Psychoanalytic Theory: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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The psychoanalytic theory “The divided self” by Rd Laing describes how everyone has multiple personalities that changes depending on the environment they are in. McMurphy from the novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a prime example of someone with a divided self. He is placed in an environment that challenges and tests him as a person. As a result, he has created his own two personas each with their own goals and moral compass. Nurse Ratched, his main antagonist, knows about his personal problems and exploits it. She enjoys humiliating the patients in front of McMurphy because she knows there is little he could do about it. McMurphy is torn between doing what is necessary to get out and helping his friends. By applying Rd Laing’s “The …show more content…
She takes pleasure in watching her paitents breakdown and have a tantrum. For example the quote " They spy on each other. Sometimes one man says something about himself that he didn’t aim to let slip, and one of his buddies at the table where he said it.... and writes down the piece of information he heard - of therapeutic interest to the whole ward, is what the Big Nurse says the book is for" reveals the true intention Nurse Ratched has for her 'therapeutic sessions '. The whole purpose of the log book was to create an environment where the patients both fear her and distrust each other. This allows her to have complete control over everyone since the patients are afraid of what 's in the book. However despite this clear act of manipulation, many of the patients think that they are better off with the log book. This enrages McMurphy because a part of him feels that it is his responsibility to expose what she is doing to them. For example the quote "So I’m saying five bucks to each of you that wants it if I can’t put a betsy bug up that nurse’s butt within a week.” represents the creation of McMurphy 's divided self. By choosing to take the bet McMurphy has given himself the responsibility to help the patients with the risk of hurting himself. He is now forced to split his personality into two to please himself and the …show more content…
The nurse has had a clear advantage over McMurphy since she is able to hurt him and the people he is trying to save. Despite his physical pain McMurphy does his best to please everyone. For example after taking everyone on a fishing trip his friend, Bromden, describes McMurphy as an unusual kind of tired. It is clear that he cannot withstand the pain of his two conflicting ideal. The more he tries to help Bromden and his friends the further he is from his original goal which was to leave the mental ward. McMurphy wants to do both but haven 't realized yet that he could only be one person. For instance the quote "The girl had dozed off again, and McMurphy was leaning against her with a satisfied and sleepy grin." symbolizes the end for McMurphy. He had tried so hard to give Billy Bibbit a chance to be human that he forgot about his original plan to escape. This fatal mistake leads to both Billy Bibbit and McMurphy to die in the end. The reason this happen was because McMurphy was trying to be the hero while also keeping his gambler persona alive. McMurphy 's divided self tore him up in the end. In conclusion Rd Laing 's theory "The divided self" explains why most people have identity issues. We all live in a world that will never accept who we truly are. As a result many of us create multiple identities that often hurt

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