Biography of Ken Kesey and his studies towards "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

Essay by nikkay5vHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2003

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Ken Kesey (1935-2001)

With a book as fascinating as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, one can not help but wonder about the man behind the story. Ken Kesey, born the youngest of two sons on September 17, 1935, in La Junta, Colorado, was no less interesting as the stories he told.

During his childhood years he moved to Springfield, Oregon, where he grew up living a farmer's life. After high school, Kesey married his high school sweetheart, Faye Haxby whom he had three children with. He went on to graduate from the University of Oregon with a major in Speech and Communications, but that is not where his education ended. Afterwards, he was enrolled in the Creative Writing program at Stanford, where his classic novel would soon be started.

Stanford was a dramatic turning point in Kesey's life. In order to make money, Ken experimented with several drugs to participate in studies for the Psychology department.

Among these drugs were LSD, mescaline, and acid. Kesey even became famous on campus for throwing parties where these drugs were included.

Needless to say, the influence of these drugs caused him to have several hallucinations. Some of which inspired aspects of his writing project at Stanford, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. In fact, the majority of the novel was written while Kesey was under the influence of green Kool-Aid laced with LSD, which later became known as "The Electric Kool-Aid Test". The most prominent example of hallucination is when he worked as an orderly at the psychiatric ward of a local Virginia hospital. The objective for his job was to get some perspective for the novel he would soon be writing.. During his career at the ward, Kesey reported to have several hallucinations of an Indian sweeping the...