How does Chief define the therapy in the institution in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Chief believes that the institution’s therapy consists of control.  Chief believes that the institution wants to control all aspects of the patients.  His conspiracy extends to government and industrial interests that want to reduce all of the patients, and all of humanity, to mechanized automaton form.  Chief feels that there is no rehabilitation or care of patients, but rather control and dominance.  This is evident in his belief of the “fog.”  Chief believes that all those in the position of power and authority over the patients engage in this so that they can end up controlling the lives of the patients, preventing and precluding them from exercising their own voice in the construction of their destiny.  It is in this where Chief acts at the end in that he has gained the courage from his friendship with McMurphy to take action.  His actions at the end demonstrate his belief that he will never be in control of who he is and what he shall do while he is in the institution as they will never allow it.  When he leaves, it is the absolute statement that life is a force that cannot be repressed or controlled, something that happens frequently in Chief’s mind in the institution.

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