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One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

American author Ken Kesey thought himself as the link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s.  He is best known for his novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, published in 1962.

His motivation into writing this book came after he volunteered to be part of a secretive CIA-financed study that looked at the affects of psychoactive drugs, while working as a night aide in a veteran’s hospital.

Set almost entirely in an Oregon State mental hospital, patients and doctors alike are strictly ruled by the mostly cruel and repressive “Big Nurse” Ratched.

Patients are kept under control through uncompromising routine, brain-deadening medication and electroshock therapy threats.  That is…until McMurphy comes along and tries to undo everything Nurse Ratched has built up over the years.  Will the other patients such as Chief Bromden follow suit or are they forever condemned to be a ghost of their true selves?

It was made into a successful film in 1975 starring Jack Nicholson that won five Academy Awards.  Even though Kesey was initially involved in creating the film, he soon left its production after varying disagreements.

What did you think of the characters McMurphy, Nurse Ratched and Chief Bromden?  Did any of the patients have a chance?  Has this put a different slant on mental hospitals and the experiences of patients?

Average Rating of All Readers

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  • Steve June 30, 2014, 7:50 pm

    I saw the movie years ago and I admit it’s left a lasting impression. I still can picture Jack Nicholson and I think he played McMurphy beautifully. So much so that now when I read the book, I couldn’t picture anyone else besides Nicholson as McMurphy even though his description in the book is not the same. A brilliant character who gradually realizes that he can’t charm or scam his way out of the powerful forces around him.

  • Chrissy June 30, 2014, 2:28 pm

    You want to hate Nurse Ratched and you do end up hating her. Instead of looking out for the welfare of the patients as she claims, she’s only looking out for herself, what best suits her, what gives her more authority. Because that’s what she’s all about, the queen who wants to rule her kingdom into submission. Not a person to have against you but if a battle is started with her, prepare to go all out.

  • Marly June 29, 2014, 8:53 pm

    Some of Chief Bromden’s “hallucinations” are way out there and initially you do start to think, okay, this guy belongs in here, he needs help. But as the book progresses, you realize that he does have a lot of wherewithal about him, particularly as he does such a great job of pretending to be deaf and dumb. Precisely because of this, the Chief can and does get by, pretty much unscathed by what’s happening around him. A good example of what you have to do to survive.

  • David June 29, 2014, 3:13 pm

    McMurphy comes into the hospital ward as a cocky usurper, thinking he’s going to have an easy time of it. Beats doing hard labour in the fields. He’s in for a surprise – physical hardship is exchanged for mental games, ones that you can’t easily win. Mental games that can irrevocably change your future. Showing what power in the wrong hands can do particularly to vulnerable people, brings out the scary element of this book.

  • Jane June 29, 2014, 2:16 pm

    What surprised me is Nurse Ratched’s total reign over the floor. You would have thought that the doctors would have more say or clout but they seem entirely inconsequential. Is order and complete control over patients the answer, especially when it’s exerted by one nurse whose motive is dubious.