Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Although it was written by a man, Ken Kesey, who can only be described as a paradigmatic hippy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)—particularly its film adaptation by Miloš Forman in 1975, with Jack Nicholson in the lead role that made his name—perfectly describes the contemporary Western state as seen from the right. So far as I can tell, this was in no way intentional on Kesey’s part, except for the fact that the psychedelic experience tends towards the spiritual; Kesey led a school bus filled with his “Merry Pranksters”—jokers and tricksters all—about the country, determined to lace punchbowls with LSD. Radical change in consciousness, a reconnection with the spiritual, can lead men to do the most insane things, such as vote for Nixon. Further, Forman was an exile from Communist Czechoslovakia, although his relatives had been in Auschwitz this is slightly incidental to the point here; the National Socialists exterminated their enemies, but it was the Communists who told people they were mad—and it was the Communists who were Forman’s foes; so to see One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as a commentary on more left-wing states is quite legitimate.
The contemporary Western state is feminine and therapeutic; it really cares about you—or it wants you to think that way, anyway. It is very concerned about “abusive” comments left by anon users online, and it really wants to talk and “work through its issues”; immediate punishment, the hangman or the birch, has been done away with. Disruptive pupils are better off with medication for ADHD, a session with a counsellor, or, at home, a non-physical “time-out” on the naughty step. So far as we are concerned there are no “evil” people, there are only people who have “issues” and need “support” and “care” to work through these problems; better out than in, as Prince Harry has been so anxious to reassure us all in recent years. We have done away with all that repressed and harsh masculine discipline and self-restraint; the state is here to help now, just relax and enjoy the soothing music on the ward—try not to upset yourself…
So the scene in the West is pretty much the same as Nurse Ratched’s psychiatric ward; the white male population is supervised and medicated by a maternal figure who, though she exercises absolute power, does so in a soft and therapeutic manner—entirely for your own good, you understand. As with the Western state, her role is facilitated by ethnic minorities—Ratched’s muscle is provided by black hospital porters in the film; a situation analogous to the way the Western state uses ethnic minorities as a bludgeon, both moral and physical, to achieve compliance from the majority population. The only hospital staff member who is covertly sympathetic to the patients—aside from a corrupt porter—is an Armenian psychiatric nurse, deputy to Ratched, a situation analogous to the way a stray Jew, Asian, or Latino will occasionally take the white male side and become a conservative mascot; perhaps it also reflects the way more masculine Western men—notably libertarians and autists, with their Asian wives—seek women outside the West who are as yet relatively untouched by feminism.
Aside from drugs and passive-aggressive group therapy sessions where nothing of actual consequence is discussed, Ratched manipulates procedural outcomes to achieve the results she desires. When the pathological malingerer McMurphy (Nicholson) pitches up in the ward, he immediately tries to put some masculine life into the feminine deadness around him—clandestine gambling, hijinks with a bathtub, and a wild break out to secure whores and a fishing trip ensue.
One scheme hatched by McMurphy is to change ward policy so that the patients can watch the baseball World Series on the communal television; a vote is taken and McMurphy—after some cajoling—wins a majority in the group therapy session. Ratched then icily points out that he does not have a majority; he needs the votes from the other patients on the ward, most of whom are in medically-induced comas—probably at her behest. Ratched is technically, in line with ward policy, being scrupulously fair; functionally, she has manipulated the procedural outcome. Her actions are no different to the way Britain had a referendum on EU membership which was then contested and sabotaged in every respect by the people who really run the country—the vast bureaucratic maw that stands behind Parliament and the corporations—and, indeed, just like Ratched, the cry was that the electorate was “off their meds”, “mad”, “ignoring the rule of law” (ward policy), and basically misled by “insane” deviant individuals, such as Nigel Farage (McMurphy).
We will leave aside for a moment the question as to whether genuinely deviant individuals, such as McMurphy, can really save people, but let us say that in Cuckoo’s fictional world he does so; and he does so because he injects a masculine outlook into a feminised environment—an environment that is in stasis, enchantment, and, ultimately, decay. The psychiatric ward in Cuckoo is socialist; its ethos is the same as in the Soviet Union: we pretend to work, they pretend to pay us; they pretend to cure us, we pretend to get better. For example, McMurphy twigs that the youngest man on the ward would be immeasurably helped if he just lost his virginity; and he arranges for this to happen with a whore smuggled onto the ward; and this is much to Nurse Ratched’s disdain, the young man must go back to being ashamed of himself—he slinks away from her like a naughty puppy. There are shades of the contemporary inceldom phenomenon here—unsocialised young men, perhaps naïve and fatherless, who are browbeaten by state propaganda and the education system into unhealthy decisions.
This sounds a little implausible, but I recently saw a propaganda vid from the Scottish government that cautions men against “sliding into a woman’s DMs” lest she feel threatened. I was amazed that the actor they hired for this skit could deliver his lines with a straight face; and he probably laughed about it afterwards (and felt a bit dirty). That might seem silly, but four years ago I met a young American man fresh from college in London who would not tell me where he was from when I asked him in a friendly way. “I don’t think that’s something I can say,” he said, eyes half filled with disdain and half with shame. It took me awhile to realise that he had been indoctrinated in college that such questions are “racist”—unfortunately, people who do not know where they are from have no idea where they are going.
So, I must admit, people can be browbeaten into virginity by Nurse Ratched—by the state and the education system—just as they can be browbeaten into never finding out where people come from or where they are going. By the way, people ask where you are from because they might then say, “Oh, my aunt lives just outside that town,” or, “I always wanted to visit there,” and so form a connection; the state dislikes that and so has to make out that the question should always be interpreted, as it sometimes is, as veiled hostility to an outsider.
It is all the same principle: Ratched keeps her young patient as a permanent adolescent—always trying to get better, always making dilatory “progress” on the psychiatric report—whereas McMurphy applied the direct “evil” cure through the whore. Naturally, McMurphy must be punished; he injected too much reality and too much fun into what was a dead atmosphere. In a similar line, the patients on the ward receive cigarette rations at Nurse Ratched’s discretion; once, again socialism at work—the ration, the dole. McMurphy encourages the browbeaten men on the ward to demand their entitlement and not suffer Nurse Ratched’s sour teat. The men play cards, but without any stakes—not for money or cigarettes—and it is McMurphy who encourages them to abandon this feminised risk aversion and start to put real currency into their games; in other words, to play an authentic game. At the film’s conclusion, McMurphy throws a genuine Christmas party, with booze and music and girls; the spirit is almost Dickensian, with Ratched as the medical Scrooge—although she will be never be won over to good will.
As already mentioned, Forman—the director on the film adaptation—had come from Czechoslovakia, pretty much after the Prague Spring; and so he was more aware than most that the Soviets used psychiatry to discipline dissidents. Madness is a political issue. I have noted elsewhere that when it comes to sanity conservatives tend to hold “this woke nonsense is madness, the world has gone mad I tell you—sometimes I worry I’m mad”, whereas the radical right identifies with the actual madman, the Lovecraftian character, dragged by their ankles to the asylum: “I tell you…I tell you…they’re not men in Dulwich anymore…if you look under their breeches they’re fish…I’ve seen the water dripping…dripping…ye gads, the tentacles…”
The radical right identifies with the schizoid (“I see the J*ws have engaged their mind control program again, I can tell because if you look at the shapes on this cornflakes box...”) and the misunderstood, supposedly “evil”, genius (“Look, all I’m saying is if we sterilise 85% of the population we’ll be an inter-stellar civilisation in half a century.”) The position is mystical; to know God’s mind is to go insane, so far as the herd is concerned; but it is the herd that is truly mad—Nietzsche knew. “I’m not mad, you’re mad!” “Of course, that’s what all the mad people say.”
The left, by contrast, never worries that it might be mad; the right is “mad” or flirts with madness—the “mad dog” Cold War general who might nuke the Soviets on his own initiative because God told him to do it—but the left is completely unconcerned with the notion, as with the serene and self-satisfied Nurse Ratched, that it might be insane; it is this very self-confidence that indicates that it is mad. As with Nurse Ratched, the left is expert at manipulation to the point where the opposite side explodes in rage; it can then be beaten down with supposed sanity. Hence we live in a situation where the Western world has almost completely abolished biological sex as a concept for official purposes; but Trump supporters, somewhat annoyed—as with McMurphy and his rigged World Series vote—that their election has been stolen are portrayed as “insane snake-wrangling Christian fundamentalists” and so on.
As noted elsewhere, the left is interested in consciousness constriction—which it calls “consciousness raising”—whereas the right desires consciousness expansion; really, the religious experience—the pure mystical experience—represents consciousness expansion, it is to perceive more and to do so without regulation from nagging women, priests, or the state (psychiatric nurses). The left is interested in what it calls “mental illness”—not madness, a denigrating term—but its interest only extends so far as the mentally ill can be used as a counter in a victimhood game, especially since the old class politics became exhausted in the 1960s. So the mentally ill must be “cared for” by state-sponsored NGOs and state mental health services that are very much in the Ratched line; places where people can pretend to get better—after all, everything the state does is ineffective.
The same can be said for “mental health” in general; indeed, although you will often see leftists parade their “mental health issues” as a badge, it is an unfortunate truth that the people who do so—the activists for mental health—are rarely actually ill, not in the heavy-duty sense. The right is delighted to see that the left reports higher incidences of mental health problems, but this is only because they think it is high status to do so (being a marginal victim is high status in Western societies, films like Cuckoo contribute to this); they suffer from a neurotic response to reality, anxiety or depression or OCD or anorexia (the vogue changes); meanwhile, hardcore mental collapse—schizophrenia and psychosis—is almost always rightist.
The division is, as usual, between the masculine and feminine: women have “mental health issues”—sometimes no more than social contagion, as when, in my day, anorexia and lesbianism would go round the local girls-only high schools in waves—whereas men “go insane”. It is also the difference between psychology (female) and psychiatry (male)—a difference reflected in which sex enters those respective professions. The psychiatrist deals with “the hard stuff”, basically incurable or chronic derangement; and he often does it with drugs, being licensed to do so. The psychologist deals with vague existential unease or anxiety, the role being closer to a priest or confidant in a post-religious age.
The left does not care about the real schizophrenics or the terminally depressed; it cares about superficial narcissistic “illnesses” that can be used to seek attention. Hence the “mental health” of transsexuals is an emergency; but the left’s solution is to treat them in such a way that will facilitate their illness, feed the delusion. Similarly, the left wanted to “help” the mad out of the asylums in the 1980s and onto the cold streets. This is not to praise asylums, but this non-solution is typical leftist thought: here is a problem, the solution to the problem is to pretend it does not exist and say society needs to adjust to a minority’s peccadillos—of course, it is the minority that actually suffers most from this proposed solution; all the left can do is coerce people into saying there is no problem.
The radical right says, “Yes, you’re insane. Yes, you can see strange things. Reality is insanity—and most people will never understand, your position is torture in a way.” The outlook is religious; as the Arabs say, “Be kind, he is with God.” Probably they are just being polite, but there is an idea—legitimate, I think—that the person in an altered state of consciousness can see things, not that he necessarily does, that other people cannot; and these are possibly profound and important things. I am pretty sure that, as we shall see, schizophrenics have uncanny insights into reality—although it can be difficult to unpack what these insights are exactly. The left is parasitic on an old notion as regards “the holy fool” or “the madman with God”; and yet, despite this parasitism, I think there is something to these ideas. So the radical right does not deny that the madman is a freak, even as it admires him—he is possibly dangerous, and they have a realistic sense that the “normies” will never adjust to him; in fact, they are more likely to be repulsed by him.
The left says, “You’re fine; society can easily adjust to you—it’s just the family and oppressive patriarchal structures that caused this. We need more acceptance. Er, no, we don’t want to know about how Obama put a metal cap in your head to control your thoughts. Obama was a great guy; greatest president this century. Er…no God is not an alien from Sirius…you like David Icke, he’s a total conspiracy theorist. You should listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson.” In truth, the left’s concern with “mental health”—“my mental health suffered during Trump’s presidency”—is often no more or less than feminine neurotic complaint, possible for men and women; they talk about it because they do not have it. Actual madness disturbs people—they physically move away from the mad—and the mad can also be very squalid and sad. As usual, the left has something, “mental illness”, that is not real and is misrepresented—whereas the right has something real that disturbs, “madness”.
The left has a very neat and tidy narrative—as with Nurse Ratched with her scheduled and unalterable muzak for the ward—and those who defy it need psychiatric attention: science constantly advances and progress is inevitable—God, along with race and biological sex, has been shown not to exist. Mild “mental illness” whereby people feel weak and helpless requires support and affirmation—poor little kittens who need to be protected. Yet people who refuse to agree with “rational” ideas as regards progress are obviously mad, all the experts agree; hence the left loves to use psycho-pathological language about its opponents—homophobes or Islamophobes; a phobia, an irrational fear. It fits with the way the left conceives itself: the leftist advance banishes primitive mystical ideas and obscurantism—everywhere the light of progress shines and reveals what was once thought to be truth was really superstition; and so nobody is evil, merely they have not benefited from education and therapy yet.
In line with the left’s aversion to punishment that suggests responsibility—the cane on the hand—all problems will be therapised away; people who disagree require re-education, some will be “re-educated” to death. This is all possible because, really, psychiatry and psychology are not very scientific; there is considerable disagreement as to what constitutes an illness in these fields, with transsexuality and homosexuality almost having completed a full revolution to become normal positions—perhaps even normative. This “progress”—along with the confusion among other illnesses—means that psychiatry (more generalised psychological ideas) is ripe for exploitation; especially since it carries with it considerable powers, not present in other medical fields, to indefinitely incarcerate people and forcibly treat them.
In some respects, the psychiatrist is the sine qua non for what the right fears: a state-sponsored expert who presents himself as a scientific authority on very tenuous grounds and tends to be completely atheistic and possibly—as with Freud—actively despises religion; further, this man enjoys very liberal powers to coerce people who he and his colleagues deem to be “insane” and to carry out treatments on their body and mind at will. All this despite the fact that almost every book you read about psychiatry or psychology prefaces itself with a statement to the effect that the brain is the most complicated object in the universe and we barely understand…—and this is compounded by the fact the profession swerves all over the place as to what is and is not an illness. Unchecked power, ignorance that masquerades as science, and the emotional side of human affairs; it all amounts to a combination for political chicanery and delusion—and that is exactly what we see in psychiatry and psychology.
These are quasi-priestly fields, concerned with what it is acceptable for people to perceive; for example, it is considered by Western psychiatry that it is culturally appropriate for a recent Muslim immigrant to think that she has been possessed by a jinn; if a Westerner thinks he has been possessed by a demonic spirit then that is a mental illness, grounds to be sectioned (involuntarily confined), as the British say—i.e. to have a genuine spiritual experience in the West as a Westerner is de facto criminal, even though people have experienced such events for centuries; for psychiatry, Christianity—Western paganism as well—are not within reality; and that is a fact, agreed by experts. Mr. Solzhenitsyn, please remove your cross in this hospital; it could be offensive.
A great many more Westerners would probably describe their experiences on psychedelics as being with angels or demons—as opposed to alien and robots—if to do so was not grounds to be sectioned; as with most rules in the West, everything as been reversed to favour the outsider and disprivilege the native—the Muslim is permitted his visions, the white man is not. The point is not whether or not people really do see Jesus or Mithras in a vision, however that vision is induced; the point is that the Western system is designed in such a way as to despiritualise people and constrict consciousness—it does not allow people their experiences, however those experiences are expressed.
The fact that we speak here about pathology and psychiatry is the thin end of the wedge; it is the fact these experiences are deemed psycho-pathological that allows Western media commentators to dub Trump supporters “looney religious types”, even when huge sections of American society are highly religious and religion has been an entirely normal aspect to human experience since mankind’s dawn. Yet if you really get down to it, religion is officially classified in Western medical textbooks as insanity—and Christianity particularly so.
To use sexuality as a further example: the current orthodoxy holds that the method by which sexual attraction works is obscure (to discuss the power dynamic is misogyny or “psycho”); however, when it comes to any affection between men and women then that can be explained as “just a chemical reaction”; so that the orthodoxy holds that couples form by an unknown process, but the way in which they sustain a relationship is a well-established meaningless and trivial material process. As you can see from the architecture of the lie, the construction is designed so as to drain any meaning from relations between the sexes—to dull perception, and lower consciousness. The same structure is applied to many areas, with the basic intention being to keep experience turned down to a very low level—as in Nurse Ratched’s psychiatric ward.
The narrative about progress and reason must quash experience every time; even though it is well-recorded that countless people who contributed to actual scientific advance or intellectual brilliance—for example, John Nash and Bobby Fischer—were outright mad, whereas others were severely eccentric to say the least; and that is before we consider the arts, where radical experiments with perception are even more pronounced. The left has to discipline perception because perception sees things that do not conform to the narrative and so causes narrative collapse; and it is precisely narrative collapse that gives rise to genuine progress, just as genuine art sees.
We never consider Stalin mad, but Hitler is definitely mad; Stalin had a comforting narrative about inevitable progress for all people—it comforted, as with Nurse Ratched’s pills, and yet was completely untrue. Hitler’s assertion was much more real: life is a brutal competition to the death—partly between the races. This is way more real that what Stalin said, whatever the particular bits Hitler was wrong about; yet reality, when confronted starkly, feels like insanity—things happen in life that are unacceptable in fiction, too unlikely and uncanny. Hitler put the ultimate reality—death—right before people, and this was way too much for many; reality is insanity. Put another way: for whatever reason, possibly evolution, mankind is just not equipped for reality; we are equipped for stories, and these stories easily slide into delusion—per Nietzsche, this is why a few must step over man; the alternative is to be stuck in an endless cycle where men like Stalin or Pol Pot crop up, with an inevitable Hitler to meet them.
The two men who thought about madness while being on the left were Michel Foucault and R.D. Laing; and they both, in my view, ended up on the right. Foucault pointed out, quite correctly, that psychiatry is political; it is about power—as outlined above, literally whether it is legitimate to say that the Virgin Mary appeared to you in a vision and to be allowed to remain at large; it does not come much more political than that. As noted, even the profession itself admits, practically the first thing they say, that the mind is not well-understood. To pretend this field is scientific at a time when a good chunk from the profession’s leading cadre, represented by the Tavistock Clinic in London, hold that biological sex does not exist can only be regarded as misguided, if not retarded; it is a power system, and it does come from the Enlightenment—from the Enlightenment’s commitment to the egalitarianism and rationalism that would banish religious ideas forever; including “irrational” notions, such as fundamental differences between men and women or between races.
To be sure, Foucault mistakenly had at experimental science; but his general contention that there is a disciplinary aspect to psychiatry is true; it was, along with other social measures, intended to supplant the “barbaric” social controls found in the ancien régime—punishments that very often worked quite nicely, thank you. We have fired a rocket into space, as the Soviets used to say, and so your God is not real—only a madman goes to church, the psychiatrists agree; it is madness not to follow the science, perhaps you should consider treatment...To his credit—although he was involved in many dubious causes—Foucault drew attention to the way the Soviets misused psychiatry in the 1970s to control dissidents, and did so at a time when the French Communists were a powerful force in the universities; and he undertook this courageous stand—it could only have damaged his career—because he understood that psychiatry is in a very large part about control, often explicitly political, over other people’s experiences; even though as men, even if we are deranged, our own experiences constitute our world and the primary way we comprehend it.
For his part, R.D. Laing took an intense interest in schizophrenia; in particular, he is notable for the idea that schizophrenia might come about through certain family relations that involve “double binds”—a concept inherited from cybernetics—that are resolved through a schizophrenic reaction; consequently, the schizophrenic who feels that the people about him, usually his family, are involved in persecution against him—a classic silent conspiracy—is correct; they are locked in a maladaptive communication strategy, and this accounts for their odd language use.
Initially on the left, Laing criticised the family as possibly schizogenic and also argued that schizophrenics and other profoundly sick people should be allowed to live out “in the community”—essentially presaging the movement against asylums. The basic idea was that the schizophrenic experience was as a valid as any other and that it had been mistakenly medicalised—as noted above, this is the general leftist contention.
Later, Laing took a more spiritual turn and went to Sri Lanka, where he engaged in intensive meditation and other practices. He continued to maintain that it was possible to establish a rapport and communication with schizophrenics, if the right approach was taken—and he was a skilled enough therapist to do so, although, of course, not all therapists are so skilled; and this was the limitation with his views, he mistook his particular gift to establish communication with schizophrenics for a skill everybody in society must have; and this was why he thought it was a mistake to medicalise schizophrenia. In reality, Laing was a rare person with the intelligence and sensitivity—and, as a professional, the allotted time—to achieve what was impossible in ordinary life.
However, Laing was onto to something, schizophrenics do have valuable insights and the reason is connected to his Buddhist turn. Buddhist enlightenment is synonymous with the schizoid state; the enlightened Buddhist identifies with the monad—as represented by the dot on the Buddha’s head—and the monad is the fundamental constitutive element for reality. In Kabbalah, the monad sits behind the Keter “the Crown” that mediates the unmanifest light, the monad is the unmanifest; one could imagine this light pouring through the dot between the Buddha’s eyes, a ray that creates and destroys in equal gentle measure.
The monad is pure potential; it can be anything, anywhere, and at anytime—the enlightened Buddhist identifies with the monad, annihilates his ego, and so has unlimited powers; “his” soul, composed from folds, as with flower petals, expands outwards—he is a nexus, he lets the outside in; “he” is inside and outside at the same time. Due to a biological malfunction, as yet undetermined, schizophrenics achieve semi-enlightenment; their ego is busted apart and reality rushes inside—they are involuntarily turned inside out by reality, and reality is insanity.
The Buddhist aims to become a mirror—a mirror that one day vanishes—whereas the schizophrenic is a broken mirror. Schizophrenic activities, such as poetic “clanging” or sing-song language use, also mesh with old ideas about how to achieve the Holy Grail; the Grail being as much a spiritual as a material object. It was said that one way to attain the Grail was through wordplay; the more wordplay, the more enlightened one would become—the Grail quest being a pre-Christian Indo-Aryan myth, so linked to Buddhism. When schizophrenics engage in their curious poetry and unusual wordplay they inadvertently mesh with the way reality folds and are granted insights associated with the Grail.
So when Laing went to the East to learn about meditation and Buddhism he was, in a way, setting out to become schizoid; enlightenment is consciously controlled schizophrenia, where a person knows what is happening and attains the state through controlled intent—Laing’s intuition that schizophrenics were valuable and misunderstood was correct, and this connection to enlightenment explains why the mad have often been seen as godly; for what the Buddhists call “enlightenment” is a state common to Christian saints and Muslim mystics alike.
It is a risky thing to get into sentimentality about Red Indians—to talk about their superior spirituality—and yet Cuckoo raises the issue because the power dynamic in the ward is McMurphy, the other white men, the Armenian nurse, and “the Chief” (a gigantic, apparently mute, Indian) versus the white women nurses and the black hospital porters. The Chief eventually become pivotal, not only for the help he offers to McMurphy in a fight with the porters but because, in the end, McMurphy loses and is lobotomised—and it is the Chief who delivers the mercy killing with a pillow, being the kinder option for a man who had so much spirit but has now been reduced to a soulless zombie completely at Nurse Ratched’s mercy. Finally, the Chief smashes a window in the ward—easy enough, given his size—and flees the hospital; he is the only patient to make an escape.
The shaman—as with the enlightened Buddha—also constitutes a man in a schizoid position; the Chief represents the slightly mystic view in which the Red Indians—being quasi-shamanic, in the broadest sense (when not addled by booze or casinos)—are held by Americans; so it is both appropriate the Chief should be imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital, and appropriate that he should be the only man to escape.
A final note as regards Cuckoo, it turns out that almost all the men on the psychiatric ward are voluntarily committed; it is only McMurphy, the Chief, and one other patient who have no choice but to be there. The irony is in line with what we have already seen, the only sane man on the ward is the one who absolutely cannot leave—everyone has been enchanted by the ward, a place where they can hide from life. The prison is open, they can step out anytime they want—except that Ratched’s stern embrace has crippled them. And this is more like the contemporary West today than you would think, for although the current system inclines towards tyranny and communism it has yet to shoot thousands of people and leave them in shallow ditches.
People grumble about how liberty has been abridged but, as in Cuckoo, they could walk out anytime they wanted; they could go along Trump’s route—even he was not shot; he just suffered a particularly stern chastisement from Nurse Ratched; and I suppose they may well lobotomise him yet. So far as liberty goes, it is mostly the case that—as with those men on the ward—people are happy where they are, or have convinced themselves this is so; and this is their real prison—and madness.