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Patch Adams versus Randle McMurphy

Medicine is an integral part of modern life. Many people experience stress or burnout because they do not feel comfortable with the pace at which life is moving these days. As a result, they suffer both physically and emotionally. One the one hand, science, and technology continue to develop and some great discoveries are made in the field of medicine. On the other hand, these days, medicine remains soulless and expensive. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the film that shows how therapists treat mentally challenged people, primarily taking into account ethical aspects of living with a mental condition and curing it. The film was inspired by the novel written by Ken Kesey, one of the icons of the beat generation. Patch Adams is another film that tells a story of a man who has a vision of how building trust and a more humane attitude toward the patients on physicians’ part can actually make the healing process less painful and the process of the medication itself more effective. The two films send a message of the importance of a more caring attitude toward the patients on the doctors’ part, regardless of the nature of patients’ ailments.

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest vs Patch Adams

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One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a film directed by Milos Forman. The protagonist of the film is a young man in his thirties named Randle McMurphy, which is one of the film’s principal differences from Kesey’s original novel, wherein a half-Native American male named ‘Chief’ Bromden is the narrator and the protagonist. McMurphy is a scoundrel who is locked up in a lunatic asylum named Cuckoo’s Nest. This is all that the audience knows about the protagonist of the film the moment it meets him for the first time. As the audience becomes more familiar with McMurphy, it turns out that he is a mischievous yet resilient and, basically, a harmless man. He has the ability to understand how other people feel and the propensity for making others feel comfortable around him (Douglas & Forman, 1975). In the film, McMurphy is the only person who understands the wants and needs of the asylum’s patients (Douglas & Forman, 1975). Assuming that the foregoing statement is correct, basically, it is the reason McMurphy is challenged by Nurse Ratched, a domineering and uncomprehending woman (Douglas & Forman, 1975). He is clearly unwilling to conform to the vagaries of the asylum’s regime. When the asylum’s staff members can no longer control the situation and attempt to bring the patients down, one of the patients, Billy Bibbit, commits suicide. McMurphy ends up undergoing a surgical procedure against his will because the staff decides on performing the lobotomy. After these two events, frustration and anger become so strong within Chief Bromden, who is a shy and docile man, that he decides to escape from the hospital. This is how the film One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest ends.

Patch Adams is a film inspired by true events, specifically, the life, work, and opinions of Dr. Hunter Doherty ‘Patch’ Adams. In the film, the audience is introduced to Adams the moment when he is an inmate of a mental facility. At this moment, Adams reaches a moral epiphany, after which he decides to enroll at the medical school, becoming the eldest of all first-year students (Farrell & Shadyac, 1998). He makes friends and forms an attachment with a girl named Corrine (Farrell & Shadyac, 1998). An episode that has affected Adams’s therapeutic techniques was an encounter with a man who was in the terminal stage of an incurable disease, suffering from the excruciating pain (Farrell & Shadyac, 1998). This, probably, was the moment when Adams had an idea of a medical facility for people who cannot afford to pay large bills. However, Adams’ plans are interrupted by Corrine’s tragic death. His grief is quiet but deep. Nevertheless, his resilience, courage, and strength make him strong enough to continue living for the things he believes in and to accomplish his plan.

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One the one hand, McMurphy and Adams have very much in common in terms of the perception of how people, especially those living with a disease, should be treated. Both believe that the approach that most medical specialists adhere to is wildly soulless. Unlike McMurphy, Adams becomes a certified physician. Unlike Adams, McMurphy has a criminal record of committing assaults. Even though both have a gift of healing people, listening to them, and soothing their pain, the majority do not approve of McMurphy’s and Adams’ approach to the treatment of patients and techniques of curing them. McMurphy and Adams are both nonconformists. McMurphy’s protest leads him to surgery and eventual death. Adams has his way of rebelling against the norms that dictate the work of a medical specialist. Cynically as it sounds, for Adams, there is hope, for McMurphy – there is none.

The motive of oppression manifests itself in both films under consideration in a virtually equal measure. The respective systems that each of the films being discussed portrays are oppressive to almost all people, especially those who are involved in medical services. McMurphy’s ambition is for the staff of the asylum to treat the patients like their equals. At the same time, Adams dreams of founding an institution where all those in need could find help and support. The notion of empowerment is one of the main motives of the film Patch Adams. One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, on the other hand, is the illustration of the imperfectness of the existing healthcare system and the absence of balance between human services needs and the utilization of community resources. The marginalization of the healthcare system and human services in their entirety is the aftermath of deficient funding. With regard to this, the fact that many medical specialists start working in their field of expertise unprepared seems to be another factor deteriorating the quality of healthcare services, in particular, and human services, in general.



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Watching Patch Adams and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest has had some considerable effects on my perception of working in human and healthcare services. The films helped to create a vision that a human service professional should be like – competent, caring, perceptive, receptive, attentive, and supportive. Through the portrayal of some extraordinary events, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Patch Adams address serious aspects related to human and healthcare services. The thematic frameworks of the films are represented by but not limited to the sense of duty, responsibility, loss, and dignity. Based on what I saw in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Patch Adams, I presume that human service agencies and human service professionals play an important in the life of communities. Furthermore, I believe that human service professionals and human service agencies can influence the communities’ well-being, as well as the quality of life of individuals. Patch Adams and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest have touched me deeply. I recommend watching the films to all those who have an interest in becoming a medical specialist of any kind and want to build a career in human services. Protection Status