Group Mentality vs. Individualism
Perhaps Nurse Ratched's most sinister tool is preying on the group mentality of the inmates to instill fear and self-loathing. She makes it very clear that the inmates are not allowed to be on their own; they must form groups of eight in order to request access to even the most mundane activity. There is method to this seeming draconian order. The Nurse knows that as long as the men can reflect, mirror, and expose each other's pain, they will have enough to occupy themselves with rather than rebelling against her. Only in the solitude of one’s own room can one of them look inside and develop the strength of will and character to begin questioning her authority. Such questioning of the hospital, its leadership, the role of the hospital in their convalescence, or broadly questioning authority or society is a mark of individualism that Nurse Ratched will not allow. In a group of disturbed people, the group identity is going nowhere, and that is the way she wants it. She controls the inmates by controlling the questions asked, and as long as she prevents them from being alone for very long, she knows that she will have the upper hand.