therapy can also be helpful to stabilize emotions and behavior. Individual therapy may also be helpful but only if trust can be established between the therapist and the patient (WebMD).
McMurphy’s lobotomy may have caused more problems than it was worth. Recent studies have shown that violent people, mostly men, diagnosed with apd lack some of the gray brain matter in the forehead opposed to alcoholics, men with other disorders, and men with no disorders who appeared to have no missing gray matter. This may be causing apd or it may be caused by antisocial personality disorder (Bower 141).
Most likely, if the missing gray matter causes antisocial personality disorder, removing the remaining frontal lobe matter with a lobotomy probably would actually worsen the patient’s conditions. In both probable solutions to the missing brain matter, removing it would do absolutely no good. As seen in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, McMurphy wound up being a swollen vegetable.
Another aspect of McMurphys’ character that might be looked upon as not being that of a rebel is that he is not completely anti-conformist: when he realizes that nurse Ratched can decide whether he should be relocated or kept institutionalized he falters in his striving for non-conformity and personal identity. This causes Cheswick, who was beginning to learn to become less dehumanized, to lose hope and commit suicide. McMurphys’ increasing despair can clearly be seen when, given the chance to escape, he ‘accidentally’ oversleeps after the party. Having been in the institution for a length of time, he too has become dehumanized. The theme which all modern works, where characters display some kind of nervous ailment, share is that the character’s afflictions are not perceived as being entirely their own fault but to a certain extent caused by events in their lives or the society around them. Hence we can see this movie as a warning: when society thinks it is helping it can often be causing people to become rebellious and hateful of the system. However hard it is to perceive the inner sentiments of a character through anothers eyes, I do feel that McMurphy is mentally sane and is driven by his hatred for authority. His aim throughout the movie is to help rescue at least one of the men from their soporific conformity. By the end of the movie he has managed to release many of the patients back to their normal senses. Hence his actions have not been in vane even after loosing his life. This, along with all the other aspects of his character make a strong case for him to be held as the archetypal rebel. McMurphy’s self-sacrifice on behalf of his ward-mates echoes Christ’s sacrifice of himself on the cross to redeem humankind. McMurphy’s actions frequently parallel Christ’s actions in the Gospels. McMurphy undergoes a kind of baptism upon entering the ward, and he slowly gathers disciples around him as he increases his rebellion against Ratched. When he takes the group of patients fishing, he is like Christ leading his twelve disciples to the sea to test their faith. Finally, McMurphy’s ultimate sacrifice, his attack on Ratched, combined with the symbolism of the cross-shaped electroshock table and McMurphy’s request for “a crown of thorns,” cements the image of the Christ-like martyrdom that McMurphy has achieved by sacrificing his freedom and sanity. The ‘glitches’ in his character, his slight acts of conformity, show that he is still human and still in touch with his senses. If these did not exist we could full rightly say that he is clinically insane and hence would only be able to state that his condition gives him rebellious tendencies and not class him as the archetypal rebel.
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[reprinted at bigchalk.com (2000)] DSM-IV. (4th ed.) (1994).
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