Meet Dr. Dean Brooks

Dr. Dean Brooks was the superintendent of Oregon State Hospital in 1975 during the production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” He starred as the head of the psychiatric hospital in the film, “Dr. John Spivey.” Dean was a pioneer and advocate for recognizing the humanity of the patients he served, and examined his own institution’s efforts to assure respect due persons struggling through mental health challenges. Mad in America recently sat down with Dean to discuss a few of his most notable stories, including how “Cuckoo’s Nest” came to be filmed at the state hospital, and a ‘Mountaineering’ excursion he took with a group of patients that was featured in Life magazine.

Mad in America will be returning to Oregon for a comprehensive interview with Dean about his life’s work, as part of an on-going series of interviews with individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of mental healthcare.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. I find it very interesting that in the hospital that he was responsible for that “patients” were members of the hospital’s task force, as well as people from the community. Why is this such a radical idea today and it wasn’t radical back then? I’ve proposed that patients from the units be elected by the units to serve on important committees in the hospital. My proposal is met with silence every time.

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