20th Century History of the Treatment of Mental Illness: A Review This article describes the development and advances in psychiatry over the twentieth century, which informs a study of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by providing a context for the film’s portrayal of the mental hospital, patients, staff and procedures. Palmer notes that early on, mental illness was considered an incurable disease of personal failing or spirituality. Now, mental illness is thought to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Asylums were created with the intention of removing “lunatics” from the community for recovery.
The article also discusses various experimental treatments, noting that the lobotomy procedure became very popular for its ability to tranquilize patients although it “more or less deprived them of their social skills and judgment. ” This background informs Cuckoo’s Nest’s depiction of the surgery which correspondingly destroys McMurphy’s individuality and signals his demise. Forman presents the procedure as potent and fear-inspiring; its critical role in the plot is shaped by the historical and cultural factors that colored the public’s perception of lobotomies during that time period.
During the 1960s and 1970s-during which Kesey’s novel was published and the film adaptation was created-the antipsychiatry movement gained momentum. Researchers, writers and protestors contended that mental illness had roots in social, political and legal areas; many believed such illness was “purely a social contract. ” This historical portrait provides insight into the portrayal of disease in McMurphy and the other patients, whose disabilities are influenced by multiple vectors of societal pressures, such as threat of emasculation and defiance of conformity.
This analysis of mental illness clearly reflects the time period in which in was created, approaching it from social causes rather than solely organic causes. In addition to shedding light on the cultural factors that shape the depiction of mental illness in Cuckoo’s Nest, this article utilizes the film as an illustration of those social forces and their affect on public perception of mental illness and psychiatric practices. Palmer notes that the release of Cuckoo’s Nest “gave the public an awareness of the horrors of electroconvulsive therapy” and increased negative perception of it.
The article contends, therefore, that the film is not only a reflection of a social and historical time period but a factor in shaping those cultural forces. This article demonstrates how a film serves multiple purposes in society, public opinion and directing it. From this perspective, Cuckoo’s Nest holds a very influential position in American culture and its weight should be factored into any analysis of the film’s role and reception. Forman’s Cuckoo’s Nest, Its Composition and Symbolism
Jan Bialosticki’s treatment of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a detailed exploration of allegorical composition, which provides valuable insight to the construction and significance of the film. Through close analysis of a few scenes, Bialosticki demonstrates how Forman effectively achieves a balance of symbolism and narrative; where ideas prevail, he argues, the film becomes artificial. Cuckoo’s Nest, though, allows representations of reality and characterizations to triumph, which gives allegory a “human shape. Bialosticki explicates the scene in which the patients temporarily escape the hospital and commandeer a boat into the “full of light, wide, almost boundless” sea to illustrate the impossibility of escaping one’s own psyche. A false sense of freedom as the ship passes through the narrow harbor into the open water is truncated by a transformation into a “ship of fools” that is headed nowhere, inhibited and powerless against the sea that turns it around.
Bialostocki proposes that Forman’s is a chief example ofan artist’s exploration of the basic necessities governing social life, which often pan out in communities separated from anything around them, as the world of mad people is a metaphor for the human world in general. Through this construction, he explores the reciprocal dependence of group members, the need for and complications of participation in group life and the double-edged sword of loyalty and faithfulness.
An important question addressed by the article is whether McMurphy’s death represents his defeat of the defeat of the system with which he clashes. Forman’s sympathy, Bialostocki argues, lies with the individuals; he is “unfriendly” to the system in which the social life of the group is stifled. The filmmaker achieves this through a contrast between the “abnormal” world, full of expression, and the “normal” world, passionless, ruthless and unable to understand the essence and variety of the individual.
This article is therefore of great relevance to a study of portrayal of mental health in cinema; Cuckoo’s Nest is more than a critique on care, but a commentary on human society as a whole. Literature and Film In analyzing the relationship between literature and film, Sarris argues that they are often viewed as “competitive versions of the same basic anecdotal material. ” With inevitable divergences between the literary source and the filmed reflection, Sarris contends that the “onus would be placed on the filmmaker for insensitivity and infidelity to a superior art form. This article provides a comprehensive background to the deep-seeded antagonism between literature and film, tracing the roots back to early cinematic examples when “a critical tension was established from the very beginning between the a priori visual aspect of film and the a posterior literary uses to which this visual aspect addressed itself. ” At best, Sarris says, film “translates surfaces into essences” and at worst, it “gobbles up the dull surface of reality like a vacuum cleaner, and with as much meaningful selection of detail. He contends that film can enhance subject matter, but also runs the risk of absorbing it literally and unimaginatively. “Cinema is unique even when it is not trying to be unique,” and, the argument continues, “its uniqueness resides in its essence rather than in its existence. “Until recently, though, Sarris notes, the flow of novels into films was one way, a path from the older forms to the newest. The idea that a film can improve upon a novel is still relatively heretical. This treatise on the relationship between literature and film was published in between the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest publication and the movie’s release.
Since it describes the theoretical and practical conventions of the time period, it provides a timely ground for study of Cuckoo’s Nest’s adaptation process. The article provides a comprehensive theoretical context and Sarris’ discussion of traditional tension among authors and filmmakers particularly informs a study of this work because of Kesey’s anger that so much of his original work was altered for the cinematic version. The differences between novel and film are a key component in any study of the movie because significant portions were cut are altered.
That attests to the fact that adaptation is informed by many interests and needs, such as making a film that appeals more widely than would a book, since a movie is a much higher-cost investment. Accumulating positive public opinion often requires simplifying complex narrative threads and rhetorical techniques or toning down upsetting subject matter-both of which occurred during Cuckoo’s Nest’s adaptation. Furthermore, a case study of the movie speaks to Sarris’ argument about the inherent differences between the two mediums; what can be captured in text may not lend itself to a visual, temporal depiction.
Kesey’s well-known opposition to his novel’s makeover reflects the “critical tension” that constitutes this article’s argument, which is why the piece is a valuable tool for analyzing the adaptation process in a study of Cuckoo’s Nest. Lobotomy: Surgery for the Insane A defining and tragic moment of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the lobotomy performed on McMurphy that leaves him a mere shadow of his former vivacious, rebellious self; his death symbolizes his inability to survive without those central qualities.
This Stanford Law Review article was published in 1949, at the beginning of the surgery’s popularity in treating the mentally ill. It provides insight into the procedure and the medical and cultural contexts that informed the novel and script, as well as influenced the character’s thoughts and actions. The article’s warning that “unfortunate use of these prefrontal lobotomies can so disintegrate a patient’s personality as to leave a mere ‘human vegetable'” accurately foreshadows McMurphy’s fate, which harnesses medical knowledge for symbolic representation.
The study outlines the predicted results of such a procedure, which include “a profound alteration of the patient’s personality” and a “lack of initiative” – goals Nurse Ratched aims for in order to punish McMurphy for his antics and, less overtly, for the threatening command he has over the patients. This study’s plentiful warnings about the negative outcomes of the surgery, even though it was printed at the height of use and believed potential, provide a lot of nsight into Nurse Ratched’s character and the overall attitudes of the mental hospital. The fact that they so willingly perform this procedure, well aware of its effects, show that they are truly intimidated by McMurphy and prepared to go to extremes to terminate his influence. The article, therefore, provides a highly informative medical and cultural context for the plot of Cuckoo’s Nest by revealing public and professional attitudes to the surgery that signals the protagonist’s demise.
At the same time, it projects those attitudes on screen, simultaneously informing public opinion. One Flew Over the Psychiatric Unit: Mental Illness and the Media This article examines the way mental illness is portrayed in public life, focusing on film representation and newspaper reporting, the nature of the audience and the concept of myth. Media representations can significantly affect public images of people who experience mental health problems, particularly when media paints them as dangerous or violent.
The article points to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as a well-known representation of madness and cites a study of college students who had considerable negative changes in attitude after watching the film, but no changes after watching a television documentary, which illustrates its influence. The article also addresses the relationship between film representation and newspaper reporting of mental illness, which both communicate societal values via symbolic forms. Crossover between fiction and reality demonstrates society’s obsession with the individual.
The article also argues that the notion that film representation and newspaper reporting of mental illness are solely responsible for the formulation of public opinion is a myth; the audience plays an active role in creating meanings based on previous interactions with the media and other life experience. Finally, the article discusses current government efforts to build health promotion into national mental health policy and tackle stigmatization through working with producers of newspapers and films.
In taking these steps, the article argues that it is important to recognize the ways in which real stories relating to mental illness coincide with fictional depictions and to come to understand the nature of audience consumption of representation. This article is relevant to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest because it discusses the role of media in shaping public opinion of mental illness. Many bodies of research on the film contend that its powerful negative portrayal of psychiatric institutions, procedures and staff contributed to negative attitudes toward the field.
For instance, the graphic and grotesque image of widely-administered ECT procedures is said to have cultivated greater public opposition to technique. The portrayal is simultaneously informed by current public attitudes, such as the 1970s emphasis on individuality and freedom from oppression, which was represented by McMurphy’s heroic rebellion against a repressive system. Anderson’s article takes this dynamic relationship a step further, contending that the media is not a one-way directional pressure that molds public opinion; the audience plays an integral role in interpreting and applying meaning to representations.
In considering Cuckoo’s Nest sociological role in informing culture about mental illness by both capturing and shaping public opinion, this article provides a framework for analysis by identifying and explaining the factors that influence attitudes. Oscar Goes Cuckoo This Entertainment Weekly editorial piece describes how “a rebel star, a ragtag cast, and a novice crew” produced One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which swept the top five categories at the Academy Awards. The article plots the path of the film’s production, from conception to release, charting the obstacles along the way.
Kirk Douglas acquired purchase rights from Kesey’s 1962 novel and scrambled to get Hollywood interested. Facing many hardships, he had almost given up on turning it into a movie by the end of the 1960s, despite the book’s huge success. A central component of the article focuses on filmmakers’ concerns over making a commercially appealing movie; they were concerned the subject matter was too depressing and grappled with changes from the novel, such as having Billy not commit suicide or McMurphy not choke Nurse Ratched.
The article is highly relevant and informative to a study of the film because it describes the hurdles of adaptation and production that resulted in “one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories. ” The discussion of the writing and filming process provides many insights into catering to public perception of mental illness and the difficulties of adaptation, which often faces the demanding task of staying in sense true to the original novel while taking into account the demands of translating a story into cinematic form. The final product reflects a number of changes.
They include removing Chief Bromden as the story’s subjective narrator, cutting out Cheswick’s suicide and changing McMurphy’s sexual recounts from describing being seduced by a nine-year-old to a fifteen-year-old. These changes seem to serve the purpose of making the film less complex and more palatable to the wider audience the producers wanted to attract – and the moves were clearly successful given its box office sales and critical acclaim. That said, the novel’s author was certainly upset over the changes, which he contented detrimentally altered his work.
This article serves as a clear-cut but informative portrait of the adaptation process and the difficulty of earning profit and popular appeal from complex and potentially upsetting subject matter. Screen Memories: Towards a History of Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis in the Movies Michael Shortland argues that the 1970s and 1980s saw the cinema adopt a more critical and antagonist stance towards psychiatry, of which One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a memorable example. His discourse focus on Snake Pit and Freud.
Snake Pit, which sought to provide a realistic depiction of life in an insane asylum, sparked debate about Britain’s asylum conditions. Shortland conjectures that through the 1950s, film figured psychoanalysis and psychiatry as compassionate and effective resources that were routine parts of daily life. It also discusses the incorporation of the Freudian image into cinema, notably through Freud, in a discussion of for truth of portrayal and how that impacts public perception of mental health care.
Shortland finds that the early depiction concurs with public opinion of holding psychiatry and its practitioner in high regard, but with little faith in the techniques used in mental hospitals. These studies are relevant to a study of Cuckoo’s Nest, which features generally negative images of mental institution staff and procedures, because it provides a history and methods of analyzing how cinematic portrayal affects public perception. The film plays an important role in American culture because it both reflects and informs public attitudes toward mental illness and care.
Looking at the way these issues have previously been captured by Hollywood grounds an analysis of Cuckoo’s Nest’s influence, so that the film can be compared to the predecessors that put mental illness on the cinematic map. Teaching Medical Sociology through Film: Theoretical Perspectives and Practical Tools This instructional article outlines methods for teaching medical sociology by using feature films as case studies. Pescosolido’s goal is to have students move away from a dualistic perspective and adopt a more multidisciplinary approach that understands its own limits.
He contends that this goal can be achieved through active class participation, which in larger classes, can use feature films because they cater to students’ high visual literacy. The central challenge of teaching medical sociology is having students develop awareness of the broader social factors that create conditions that expose individuals to health risks and to variation in treatment and outcome. They can achieve this by connecting what happens to individuals with what happens to characters and events of larger society.
Pescosolido uses mental illness as one example that illustrates the approach, citing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as an engaging and effective example. Additionally, the article’s appendix provides a list of relevant films on medical related subjects. Relevant to a study of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is Pescosolido’s description of the clash between the notion that “crazy” behavior is socially defined and the biomedical model’s capacity to diagnose and treat disease.
These approaches are very apparent in Forman’s portrayal of characters and situations. Social pressures – such as feelings of incompetence and emasculating female figures – seem to shape many of the patients’ dysfunctions. At the same time, the intent of the hospital is to ameliorate their conditions with drugs and surgery – a manifestation of these two views. Directly relating to the film is the article’s reference of it as an efficient and effective tool for teaching mental illness.
Pescodildo describes that Nurse Ratched represents a “symbol of medical authority and the rigidity of treatment in state institutions. ” Drawing connections between the two seemingly divided views of mental illness, the film suggests the use of lobotomy as “social control rather than treatment. ” The article paints an important union between these two extremes and provides insight into how they function cooperatively to create a powerful image of the mental health system.
That the patients’ illnesses are to varying levels caused by social forces issues a strong statement against certain mental health practices. The film’s impact on public attitudes is largely derived from its representation of graphic procedures like lobotomies and ECTS, which are then seemingly used for purposes of cruelty and social control rather than therapy. Through this extension, Pescodildo’s proposal on an effective teaching strategy provides insight into characterization and representation in Cuckoo’s Nest.
Furthermore, it speaks to how those depictions influence and reflect public knowledge about and attitudes toward the causes and treatments of mental illness. The Breasts of Big Nurse: Satire versus Narrative in Kesey’s “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” This article discusses Nurse Ratched’s dual role of victim and victimizer, arguing that although the character is often forced into a particular genre that minimizes her complexities, she is best decoded through a reading of the book as an “allegorical satire. Drawing parallels from many prior critics’ treatments of the character, Gefin points out the weaknesses of their propositions. He argues that conflict between satire and narrative is best observed at the character level and lays out the divergent aims and achievements of the two concepts: satire demands unified “cardboard” characters while narrative produces heterogeneous, decentered personalities. Gefin contends that Kesey’s “satirical intensions are constantly qualified if not undermined by his own fairly sophisticated narrative strategies. The function of “the breasts of big nurse” serve this same dual purpose, contrasting the machine-like inhumanness that compels Nurse Ratched to conceal herself in a stiff uniform and their indication of the Destructive or Bar Mother. Further, Gefin posits Candy as Big Nurse’s counter-image, connecting the “supposedly free yet submissive female with the asexual ball-cutter at the precise anatomical point of male obsession, fear and desire: the breast. Based on this analysis, Gefin contends that Forman is wrong in defending his portrayal of Nurse Ratched as “more humanized” in contrast to the “one-dimensional monster of the novel” because her textual form is multi-faceted and far from flat. Gefin’s literary analysis informs the adaptation process, providing information into how a character is transformed in the transition from page to screen. This insight is especially pertinent given the controversy over the film version Cuckoo’s Nest being offensively altered from its original form.
The fuel for this disagreement is clear through critique that the novel’s version of Nurse Ratched is not in fact “one-dimensional” but multifaceted and purposeful, serving as a role in satire and narrative development. This article’s biggest contribution to a discussion of the film is the insight it offers about how Forman might have tried to depict Big Nurse as multi-faceted and complex, since he evidently saw her in novel form as flat. His efforts are evident in the movie, which approaches her from compound angles.
For instance, focusing on stern glares and a crisp white uniform shows her as emotionless and cruel, while her calm and measured tone hints to internal turmoil of the narrative sense. The Image of the Nurse in Motion Pictures “The Image of the Nurse in Motion Pictures” analyzes the changing portrayal of nurses in film over time, with the intent of connecting the rise in fall of the image of nursing to adverse perceptions of the profession by patients and policy-makers and inhibition of nurses themselves.
Though that is its primary purpose, the study relates to Cuckoo’s Nest by delineating conventional portrayals of nurses in film, which provides a foundation to understand the contrast that makes Louise Fletcher’s character so unique and powerful. The article’s authors evaluated 204 English-speaking motion pictures released between 1930 and 1979 that focused on nurses or nursing, analyzing them quantitatively and qualitatively because Hollywood films help shape attitudes towards what is acceptable in contemporary life. The study was published in The American
Journal of Nursing in 1982, a time when the authors perceived a “current negative image of the nurse in motion pictures. ” The study found that while most Hollywood nurses chose the profession for altruistic motives and viewed their careers positively, 3. 4 percent demonstrated a clear dislike of the profession and a substantial number demonstrated an ambiguous attitude. The authors concluded that positive portrayal of nurses reached its peak at the height of World War II, but a dramatic decline began in the 1960s and intensified through the 1970s.
The findings of this study provide insight into the intent of Forman’s portrayal of Nurse Ratched and the other staff members. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s image of the malevolent Nurse Ratched is a far cry from traditional soft-spoken, sugar-sweet females – a contrast that illustrates the narrative’s sharp divide between two categories of women: “ball-cutters” and whores. The portrayal of Nurse Ratched introduced to the image a “propensity toward malevolence and sadistic personality heretofore only occurring in rare and limited instances. It explains that what makes her so “effective and frightening” is that her exterior facade is one of rationality and compassion, but her actions belie her appearance. This study’s contrast with other cinematic portrayals allows viewers to gain a deeper understanding of Nurse Ratched and the power of her role in Cuckoo’s Nest. It also shows how Forman’s representation both reflects and informs public opinion on nurses, a pertinent component of any argument about the film’s impact on American culture or its role in depicting mental illness on screen. http://tags. library. upenn. edu/project/26961