Conformity is a major concept in almost every work of literature; in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest, Kesey portrays a psychiatric ward and the clash between the mentally unstable patients and the head nurse of the ward. One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest drew immediate attention to metal illness in 1963, and still continues to appear in society by means of articles, lectures, and art with audiences of varying ages alluding to characters, themes, and concepts from the novel.
Aware of the many misconceptions of mental illness, many programs provide education to children to teach them the importance of positively intertwining the mentally ill with society. “Beyond the Cukoo’s Nest” is an educational resource that focuses on stopping the stigma associated with mental health. Alluding to the novel, the program hopes to contradict the awful conditions set in the psychiatric ward in One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest. (Currah). “Our name pays homage towards creating safe, healing spaces for all, by asking students to move beyond the stigmatizing portrayal of the novel. (Currah). The allusion to Kesey’s novel in the title of the program adds a more graphic portrayal of the wrongful perspective surrounding mental health because it refers to the awful conditions of the mental ward in One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest. In one scene the narrator, a mentally unstable patient, describes the ward as” a dorm that has a thousand smells- smell of piss and sour old man manure, of Pablum and eyewash, of musty shorts and socks…” (Kesey 101). By alluding to this awful setting, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health is able to more vividly relay the disheartening, oppressing conditions of mental institutes that it i...
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... attitudes, but those who had just seen the documentary were skewed towards the positive side. Thus showing the impact of the film, that is fictional severely impacted individuals to not trust reality of mental hospitals depicted in the documentary” (Wahl 348-349). This research concluded that the impact of Kesey’s novel significantly impacted the public’s opinion of mental health, and even in caused lasting impressions that were barely swayed after receiving factual information pertaining to mental institutes.
One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest provided the American public with one of the first glimpses into a mental ward. While not entirely accurate, the impressions were lasting as many works reference it and allude to the characters and themes of the novel. Ribald and saddening, the novel is not for everyone and therefore should not be mandatory reading in school.
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