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Inside the Oregon State Hospital


The Oregon State Hospital has faced a lot of criticism in the past. The indelible character of Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has been a difficult legacy to shake. But the treatment methods portrayed in that movie are now nearly 50 years old. The hospital has been through other controversies since then, which we’ve covered, but they’ve also made efforts to address their critics. (You’ll find our other shows here and here, and a slide show here). Most recently, the Oregon State Legislature passed two bills to reform the hospital’s admission and release policies.

Now we have another portrait of the hospital. Jan Haaken, a professor of psychology at Portland State University, followed five patients at the hospital for her new documentary Guilty Except for Insanity. She says that when she went in she was expecting something similar to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but was surprised by how well-functioning the institution was. Instead, she traces the problems for patients to far deeper social causes: a lack of social safety net and entrenched prejudices against the mentally ill.

Guilty Except for Insanity screens Monday and Tuesday nights at Cinema 21 in Portland.

What do you want to know about the lives of the inmates patients and staff at the Oregon State Hospital?

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