In the movie, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," Mcmurphy, the main character, undergoes a frontal lobotomy ("cutting of the lobes") to treat his ‘mental illness,’ after several rounds of ECT were unsuccessful in crushing his spirit. In the final scenes of the movie we see from his disposition that he has been reduced from an animated, hyperactive state to a vegetative state. McMurphy’s friend, Chief, tries to talk him, but he stares straight ahead and does not respond. The movie takes place in an insane asylum in the 1950’s, the height of the lobotomy craze in the United States. Between 1939 and 1950, nearly 20,000 documented lobotomies were performed, and thousands more in other countries (1). At first the procedure was used in lieu of Electronic Shock Therapy, for rowdy patients who did not respond well to ECT. The lobotomy was applied as a ‘"fix-all" solution for people with all kinds of major or minor mental disorders. Of course, such an invasive procedure is meant to be used only as a last resort in severe cases of debilitating illness. Many doctors, looking for a quick fix for their patients, used the procedure in cases of "undesirable behavior." Unfortunately, such a broad criterion meant that anything from Schizophrenia to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), to unruly behavior in general could be treated by lobotomy. In Japan many of the people lobotomized were just children who did not behave well or who performed poorly in school.
What started the lobotomy craze? As with any result, it is difficult to say what exactly prompted the explosion in popularity of such a gruesome surgery. We can begin by exploring the origins of lobotomy in general: In th...
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...d for the rest of their lives. It made so many people worse." As for McMurphy, it is clear in the end of the film that he has no way out of the mental hospital, for he is nearly a vegetable, and no one in such a state could be self-sufficient. And so, by killing him, Chief is giving his friend freedom and thus is actually demonstrating an incredible amount of love and reverence for his friend who fell victim to ‘the system,’ as so many others did who are STILL in asylums today.
1)History of Lobotomy,http://www.epub.org.br/cm/n02/historia/lobotomy.htm
2)PBS Website, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entnes/dh35lo.html
3)Nobel Prize Website, http://nobelprize.org/medicine/articles/moniz/
4)Research Articles, http://www.psychosurgery.org/articles.html
5)The Frontal Lobe, http://www.cbc/natureofthings/features/brain/brainmain.htm
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