Three punishments await patients who refuse to answer Nurse Ratched's questions in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The nurse asks probing questions designed to make the patients squirm, and she inflicts increasingly severe punishments if they don't answer the questions. These questions are just one of the many ways she asserts control over the men on the ward.
The men's first refusal to answer results in being labeled as "Potential Assaultive," a designation that causes the patient to be moved to the Disturbed Ward. There, patients are not even allowed to watch television, which is one of the few diversions offered at the hospital. Patients on the Disturbed Ward are also confined to the campus, unable to join the other men for Saturday outings to the movies.
If the behavior recurs, patients "get lined up to go to the Shock Shop" where they receive electroshock therapy. The third and worst of the punishments "if you continue demonstrate such hostile tendencies" is a lobotomy, according to Harding. Harding tells McMurphy that a lobotomy is "[f]rontal-lobe castration." Harding adds, "I guess if she can’t cut below the belt she’ll do it above the eyes.”