Patient Control in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

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The novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey is about the power structure of a mental ward from the perspective of a patient, Bromden. The story takes place during the 1950's in Oregon. Many of the patients on the ward are not necessarily insane however do not fit in with pre established societal norms and have chosen a life away from these norms. The men who are voluntary have given in to the staff and follow them like sheep, however, the men who are committed need controlling according to society so they were sent to the ward. The head nurse, Nurse Rached, of the ward keeps control using her staff that has been picked out over years of meticulous selection. The staff under Rached's orders keep control of the patients …show more content…
The patients in the mental ward are the only ones who ever work on cleaning the hospital. The labor in addition to controlling the patients keeps the staff complacent. This complacency forces the staff to follow Rached's orders. Intimidation and fear are used quite often by the staff to keep patients in line. The use of this is shown in in the use of shock therapy and lobotomies as threats to keep patients well behaved. Patients that were victims of failed lobotomy attempts are kept on the ward, “Ruckly... was being a holy nuisance all over the place...so they took him away to be fixed,”(20). This is why Ruckly can barley talk and he is kept to serve as an example for the patients. The staff intentionally provokes Ruckly into his fits to show what might happen to other patients if they act against the staff. The threatening of the patients by the staff and Nurse Rached force the patients in to a more submissive role. The other main fear tactic used by the staff is electroshock therapy. This was originally thought to rearrange the electronic signals of the brain , however in the story it is used as a punishment by Rached, “Hoo-wee! Electricity through the head. That's like electrocuting a guy for murder,”(164). Rached has sole control over wither electroshock is used on a patient. This power lets her use it a punishment instead of as a treatment. Her near abuse of this power has instilled a healthy fear among the patients because as McMurphy put it
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