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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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An exceptionally tall, Native American, Chief Bromden, trapped in the Oregon psychiatric ward, suffers from the psychological condition of paranoid schizophrenia. This fictional character in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest struggles with extreme mental illness, but he also falls victim to the choking grasp of society, which worsens Bromden’s condition. Paranoid schizophrenia is a rare mental illness that leads to heavy delusions and hallucinations among other, less serious, symptoms. Through the love and compassion that Bromden’s inmate, Randle Patrick McMurphy, gives Chief Bromden, he is able to briefly overcome paranoid schizophrenia and escape the dehumanizing psychiatric ward that he is held prisoner in.
The background of Chief Bromden’s life makes him a likely target for mental illness. Conflict that Chief’s father faced also negatively impacted Chief. His father was Chief Tee Ah Millatoona of the Umpqua tribe and his mother was a white woman. Chief’s father took his mother’s last name, “Her name is Bromden. He took her name” (214). This suggests her domination in the relationship, but it is made clear that her extreme belittling had negative psychological effects: “It wasn't just her that made him little. Everybody worked on him because he was big, and wouldn't give in, and did as he pleased... He fought it a long time until my mother made him too little to fight anymore and he gave up" (220). Just like his father, Chief was a big man crushed into a tiny man by the pressures of society. Chief grew up living a normal life, without schizophrenia, on the Columbia Gorge in an Umpqua village led by his father. The first memorable trigger of Chief’s schizophrenia came when government officials were inspecting his vil...

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