One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Insanity Essay

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey, considers the qualities in which society determines sanity. The label of insanity is given when someone is different from the perceived norm. Conversely, a person is perceived as sane when their behavior is consistent with the beliefs of the majority. Although the characters of this novel are patients of a mental institution, they all show qualities of sanity. The book is narrated by Chief Brodmen, an observant chronic psychiatric patient, who many believe to be deaf and dumb. The question of sanity becomes apparent when McMurphy, a confident gambler, who might have faked psychosis in order to get out of the work farm, is assigned to the mental hospital. He quickly stirs up tension in the ward for Nurse Ratched by encouraging the men to have fun and rebel against her rules. Brodmen appears to be sane for the most part, despite his hallucinations of a fog, which seems to be the result of something both the ward and the world has done to him. He is able to think logically and though others believe him to be deaf and dumb, he uses this to his advantage. Chief states, “They don't bother not talking out loud about their hate secrets when I'm nearby because they think I'm deaf and dumb. Everybody thinks so. I'm cagey enough to fool them that much.” (Kesey 1). This …show more content…

How they are perceived, and their of lack ability to meet the expectations of society was interpreted as mental illness. Although they are all institutionalized for different reasons, the one they all have in common is society. McMurphy, for example, was admitted for being a “psychopath”, while others felt that they were not able to function and signed themselves up voluntarily. Consequently, society sets up expectations for what is viewed as normal. If these expectations are not met or if someone is different they walk the fine line of sanity vs.

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