Week Five - rosenhan.docx

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22 Apr 2012
Week Five: February 7th, 2012
On Being Sane in Insane places
D. L. Rosenhan
Finally, as early as 1934, Benedict suggested that normality and abnormality are not
universal. What is viewed as normal in one culture may be seen as quite aberrant in
Anxiety and depression exists. Psychological suffering exists. But normality and
abnormality, sanity and insanity, and the diagnoses that flow from them may be less
substantive than many believe them to be
Psychiatric diagnoses, in this view, are in the minds of the observers and are not valid
summaries of characteristics displayed by the observer (psychological diagnosis is
somewhat mislead)
Normality is distinct enough that it can be recognized wherever it occurs, for it is carried
within the person
That psychiatric diagnosis betrays little about he patients but much about the environment
in which an observers finds him
Eight sane people gained secret admission to 12 different hospitals. Their diagnostic
experiences constitute the data of the first part of this article; the remainder is devoted to
a description of their experiences in psychiatric institutions
Pseudopatients and Their Setting
Three pseudopatients were women, five were men
The nature of the research program was known to the hospital staffs
Such symptoms are alleged to arise from painful concerns about the perceived
meaninglessness of ones life
If anything, they strongly biased the subsequent results in favour of detecting sanity,
since none of their histories or current behaviours were seriously pathological in any way
They wrote all their notes in secrecy however they thought it was their craziness therefore
they started writing in public in front of the staff, no one asked what they were writing
The Normal Are not detectably
Despite their public show of sanity, the pseudopatients were never detected
The label in remission should in no way be dismissed as a formality, for at no time during
any hospitalization had any questions been raised about any pseudopatients stimulation
If the pseudopatients was to be discharged, he must naturally be in remission; but he was
not sane, nor, in the institutions view, had he ever been sane
During the first three hospitalizations, when accurate counts were kept, 35 of a total of
118 patients on the admissions ward voiced their suspicions, some vigorously
Actually, no genuine pseudopatient presented himself during this period
The Strickiness of Psychodiagnostic Labels
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