Rosenhan was one of these critics. As a researcher and psychiatrist himself, he put together a team of eight perfectly healthy and sane “pseudo patients” (five. Being Sane in Insane Places. D. L. ROSENHAN. If sanity and insanity exist, how shall we know them? The question is neither capricious nor itself insane. 8 sane people (pseudopatients) gained secret admission to hospitals in 5 states on the East and Rosenhan, D. L. (). On being sane in insane places.

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But the precautions proved needless. Once a person is designated abnormal, all of his other behaviors and characteristics are colored by that label. But while treatment has improved, it is doubtful that people really regard the mentally ill in the same way that they view the physically ill. The hospital itself imposes a special environment in which the meaning of behavior can easily be misunderstood. I told friends, Rlsenhan told my family: Today, psychopathology is still very subjective and arguably as much of an art as it is a placees, with questionable criteria as to what is considered a mental “illness” or not.

Normality and presumably abnormality is distinct enough that it can be recognized wherever it occurs, for it is carried within the person. But normality and abnormality, sanity and insanity, and the diagnoses that flow from them may be less substantive than many believe them to be. Different cultures tolerate what many would consider insane behaviors based on cultural or religious norms. Only two were swallowed. 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.

Rosenhan experiment

It is depressing to consider how that information will be used. If sanity and insanity exist, how shall we know them?

Failure to detect sanity during the course of hospitalization may be due to the fact that physicians operate with a strong bias toward what statisticians call the Type 2 error. Retrieved from ” https: In another twist to beung study, some of the normal behavior of the pseudo patients was seen as pathological.

Archived from the original on Staff are credible witnesses. A group of bored patients waiting outside the cafeteria for lunch early were said by a doctor to his students to be experiencing “oral-acquisitive” psychiatric symptoms. Psychiatric diagnoses, on the contrary, carry with them personal, legal, and social stigmas. Out of patients, 41 were considered to be impostors and a further 42 were considered suspect.

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The Rosenhan experiment or Thud experiment was an experiment conducted to determine the validity of psychiatric diagnosis. Moreover, many of them had never visited a psychiatric ward; even those who had, nevertheless had some genuine fears about what might happen to them.

But that they affect the professionals — attendants, nurses, physicians, psychologists and social workers — who treat and deal with the mentally ill is more disconcerting, both because such attitudes are self-evidently pernicious and because they are unwitting. While there was clearly some tension present in all of them, their daily visitors could detect no serious behavioral consequences—nor, indeed, could other patients.

Rosenhan and the other pseudopatients reported an overwhelming sense of dehumanizationsevere invasion of privacy, and boredom while hospitalized. Science portal Medicine portal Psychiatry portal Psychology portal.

Judgments were obtained on patients who were admitted for psychiatric treatment. That such attitudes infect the general population is perhaps not surprising, only upsetting. Where they failed, as they sometimes did painfully, it would be more accurate to attribute those failures to the environment in which they, too, found themselves than to personal callousness. But when the stimuli to my hallucinations are unknown, that is called craziness, or schizophrenia —as if that inference were somehow as illuminating as the others.

A diagnosis of cancer that has been found to be in error is cause for celebration.

On Being Sane in Insane Places

Even today, there are many different models of mental illness, none of which are perfect or upon which are universally agreed. The pseudopatient, very much plaaces a true psychiatric patient, entered a hospital with no foreknowledge of when he would be discharged.

There is no way of knowing. All of them employed pseudonyms, lest their alleged diagnoses embarrass them later. But psychiatric diagnoses are rarely found to be in error. And doctoral staff serve as models for nurses and attendants. Nursing records for three patients indicate that the writing was seen as an aspect of their pathological behavior. The question is neither capricious nor itself insane. Earn your certificates today! Such attitudes should not surprise us. When asked by staff how he was feeling, he indicated that he was fine, that he no longer experienced symptoms.


Length of hospitalization ranged from 7 to 52 days, with an average of 19 days. To raise questions regarding normality and abnormality is in no way to question the fact that some behaviors are deviant or odd. All were admitted, to 12 psychiatric hospitals across the United States, including rundown and underfunded public hospitals in rural areas, urban university-run hospitals with excellent reputations, and one expensive private hospital.

No secret was made of these activities. In the early 70s, just like today, there were many critics of the mental health industry, specifically in the area of psychiatry. I have records of patients who were beaten by staff for the sin of having initiated verbal contact. They rarely talk about it with former patients, perhaps because they distrust information coming from the previously insane. On the ward, attendants delivered verbal and occasionally serious physical abuse to patients in the presence of others the pseudopatients who were writing it all down.

Subsequently, he informed the staff that he was applying isnane admission to graduate school in psychology and was very likely to be admitted, since a graduate professor was one of his regular rosenan visitors.

Rosenhan published his findings in Sciencein which he criticized the reliability of psychiatric diagnosis and the disempowering and demeaning nature of patient care experienced by the associates in the study. Pseudopatients used pseudonyms, and those who worked in the mental health field were given false jobs in a different sector to avoid invoking any special treatment or scrutiny.

During their initial psychiatric assessmentthe pseudopatients claimed to be hearing voices of the same sex as the patient which were often unclear, but which seemed to pronounce the words “empty,” “hollow,” “thud,” and nothing else. Avoidance and depersonalization may. First are attitudes pplaces by all of us toward the mentally ill — including those who treat them — attitudes characterized by fear, distrust, and horrible expectations on the one hand, and benevolent intentions on the other.