Sunday, 25 May 2014

let's hear it for 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'! hip hip hooray!!

I am very grateful for the book by Ken Kesey and film 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' directed by Miloš Forman and starring Jack Nicolson.  

Hip hip hooray!  Hip hip hooray!  Hip hip hooray!

In 1978 when I experienced what psychiatrists called a "puerperal psychosis" due to hormone imbalance, after my 2nd son's induced birth, I voluntarily entered Hartwoodhill psychiatric hospital where I was put under pressure to accept ECT.  I knew what it was and didn't want it because my mother had many courses of shock treatment against her will, in Murray Royal Hospital, Perth, in the 1950's and 1960's.  She didn't want it either.

I managed to escape the threat of ECT by running out of the ward in my pyjamas at the visiting time, aided and abetted by my husband.  I had to go back in the ward because of muscle spasms due to coming off the chlorpromazine which they had forcibly injected me with, on my backside. 

But I avoided the ECT although the nurses gave me a telling off, saying I would have recovered quicker with the shock treatment.  I didn't believe them and thought they were mad to say this, lacking insight.

In 1981 I saw the film 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' at a youth leaders' training weekend at Wrangholm Hall, New Stevenston, Lanarkshire, and thought it a wonderful, accurate portrayal of what it was like from the psychiatric inpatient viewpoint.

Then in 1984 I had another altered mind state right after the birth of my 3rd son, also induced by chemicals to deliver on the day shift.  This time around in Hartwoodhill psych open ward I saw no queuing up of people getting ECT and was put under no pressure to accept it.  I assumed the film had impacted on this.

Here is an article I just read today about the film in Psychiatric Times: 'We are still flying over the cuckoo's nest' by psychiatrist Steven Moffic who says: "Now, more than 50 years since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was published and almost 40 years since the movie was released, the issues seem as relevant today as they were back then.". 

I agree.  Especially as in Scotland we are seeing shock treatment or ECT being promoted as a life-saving treatment by psychiatrists and brain surgery for mental illness or NMD being promoted by the Dundee Advanced Interventions Service.

I say let's promote alternative ways of working with people in altered mind states, psychoses and mental distress that doesn't involved forcing treatment into or onto a person via psychiatric drugs or shocks to the brain then needed brain surgery as a last resort.   

New pain for old is not a humane way of working with our fellow human beings.  In my opinion.

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