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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That such a variety of medications should have been administered to patients presenting identical symptoms is itself worthy of note.

On Being Sane in Insane Places

Rather, we counted instances of emergence from the cage. This is a full college-level course. Observe, however, how such a history was translated in the psychopathological context, this from the case summary prepared after the patient was discharged.

These are termed sleep-induced hallucinations, or dreams, and drug-induced hallucinations, respectively. But the precautions proved needless. Beyond the tendency to call the healthy sick — a tendency that accounts better for diagnostic behavior on admission than it does for such behavior after a lengthy period of exposure — the data speak to the massive role of labeling in psychiatric assessment.

His personal hygiene and waste evacuation are often monitored. Kety in a criticism of Rosenhan’s study: Some examples may clarify this issue. Laingwho was associated with the anti-psychiatry movement, Rosenhan conceived of the experiment as a way to test the reliability of psychiatric diagnoses.

They were observed by three experts in mental health diagnoses and their challenge was to identify the five with mental health problems solely from their behavior, without speaking to the subjects or learning anything of their histories.

First are attitudes held 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.

On being sane in insane places.

If they labeled and treated me as having a bleeding peptic ulcer, I doubt that I could argue convincingly that medical science does not know how to diagnose that condition. In order to make this experiment work, the pseudo patients had to lie about their name, job, and the fact that they heard a voice in their heads. A diagnosis of cancer that has been found to be in error is cause for celebration.


If he initiates and maintains eye contact, there is reason to believe that he is considering your requests and needs. A warm relationship with his mother cools during his adolescence. In this vein, psychiatrist Robert Spitzer quoted Seymour S.

For example, the staff notes for three of the patients read “patient engages in writing behavior. The experiment required the pseudopatients to get out of the hospital on their own by getting the hospital to release them, though a lawyer was retained to be on call for emergencies when it became clear that the pseudopatients would not ever be voluntarily released on short notice.

He cannot initiate contact with the staff, but may only respond to such overtures as they make. When a sufficient amount of time has passed, during which the patient has done nothing bizarre, he is considered to be in remission and available for discharge.

In American investigative journalist Nellie Bly feigned symptoms of mental illness to gain admission to a lunatic asylum and report on the terrible conditions therein. 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.

Yet, while financial stresses are realities, too much can be made of them. If he pauses to chat or actually stops and talks, there is added reason to infer that he is individuating you.

Most mental health professionals would insist that they are sympathetic toward the mentally ill, that they are neither avoidant nor hostile. It turns out, the experimenter actually sent no pseudo patients that time. And while he placces that he has several good friends, one senses considerable ambivalence embedded in those relationships also. Given that the hospital staff was not incompetent, that the pseudopatient had been behaving as sanely as he had been out of 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 inaane which an observer finds him.

Rosenhan experiment – Wikipedia

Rosenhan arranged with them that during a three-month period, one or more pseudopatients would attempt to beihg admission and the staff would rate every incoming patient as to the likelihood they were an impostor. Finally, it cannot be said that the failure to recognize the pseudopatients’ sanity was due to the fact that they were not behaving sanely.


For others, directly experiencing the impact of psychiatric hospitalization will be of enormous use. Clearly, further research into the social psychology of such total institutions will both facilitate treatment and deepen understanding.

Frustrations and upsets were described along with joys and satisfactions. But what holds for medicine does not hold equally well for psychiatry. The facts of the case were unintentionally distorted asne the rosenhab to achieve consistency with a popular theory of the dynamics of a schizophrenic reaction. As a researcher and psychiatrist himself, he put together a team of eight perfectly healthy and sane “pseudo patients” five men and three women to have themselves committed in one of several psychiatric hospitals across the United States.

Psychiatric diagnoses, on the contrary, carry with them personal, legal, and social stigmas.

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. Hospital notes indicated that staff interpreted much of the pseudopatients’ behavior in terms of mental illness. In four hospitals, the pseudopatients approached the staff member with a request which took the following form: This is a college-level course designed to introduce students to the field social psychology, helping students better understand why and how the way we feel, behave, and think is is largely a result of our social worlds.

Rosenhan experiment

All told, the pseudopatients were administered nearly pills, including Elavil, Stelazine, Compazine, and Thorazine, to name but a few. The line between sane and insane is a fine one, and a simple label can make all the difference via the expectancy bias. It seemed not to occur to him that there were very few plcaes to anticipate in a psychiatric hospital besides eating.

Only two were swallowed. Even here, however, caution needs to be exercised in understanding the role of psychotropic drugs. The average amount of time spent by attendants outside of the cage was The only way out was to point rosebhan that they’re [the psychiatrists] correct. Sociology in a Changing World Google Books 9th ed.