One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Oppressive Life in Mental Hospital.

One of the most frequently referred movies in psychology classes, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) is a vivid, engaging, and somehow exaggerated portrayal of the patients and conditions in mental hospitals in the 1950s.  In this movie patients of mental illness live in a restrictive and oppressive environment under the hospital’s cold, unhuman administration.  However the theme of mental hospital is far from reality today.  Mental institutions today are more like a senior center with full of care and hospitality.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest also demonstrates how electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was abused for controlling and punishing the rebelling patients.  In fact, ECT was often overused and even misused in the middle of the twentieth century, but today more caution is applied in the use of ECT, and it is actually used much less now.  Although ECT was originally developed for the treatment of schizophrenia, it is today mainly used as effective method for treating depression.  Although ECT can result in serious side effects such as memory loss or even death in rare cases, it is considered an option for treating severe depressions “especially when patients do not respond to other treatments” (Oltmanns & Emery, 2012, p. 56).


Oltmanns, T. F. & Emery, R. E. (2012). Abnormal psychology (7th ed.).  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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