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Communism in a Box

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mohobbs1
Words 612
Pages 3
Communism In A Box One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest written by Ken Kesey is about a psych ward who’s main priority isn’t to care for the insane, but to find frivolous reasons to punish them. The patients are always on edge, scared they will be punished for something they unconsciously did. The only person that makes them feel like the ward isn’t in complete control and that they have some ounce of freedom left is the newest inmate McMurphy. Ken Kesey uses Nurse Ratched, the dictator of this ward, who punishes her patients just as the fascist forms of government do to their people in our world today. The hospital is like a fascist state, one rules and the rest obey. Rules are made up along the way so the patients can be punished for anything that the dictator deems unacceptable. Any attempt the patients make to question authority or show any expression of freedom is met with strict action on behalf of the dictator. One source of control is the “red pill”. “Fredrickson likes a double dose because he’s scared to death of having a fit.” (153) The patients are unaware of the name or effects of this pill, but must do so reluctantly. Some, like Fredrickson take the pill in hopes of never having a fit again even if it is just a placebo. If the patients refuse to ingest it, they will be punished in terms psychiatric techniques including electroconvulsive therapy and lobotomy. They are forced to put their trust in these people involuntarily. Just like in fascism, anyone questioning decisions made by the people or person in charge are subjected to extreme punishment. Even if the one in charge is wrong, the rest must follow. Electroconvulsive therapy or “electric shock therapy” induces a seizure that can cure depression, but this technique is abused and used as a severe form of punishment in the ward.

“The war door opened, and the black boys wheeled in this Gurney with a chat at the bottom that said in heavy black letters, MC MURPHY, RANDLE P. POST-OPERATIVE. And below this was written in ink, LOBO-
TOMY.” (277)
Lobotomy is a technique that involves removing important connections to the prefrontal cortex leaving the patient a “vegetable”. The problem with these procedures used in this particular ward is that they were used as a punishment instead of being used to get rid of the predicament the patients originally had that placed them in the psych ward. In McMurphy’s case, he wasn’t punished like one would normally be. He was getting parts of his brain scraped out because he tore Nurse Ratched’s shirt off. Nurse Ratched is certainly abusing her power and ruining someone’s life forever for having a breakout that should be accepted as usual in a psychiatric ward for the insane. Ken Kesey writes critically on the practice of medicine and how important it is. During this time period, people began to realize that a brain operation for psychiatric issues was similar to blowing up a cornfield to rid it of bugs. While in today’s society, the role of practicing medicine has drastically improved with the assistance of technological advances. Many of the techniques used during the time period of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest are now considered barbaric. Ken Kesey uses this novel to show the negative effects that the abuse of power can have on a human beings life. Just as certain government systems abuse their power and take it out upon their people. The hospital serves as a symbol of a power stricken society in which Nurse Ratched, the dictator, controls using medicine as her weapon.

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