Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
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The image above depicts an incident that takes place shortly after Cheswick’s suicide. An epileptic patient, Sefelt, has a seizure while in line for lunch. As the orderlies assist him, Nurse Ratched stands close by with her arms crossed. Chief Bromden describes, “Her face is smiling, pitying, patient, and disgusted all at once – a trained expression”.
When McMurphy asks what’s wrong, Nurse Ratched begins to tell him that this is what happens if patients don’t follow medical advice. Fully implying that McMurphy’s behavior has negatively influenced the patients on the ward.
With McMurphy in line is Fredrickson, another epileptic patient. Sefelt has been giving Fredrickson his medication. He is tired of the side effects of the Dilantin and will risk an attack. Fredrickson is just the opposite.
As the attack subsides, the taped stick used to prevent Sefelt from grinding his teeth is pulled out of his mouth and a couple of his teeth go with it. McMurphy is perplexed by why someone would give up their medication and risk an attack like this. Then Fredrickson shows McMurphy his rotting gums ( a side-effect of the medicine ) and says, “Hell of a life. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”