Falling into Theory - One Flew Over the CuckOo's Nest (Question #2)
Nurse Pilbo: Take your medicine, Mr. McMurphy
McMurphy: What's in the horse pill?
Nurse Pilbo: It's good for you. Don't get angry, Mr. McMurphy
McMurphy: I'm not getting angry, Nurse Pilbo. I just don't like taking anything when I don't know what it is. I don't want anyone slippin' me saltpeter, if you know what I mean.
Nurse Ratched: That's okay, Nurse Pilbo. If Mr. McMurphy does not want to take his medicine, we will just have to arrange for him to have it some other way, although I don't think he'd like it very much.
In the movie, although most of the patients are not "chronics" (committed forcibly), nobody ever leaves to establish their autonomy. Nurse Ratched, under the guise of a counselor interested in helping them to overcome their problems and establish independence, actually uses implicit and explicit measures to oppress them and keep them captive in a de facto dictatorship.
One of the ways to keep the patients docile and puerile is exemplified in the foregoing dialogue. The ingestion of pills indicates an oral fixation and an inability to progress to the proper phallic stage. Even if the pills are not the catalyst of the arrested development, and their neuroses are the result of arrested development that preceded their admission to the hospital, the pills preclude any possibility of ameliorating their problems. McMurphy, who is the quintessential representation of democracy and rugged individualism, has no such problems. However, in an attempt to control him, Ratched threatens to forcibly insert the pill into his body rectally. Such an action, if completed, would symbolize a regress to the anal stage, successfully removing him from the world writ large and the Law of...