Stigma in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Essay

747 WordsJun 1, 20143 Pages
Although the 19th century expansion of asylums in Europe and The United States was a movement initially based on moral principles, it led to significant negative implications for individuals, who were institutionalized as asylums became overcrowded, lacking hygiene, neglectful of patients and an overall place for poor living conditions (Wright, 1997). The rise in in-patient population in the early 19th century and patients’ inabilities to reintegrate into the community as a result of institutionalization have often been explained in terms of the mental health system and developments in psychology at the time. Sociologists on the other hand, have argued that these institutions have caused people to remain institutionalized. A compelling…show more content…
Randle picks up a woman who in her first greeting asks the patients if they are all “crazy” and they respond by nodding their heads. This shows that these individuals have come to adopt being “crazy” as part of their identity, because of being institutionalized and given that label. Further suggestion of this idea is in the scene where Nurse Ratched reveals to Randle that many of the in-patients are at the psychiatric hospital on a voluntary basis, and only few of them are committed, showing their internalization of their identity as mentally ill patients. Another point that can be drawn from the film is the way, which Nurse Ratched conducts the group therapy sessions. The sessions did not appear as beneficial or therapeutic to the individuals participating in them. It is evident that Nurse Ratched, an individual in a position of power, manipulates the patients into confinement in the hospital through her group therapy sessions. She consistently revisits past traumas and difficulties for the patients, which reinforces the symptoms they believe they suffer from which causes them to feel unstable and unable to leave the hospital. Thus, through these examples in the film, it is suggested that individuals admitted to psychiatric hospitals have come to adopt their mental illness as a defining feature of their identity. Empirical studies that have shown support for the utility of labeling theory, include a study done
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