Treatments After the mid-1950's lobotomies quickly began falling out of favor due to the creation of anti-psychotic drugs which were proving more effective and less dangerous (Levinson). On the other hand, Electroshock therapy is still used today although it is much safer with fewer side effects (Mayo).
In the novel, patients are given shock treatment and lobotomies as punishment for misbehaving, even though at that time those treatments were becoming less popular. Kesey's novel exposed the dangers of these treatments and played a role in starting change in the treatment of patients (collord).
Separation Kesey recalls how when he was working in a mental hospital, there was a glass window through which the staff could observe the patients yet still be separated from them (interview)
“went out and looked through the window, a little, tiny window, and the door there with a heavy, heavy screen between two panes of glass. There was no way to break out…They would come in and look at me in there, and I’d look at them through this little window” - Kesey
Nurse Ratched uses the window to separate herself from the patients yet still be omnipresent in the patients minds, able to watch what there doing at all times, discouraging disobedience. Kesey uses the character McMurphy to smash the glass apart, effectively starting the process of breaking her control of the patients.
Balance of power Mental institutes have a balance of power that is between the formal, sanctioned power of the staff and the covert, illegitimate power of the patients (Braginsky 51).
Kesey accurately represents these two different powers in the power struggle between the head nurse and McMurphy. The nurse holds all the real power, given to her as head of the hospital but McMurphy shows that he too has power, as a patient, which he uses to undermine the nurses authority by following her rules yet still getting his own way