Laughter as Therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Laughter is a therapeutic form. In the novel One flew over the cuckoo’s nest by Ken Kesey laughter represents freedom and an escape from nurse Ratched’s restrictions.
Laughter also proves a vital role in helping the patients deal with their problems. Not only does it help them deal with problems but it also gave them the push toward progress on getting out of the institution.
Mcmurphy was the one who started making people laughing in the ward. When he first came into the ward he was cracking jokes and shaking everybody’s hand. (p.16)
No one in the ward responded with any real response but confusion. No body knew what laughter was in the ward, it was taken from them. The only thing they had was board games and Mrs. Ratched’s music (15). The ward was a very depressing place.
When Mcmurphy comes into the ward his laughing was making people uneasy. This showed how far away the patients were from reality. The chief says (22) “I see he is making every body over their uneasy, with all his kidding and joking.” Then right after he starts connecting to the patients and the Acutes actually show some sign of a smile (23) “The Acutes are grinning now not so uneasy any more glad that something out of the ordinary is happening.” Only after 8 pages there is progress already seen in the patients with laughter.
Chief Bromden states “The air is pressed in by the walls to tight to let loose and laugh.” Before Mcmurphy arrives it is true. After his presence is recognized by the patients Mrs. Ratcheds grip over the institution starts loosing its hold. The first thing the patients do to start breaking her hold is start the gambling. They gamble for money even though it’s against ward policy. Little by little the patients show improvement with themselves it is portrayed by the ability not just to laugh but laugh at their own qualities.
This occurs in the climax of the novel during the fishing trip (p215). When every ones lines tangle up and they start laughing at each other and themselves that is when they know that they aren’t really that crazy. They knew they were getting better. “They could sense the change that most of us were only suspecting; these weren’t the same bunch of weak-knees from a nut house.”
Nurse ratched lost a lot of her power once the patients knew that they had power in what goes on in the ward. They started demanding things like watching the World Series (even though they didn’t get to watch it they still demanded it), they wanted to tub room back. They let their voice be herd. Before they started laughing they didn’t have a voice. Dr. Spivey was also influenced by the laughter in the ward he used to be Nurse Ratched’s “manikin” he used to do what ever she told him but after he started laughing he actually took care of the patients and was opt to make the carnival and take them out for the fishing trip.
Laughter relates a...