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Sociology (1,053)
SOCA02H3 (310)


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Malcolm Mac Kinnon

MSL READING 19: ON BEING SANE IN INSANE PLACES BY: DAVID L. ROSENHAN (p. 197 207) - Deviance is the recognized violation of social norms. - Whether a person is labelled deviant depends on how others perceive, define, and respond to that persons behaviour - Even if we are personally convinced that we can tell the normal from the abnormal, the evidence for that is not compelling. There is a great deal of conflicting data on the reliability, utility, and meaning of such terms as sanity, insanity, mental illness, and schizophrenia. Benedict suggested that normality and abnormality are not universal. What is viewed as normal in one culture may be seen as quite abnormal in another. - Some behaviours (i.e., murder or hallucinations) are deviant or odd. - With mental illness comes the existence of personal anguish (e.g., anxiety, depression, psychological suffering, etc). - Normality and abnormality, sanity and insanity, and the diagnoses that flow from them may be less substantive than many believe them to be. - The belief has been strong that patients present symptoms, that those symptoms can be categorized, and, implicitly that the sane are distinguishable from the insane. Most recently, however, this belief has been questioned. Based in part on theoretical and anthropological considerations, but also on philosophical, legal, and therapeutic ones, the view has grown that psychological categorization of mental illness is useless at best and downright harmful, misleading, and pejorative (judgmental) at worst. o Psychiatric diagnoses, in this view, are in the minds of the observers and are not valid in summaries of characteristics displayed by the observed. - In studying whether a patient admitted to a hospital is determined to be sane and how such a diagnosis is made, gains can be made getting normal people (people without history or symptoms of serious psychiatric disorders) admitted to psychiatric hospitals. If the sanity of such pseudopatients were ALWAYS DETECTED, there would be prima facie evidence that a sane individual can be distinguished from the insane context in which he is found. Normality (and presumably abnormality) is distinct enough that it can be recognized wherever it occurs, for it is carried within a person. If the sanity of the pseudopatients were NEVER DISCOVERED, serious difficulties would arise for those who support traditional modes of psychiatric diagnosis. Given that the hospital was not incompetent, that the pseudopatient had been behaving as sanely as he had been outside the hospital, and that it had never been previously suggested that he belonged in a psychiatric hospital, such an unlikely outcome would support the view that psychiatric diagnosis betrays little about the patient but much about the environment in which an observer finds him. www.notesolution.com
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