Moving onto the aggressive side of things … One flew cont.

Aggressive feelings and reactions, ranging from defence and self-assertion to destruction and killing, played central parts in the story. Aggression as experienced and expressed by the main characters, appeared to be both fantasy-oriented, transferred, as well as reality-based, part of the developing situation in the ward.  At the same time and in parallel to McMurphy’s reality-based reactions towards the domineering nurse Ratced, many of his reactions could be understood in the light of the aggressive transference response. It was being presented quite clearly throughout the story that he had been repeating himself in recreating certain relating patterns in his life.

When experiencing pressure he needed to fight back, feeling particularly oppressed by what he might regard as authority ruling. Nurse Ratced was the authority figure and McMurphy seemed to react impulsively at times. When confronted with coercion he acted out his detest and aggression.  In the light of the transference concept, his intense anger and rejection of her, link to his history and the similar ways he has been relating to the others in the past.  His relatedness give indication of a possible authoritarian or/and neglectful upbringing.

It also becomes evident that his contempt and aggression towards authority, related to his military background, where repetitive authoritarian pressure aimed in ‘shaping’ an individual accordingly. Such experiences referred to internal splitting: on one hand compliance, repression, denial, unconditional acceptance of system and peers – on the other acting out and fighting, killing the enemy and surviving of the strongest.  There seemed to be a certain process of depersonalisation here linked with splitting attitudes towards one’s feelings, sense of self and others. The military required putting aside personal needs and a sense of self for the sake of a superior ideal. When McMurphy was back in his country after the war, he would have seen different authorities, however, who was the enemy?  Who was he fighting for and against? Confusion would have increased, finding himself as part of a medical-policing system claiming to be his cure and punishment at the same time.  At least in the army he had an outlet, oppression and control over himself would be combined by fighting and acting out.

However, it appeared limiting to relate his intense anger and expressed aggression only to his archaic relations which contributed to his transference reactions.  Throughout the story it came to light that there was something genuine and appropriate in his explosions, his profound need to be and remain himself against the obliterating Big Nurse.  He needed to defend his sense of freedom and difference therefore, for him, his fighting back and acting out carried also a profound existential meaning which related to the ‘here and now’ of his experience. These reality-based aggressive feelings would not be as intense given the different reactions by the one in power. But nurse Ratced was the authority and the enemy trying to control him; his fears came to life and they were both faced with their nightmares in flesh and bone. To make things even more intense, McMurphy was also charged with the anger and aggression felt by the other patients.  He identified with their projections and found his role and image meaningful: the representative and liberator of his passive inmates.

to be cont…