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Mapping Chapters 19,21 - A+ Notes

6 pages37 viewsWinter 2011

Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCA02H3
Professor
Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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CHAPTER 19: ON BEING SANE IN INSANE PLACES David L. Rosenhan
Deviance: Recognized violation of social norms
Since there are a variety of social norms that dictate human behaviour, there are
numerous behaviours that can be considered deviant
Whether a person is labelled deviant or not depends on how others perceive, define,
and respond to that persons behaviour
In this article, Rosenhan explores social deviance of mental illness and the
consequences of labelling people sane or insane
Benedict (1934): sanity and insanity are not universal; what is considered abnormal
according to one culture may be viewed as normal in another culture; thus, notions
of normality and abnormality may not be as accurate as people believe they are
Sanity and insanity are therefore less substantive that people perceive them to me
The view has grown that psychological categorization of mental illness is useless,
harmful, misleading, and pejorative psychiatric diagnoses are in the minds of the
observers and are not valid summaries of characteristics displayed by the observed
If however, the distinction between the sane and insane is clear, then the context
should not matter e.g., if we put a normal person, with no history of abnormality,
in a psychiatric hospital, we should be able to distinguish them as sane right away
This article describes such an experiment: eight sane people gained secret access to
twelve different psychiatric hospitals
Eight pseudopatients: a psychology graduate in his 20s; three psychologists, a
paediatrician, a psychiatrist, a painter and a house wife (three women, five men)
The hospital staffs were not aware of the pseudopatients
The pseudopatients described their symptoms as hearing voices that said empty,
hollow, and thud other than these symptoms, falsifying name, vocation, and
employment, no further alterations of person, history, or circumstance were made
the pseudopatients explained their life histories exactly as they had occurred
Upon entering the psychiatric wards, the patients acted completely normally
Upon being discharged, except for one pseudopatient with a diagnosis of
schizophrenia, all the rest were labelled as schizophrenia in remission thus, it is
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apparent that although these individuals exhibited completely normal behaviour
afterwards and had no history of abnormality, they were labelled as schizophrenics
for life
The failure of recognition cannot be attributed to quality of hospitals because there
were 12 different hospitals of varying qualities, and several of them were considered
excellent also, it cannot be attributed to insufficiency of time, because the
hospitalization ranged from 7-52 days, with an average of 19 days
The patients were able to detect the pseudopatients’ normality when the staff was
unable to
Failure to detect sanity may be due to this: physicians are more likely to call a
normal person sick (a false positive, type 2) than a sick person healthy (false
negative, type 1) this is because it is more dangerous to misdiagnose an ill person
as healthy than it is to misdiagnose a healthy person as ill
Psychiatric diagnoses carry with them personal, legal, and social stigmas
Another experiment was performed with the pseudopatients this time, the staff
was told that they’re going to be receiving pseudopatients within the next three
months and each time a patient entered they were asked to rate each patient
according to the likelihood that they may be a pseudopatient
Forty-one patients were alleged, with high confidence, to be pseudopatients by at
least one member of the staff; 23 were considered suspect by at least one psychiatrist
; 19 were suspected by one psychiatrist and one staff member; none of these patients
were pseudopatients this indicates that the tendency to designate sane people as
insane can be reversed when stakes (in this case, prestige and diagnostic acumen)
are high
Thus, since diagnosis consists of so many errors, the distinction between normality
and abnormality is not very reliable
Gestalt Psychology: there are central personality traits which are so powerful that
they make other traits less noticeable among these is schizophrenic, manic-
depressive, etc, that once a person has been labelled as these, their normal traits
are ignored
Diagnoses of the pseudopatients were in no way affected by the pseudopatients
normal life history instead, the perception of life history was entirely shaped by the
diagnosis e.g. completely normal events in the pseudopatients life history were
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