Nguyen Analysis 4

After reading the chapters of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I couldn’t help think what was his 
inspiration for writing this? Was he a neurodivergent himself? I came across a site called Lit 
Lovers and thought that seemed legitimate. In 1959, Ken Kesey was studying at Stanford 
University. During this time, he decided to take part in a CIA- financed study called: Project 
MKULTRA at the Menlo Park Veterans’ Hospital. The project mostly consists of studying the 
effects of psychoactive drugs. For instance, LSD, cocaine, mescaline, etc. During his time here, 
he wrote many of his experiences with the drugs down both during the project and during private 
experimentations with these drugs. Sorry, I forgot to mention that Kesey was basically a guinea 
pig for these scientists to test these drugs. According to this blog, “He was paid $75 to be an 
experimental subject, take psychedelic pharmaceuticals and report on their effects. According to 
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $75 in 1960 would be the approximate equivalent of more 
than $550 dollars today. $550 to take LSD” (Suer 2011). It is also mentioned that in the earlier 
years, LSD was believed to the drug that could hopefully be a treatment to mental illness… which 
I don’t understand why they would think that if it just creates hallucinations for the person taking it. 
Kesey had the inspiration to write One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest when he was working at one 
of the night shifts at the hospital. Kesey spent most of his time talking to patients and some of the 
times, they were influenced under the drugs. The combining of Kesey in being a night aide and 
also being under the influence of these drugs have possibly helped him capture some of the 
experiences that the characters in his book went through at their mental hospital. In the article it 
states that “Kesey did not believe that these patients were insane, rather that society had pushed 
them out because they did not fit the conventional ideas of how people were supposed to act and 
behave” (Litlovers). I connected what he said with given the history that we learned in class about 
autism through Silberman and the films that we watched. In the earlier texts of Silberman, he 
talked about how autistic people were diagnosed as “imbeciles” in hospitals that they were 
admitted into. People in society did not understand the behaviors and symptoms of this disorder in 
the earlier years so they put them in mental hospitals and find their own ways of “curing” them. I 
feel that people in society tend to do that. When they see people act differently or in ways that is 
beyond their understanding so they label them as “crazy” or “insane.” I feel that after seeing 
Kesey’s quote, I feel like his purpose of the book was to show that the hospital wasn’t about 
healing or helping these people, but rather dehumanizing and manipulating the patients. Now 
knowing the background information of Kesey helped me understand how he made such a great 
depiction of the experiences that his character goes through and the detail put into the piece.  
 
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey- Author … (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2016, 
from 
 
Suer, K. (2011, March 08). PCS Blog – Ken Kesey: Government Guinea Pig? – Portland … 
Retrieved October 23, 2016, from 
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