One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, cont..


And what about those sexual feelings behind the daily routines at that place? Sexualisation is the third of ’emotional transference’ I’m looking at here.

Expression of sexual messages played a crucial role in the developing relationships.  Clear sexual desires towards the Big Nurse were not manifested throughout the story. Nevertheless, a hypothesis could be formed regarding some of the in-patients whose idealisation of nurse Ratched seemed to link to sexual wishes for significant others. From an analytical point of view, these wishes originate from a man’s oedipal desire to unite with mother (Freud, 1910). The Big Nurse did not become the direct sexual object of the patients’ desires, a situation which could be seen as a sexualised transference response. However, most patients displayed a vivid curiosity for sexualised secrets of her womanhood, especially her breasts.  Her concealed sexuality was mysterious, dark and interesting; the final violent exposure of her large breasts appeared symbolic. Perverse sexual fantasies would not be surprising in both sides, given her strong dominating stance with sadistic attitudes towards her submissive patients, intertwined with intense fears and repression of sexual wishes.

Moreover, sexual feelings, attitudes and behaviours seemed to be also in tune with the reality of the hospital ward, compared to aggressive and idealising reactions that appeared more fantasy-oriented and therefore transferred. McMurphy represented a mixture of actual and wished-for sexual experiences and meanings. Feeling sexual and flirtatious carried great weight for him, contributing to his aliveness and passion for life. His sexual attitude became increasingly important and a symbol for his inner freedom and sense of self against the domineering nurse Ratched. It was his main means to fight back and hurt her, sensing her intense unease and fear of erotic and sexual feelings. And he provoked by being natural and sexual, showing of his muscular body, being sexually graphic and vulgar. An intense need for sexual liberation in the ward was shown by McMurphy’s catalytic influence upon his inmates. The Big Nurse could not bear the prospect of a ‘sexual chaos’ in the hospital ward, that threat triggered her most vicious attacks with tragic implications.

In many ways his sexual self was the antithesis of the Big Nurse’s: sexual tyranny against sexual anarchy with paradoxically similar dark and powerful elements. Paranoid-schizoid tendencies (Melanie Klein, 1932) appeared intense leaving no ground for acceptance of various sexual feelings, no space for mutual recognition. Hence, the two extremes become each other’s nemesis. His phallic attitude intended to penetrate her anal personality; her overbearing breasts wanted to suffocate his playful self.