Psychological Disorders (Cont.)
The highest rate of mental disorders is in the USA. 9.5% of Americans reported a mood disorder in past
year; 1.0% of Americans reported obsessive compulsive disorder in past year. 26.2% of Americans
reported some mental disorder in the past year.
Psychological Disorder Percentage of Americans reporting in last year
Generalized anxiety 3.1
Social anxiety disorder 6.8
Phobia of specific object or situation 8.7
Mood disorder 9.5
Obsessive-compulsive disorder 1.0
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 3.5
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder 4.1
Any mental disorder 26.2
Problems with diagnosing (cont.)
Diagnosing can sometimes colour one’s perception. That is, knowing somebody was diagnosed with a
disorder can bias someone towards perceiving that individual a certain way (recall expectations can play
a role in our attitudes and behaviours).
Rosenhan (1973) “Being Sane in Insane Places”.
Questions: Can the sane be distinguished from the insane. Are diagnoses really based on an
individual’s traits, or does it have to do more with the environmental context at the time?
Hypothesis: When someone who is not “abnormal” is admitted to a psychiatric institution
context, their “sanity”, that is their mental health, will be missed.
Method: Eight pseudopatients (e.g., grad student, 3 psychologists, psychiatrist, house painter,
etc…) reported “I am hearing three words in my head: empty, hollow and thud. Aside from changing
their names and reporting hearing voices, they told the truth about significant events in their lives. They
followed all instructions given by psychiatric hospital, except for swallowing their medications.”
Results: All diagnosed with Schizophrenia, except one was diagnosed bipolar disorder.
Hospitalized from 7 to 52 days. Other patients figured they must have been journalists, but staff did not
guess the identity of the pseudopatients.
Pseudopatients took copious notes, recording for example: How many psychiatrists come into
the ward, how many times do staff visit patients? However, their note-taking was seen as a
manifestation of their mental disorders.
Conclusion: Rosenhan: “Clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric
hospitals. The hospital themselves impose a certain environment where the meanings of the behaviour
can be easily misunderstood.”
The system that does the labeling leads to diagnosis more than the individual’s characteristics. Comments: Perhaps it is better to keep some people in the psychiatric facility with a small chance they
are not supposed to be there, then a small chance of having people who are mentally ill not
institutionalised. For example, there was a person who needed mental health care who fell through the
cracks who ended up attacking an individual in society.
Rosenhan Part 2: In the next 3 months there will be one or more pseudopatients trying to get into ward.
41 alleged with high degree of confidence to be a pseudopatient but at least one personnel; 23 suspect
by at least one personnel, 19 suspected by at least one psychiatrist and another staff member.
In reality, no pseudopatients were admitted and all