Give examples of the way the patients are controlled based on the grounds that "It's for your own good."

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The paternalism of "It's for your own good" is found in many components of Nurse Ratched's control.  The element of power and order is what underlies such a claim.  All of Nurse Ratched's rules are in place with the idea that the patients' well being is served.  From the time to brush teeth, to medicine distribution, to the rules of group therapy, to watching a baseball game, to going outside, the entire structure of the medical ward is designed with the idea of"it's for your own good."  Nurse Ratched's consistent line of defense against McMurphy's questioning is that her rules and order is in the interests of the patients.  This line becomes the ultimate cover for making the patients drones, and denying the essence of individuality.  If we think about it this line can be applied to the most sinister parts of the mental health care offered in the ward.  Shock therapy, lobotomies, and other forcible measures of control can be enacted because "it's for your own good." The patients act in a way of fear and ignorance because they have been told they cannot endure the realities of freedom on the grounds that "it's for your own good."  The silencing of their voices and desire to make them passive is something that has been done in an attempt to control and lessen their sensibilities. In this setting the idea of controlling patients with this idea in mind becomes the tool that enhances and fortifies Nurse Ratched's structure and power.

terifoltz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The interesting point made about Nurse Ratched's stated motivation for her "rules" is that she actually can make an argument for "It's for your own good."  For instance, they can't turn the music down in the ward because some men are comforted by the music and would be disturbed without it.  That could very well be true.  The men find it impossible to argue with the Big Nurse's logic and if they try, they are left feeling selfish and unfeeling.  Their low self esteem prevents them from continuing an argument which would lead them to feel even worse about themselves. Big Nurse knows this.  This information is used to manipulate the men and maintain control. Shock therapy was used to a positive end by removing harmful memories in mental patients, allowing them to be happier, so when the Big Nurse suggests that McMurphy needs shock therapy, she convinces the doctors that it is for his own good.  True, Mac is subdued after the therapy, but not happier.  HIs happiness and contentment was never a goal for the Big Nurse; rather, she got what he wanted under the guise of Mac's welfare.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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