The Quality of Psychiatric Hospitalization
Improved or Not from the 1960s
Galen College of Nursing
This evaluative essay is based on Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962). When penning this novel, Kesey worked as an orderly in a psychiatric ward; and he participated in experimental LSD trials. It is to determine if the quality of psychiatric hospitalization has improved or not since the publication of this book.
The Quality of Psychiatric Hospitalization: Improved or Not from the 1960s
When One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was written, in the 1960s, it gave an accurate description of the mental health industry of the 1960s. The use of external constraints like electroconvulsive therapy, insulin coma therapy, and lobotomies, was considered the “treatment of preference,” and was commonly practiced to control the personal and social behaviors of mentally ill patients. These treatments left patients severely damaged. When the anti-psychotic Thorazine was introduced in 1954 as a way to calm patients with disorders such as schizophrenia and manic-depression, millions of people were prescribed the drug as a way to help hospital staff keep order in over-crowded facilities. Psychiatric hospitals of the 1960s consumed and extinguished the identities of their patients, and replaced it with an institutionalized one. They were not allowed to have any personal effects, not even their own clothes. These mentally ill people were treated as a process of trial and error guided by public attitudes and medical theory.
There were no patient’s rights during this time. State mental hospitals in the United States housed and treated over 500,000 patients, according to William Gronfein, an associate professor at Indiana University-Purdue University. Today, there are less than 40,000 living in institutions/hospitals. In 1963, John F. Kennedy...