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Book Review of 'One Flew Under the Cuckoo's Nest'
By Ami Amara
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
Dr Daniel Araoz, Professor Long Island University
ONE FLEW UNDER THE CUCKOO’S NEST
If you ever wondered about mental illness; if you thought you’d like to know how a mental health patient feels being ill, let Ami Amara open the doors to their life. This is not a fun book. This is not a sex book. This is a book that makes us think while we get into the fascinating account of one of the least understood (yes, even in the 21st century) types of human suffering.
The book grips you because a weak little voice inside of you keeps repeating that you too, if circumstances were different, could be going through all of this. The story is fictional but very close to the reality of a mental hospital. The characters are in an institution, hospitalized, but they reflect the many psychotics or schizophrenics in our midst. Being out of touch with reality appears with many manifestations or symptoms. Psychotics often become criminals, make other people’s lives miserable or even run countries –Nero, Hitler, Blair, Bush— and from that position make decisions of life or death, determine who will barely survive and who will live in affluence, control our destiny. But this book does not detour in that direction. It stays close to the soul, holding us near the distorted thinking, the painful feeling and the strange behavior of the victims/patients. We get close to their mysterious world where human life shrinks to the bare minimum and to the desperation and helplessness of those who care and love them. We share the agony of uncertainty regarding the powerful medications that seem to rob the person of his or her individuality and personality. Do these suffering people have to be dehumanized to become human again?
One flew under the cuckoo’s nest, unlike the book from which it takes its name, is not primarily entertainment. In the interaction between patients and among the psychiatric staff we are introduced to many fascinating topics or subtopics with social nuances and consequences. These range from psychotropic medication to attitudes towards the mentally ill; from funding for their medical care and the politics of mental illness to the patients’ re-integration in society; from their inner suffering and solitude to the effect the mentally ill individual has in the family constellation. Each one of these topics and many more, are handled delicately and expertly, holding our interest while educating and instructing us.
Each chapter starts with a cleverly selected quote related to its contents. Ami Amara shows her writer’s talent in the chosen references, as well as in her entire style. Her characters are sharply defined; the dialogues are alive and real; the plot develops smoothly, with an uninterrupted and modulated vivacity that keeps the reader alert, curious and interested till the sad and frustrating end.
Dr. Daniel Araoz, Ed.D., ABPP, ABPH, NCPSYA, author of “The symptom is not the whole story,”
(Other Press, 2006), Professor, Long Island University, NY, USA
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