We All Need a “McMurphy” In Our Lives

Posted: November 18, 2011 in Uncategorized
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As amazing as it sounds, last night was the first time in my life that I have seen “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” starring Jack Nicholson. Supported by other high-profile celebrities such as Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd (Doc from Back to the Future) and directed by Michael Douglas, this is one of the first movies to bring mental illness awareness to the masses in a time where the topic was shunned and even swept under the rug.

I was so taken back by this movie in so many different ways that I don’t even know where to start, but the main topic that I want to touch on first is how fearful the patients are. Fearful for trying anything and how submissive and dependent they have become under not only Nurse Ratched, but dependent to a set schedule and lifestyle. Fear had taken over their lives and when introduced with new ideas or activities, it initially created havoc. But what was amazing was that when the patients saw McMurphy imagine he was actually watching the World Series, others followed. It opened up their minds to imagine such a beautiful thing as our nations pasttime, The Fall Classic.

Most individuals with mental illness develop a sense of dependency or a loss of individualism where they constantly doubt their ability to do anything. Furthermore, fear plays a role in this because it doesn’t stop at the doubt, it continues with the worry that if they were to try to do something, that they will fail. There are several instances in this film where McMurphy actively shows and encourages his friends to try different things, from a simple activity such as fishing, or playing blackjack, and especially showing Chief how to play basketball. The sense of joy the characters felt when they came to harbor with huge fish, or how much they LOVED to lose their cigarettes playing blackjack and eagerness to TRY to win them back, or when Chief scored a few baskets is what all people in life, not just those with mental illness, strive to attain. We all feel a sense of accomplishment when we achieve something ourselves. We all need a little push in life to try different things, or to be shown how. But once the ball is rolling, there is no stopping it.<

The second part of the film that struck a cord with me is the therapy session immediately after McMurphy found out that he would not be released according to the length of his prison sentence. He went on to learn that most of the patients were there on their own accord, which is huge, but it outraged McMurphy and pointed out to each that they were only as crazy as every other person on the street.

After the scuffle that occurred after this session, McMurphy, Chief, and Cheswick were sent up to the floor above. While McMurphy and Chief were sitting on the bench after seeing Cheswick get brought away, McMurphy offered Chief a piece of Juicy Fruit. It was by no mistake that the first words Chief had spoken in this movie were to McMurphy, and it was also no mistake that those first words were “Thank You”. The things that McMurphy taught people to see in themselves meant the world to them, to the point that Billy pleaded with McMurphy to stay in the facility right before he was set to make his escape to Canada. When McMurphy was returned to the dorm at the end of the movie, Chief tells McMurphy he was ready to leave, that he was strong as a mountain and he had been waiting for him to return.

McMurphy initially had alterior motives for pretending he was “crazy” – so that he could get out of prison, but while in the facility he pointed out that no one in there was crazier than anyone else on the outside. Maybe we all need to realize that we’re just as crazy as everyone else as well, or the “crazies” out there are no more crazy than us. We all need a McMurphy in our lives, or maybe we all need to be the McMurphy.

  1. studiobrow says:

    Such a great movie!

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