One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
The movie is narrated by Chief Bromden, a patient in the mental ward that acts deaf and dumb and suffers from paranoia and hallucinations. His story is based around Randle P. McMurphy and the other patients in the mental ward, who have been frightened and over powered by the head nurse, Nurse Ratched. Nurse Ratched uses her power and authority to make the patients submit and do what she wants them to do. McMurphy, who is not crazy, stirs up the other patients and fights for freedom from the controlling Nurse Ratched. Little did McMurphy know the complete power Nurse Ratched had when he was given electroshock treatment and a lobotomy, which left him like a vegetable.
The mental ward is under strict control of Nurse Ratched, she had all of the patients under submission until McMurphy came. She controls the patients by unethically weakening their already destroyed mental state and ruining their self-esteem. Shaming the patients into submission to gain control, is unethical and non beneficial. The patients need help and security not necessarily authority. Punishments given like electroshock therapy and lobotomies are painful and dangerous to the patients, and unethical in themselves. As McMurphy rebelled against Nurse Ratched, the other thought she would send him to a different ward, or kick him out, however she chose to keep him in the ward and make him conform to in front of all the others to try and gain more power over her patients.
McMurphy’s ethical dilemma, within himself, is of doing what he thinks is right by rebelling against Nurse Ratched’s authority, or fall into submission of her controls in order to avoid punishment. He believe that she controls the already week minded patients by manipulation, and doesn’t believe it is right. McMurphy chooses to rebel agents her authority and lead the others in order to gain more freedom and respect. While in the ward McMurphy realized the total amount of power Nurse Ratched holds, she was in control of everything from the patient’s schedule to their medication, and even over their punishments. In order to leave the ward he has to be released by Nurse Ratched, so while he wants to lead a rebellion and help in the other’s rehabilitation he also feels obligated to follow her authority in order to leave the ward.
McMurphy entered the ward trying to manipulate the system, thinking that the “6 months” he had to serve would be easier served in a mental institution versus in jail. He is not crazy, however he is very loud, sexual, and confident; he becomes a leader to all of the patients and feels obligated to finish what he started, sacrificing his own state of mind and life for the others. He does not agree with the unethical treatment that Nurse Ratched does towards the patients, which leads him into a conflict with his own ethics.
In order to get the others to participate in his attempt to rebel against conformity he used ad hominems attacking their sexuality, courage, and mental states. Nurse Ratched also results to ad hominems to gain control over the ward, even encouraging others to do so in their group counseling meetings. The ad hominems puts shame on the patients which causes them to do what the “attacker” wants them to do.
Both Nurse Ratched and McMurphy used herd instinct by trying to use the force of society, which in this case is the ward, to make the others feel obligated to act a certain way. If a person acts alone they are more likely to be unsuccessful then if they were all acting together in a group.