Medical Model And Learned Helplessness Term Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Psychology Type: Term Paper Paper: #78154146 Related Topics: Medical School, Schindlers List, Medical, Medical Technology
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Lobotomy is a popular medical procedure introduced in curing mentally ill individuals, which requires the removal of the prefrontal lobes of the cortex of the brain, the part of the brain wherein aggressive and violent behavior is triggered. However, in the movie, lobotomy is shown to have disastrous results: McMurphy's violent behavior is indeed abated, but as illustrated in the movie, the lobotomy had turned him into a 'vegetable' neither responding to his ward mates' call for attention nor displaying his usual rowdy, obnoxious, McMurphy self.

This instance in the movie is considered as patterned after the medical model of abnormal psychology, wherein "mental disorders are described as medical diseases with a biological origin" (450). Because this is the prevalent thinking in medical science during the time the movie (and novel) was made, Nurse Ratched decided, in order to "treat" McMurphy, to let him undergo lobotomy. Subsistence to the medical model as illustrated in the movie showed how, in the midst of new technologies and advances in medical science, it becomes evident that not of all these advances result to a better life for human society.

Similarly, the theory of learned helplessness is also demonstrated through McMurphy's ward mates, individuals who are not really mentally unstable, but asked and "volunteered" to be admitted in the mental institution because they felt that they cannot help themselves deal with their problems in life. This phenomenon is termed in abnormal...


As shown in the characters in the movie, their perceived inability to deal with their problems led to depression and continued dependence for the institutions help and Nurse Ratched's pills and counseling.

The characters of Dale, Charlie, Martini, and Taber show how learned helplessness is perpetuated within the culture of the mental institution. Dale, for example, sought the help of the institution when he could not deal with the hurt, embarrassment and depression that he felt when his wife committed adultery. His helplessness prior to his admittance to the institution further worsened when he was admitted. He lost perspective of his problem, was not able to move on to establish a new life without his wife, and instead further attached himself with his problem and found no solution to it at all, and eventually became dependent on the institution and the "comforts" it gave to him. His character shows how, through the culture of mental institution and lack of new perspectives in understanding an individual's problems, led to the cultivation and perpetuation of learned helplessness.

In effect, the movie "One flew over the cuckoo's nest" depicts how abnormal behavior was dealt with during the late 20th century, where the influence of arriving at scientific solutions prevailed over ensuring the welfare of human society. Through the characters of McMurphy and his ward mates, audiences witness the prevalence of the medical model and phenomenon of learned helplessness as the institution's way of dealing with individual who have abnormal behavior.


Santorck, J. (2001). Psychology.…

Sources Used in Documents:


Santorck, J. (2001). Psychology. NY: McGraw-Hill Book Co.

Cite this Document:

"Medical Model And Learned Helplessness" (2004, November 22) Retrieved June 30, 2022, from

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"Medical Model And Learned Helplessness", 22 November 2004, Accessed.30 June. 2022,

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