Who’s Crazy Here, Anyway? The Rosenhan experiment.

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by boo, Jul 31, 2010.

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  1. boo

    boo Well-Known Member

    Bare in mind that this experiment was done quite a while ago. So things could be different now... or is it? :wink:

    The Rosenhan experiment was a famous experiment into the validity of psychiatric diagnosis conducted by psychologist David Rosenhan in 1973. It was published in the journal Science under the title "On being sane in insane places." The study is considered an important and influential criticism of psychiatric diagnosis.

    Rosenhan himself and eight mentally healthy associates, called "pseudopatients", attempted to gain admission to psychiatric hospitals by calling for an appointment and feigning auditory hallucinations. The hospital staffs were not informed of the experiment. The pseudopatients included a psychology graduate student in his twenties, three psychologists, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a painter and a homemaker. None had a history of mental illness. 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. Apart from giving false names and employment details, further biographical details were truthfully reported.

    During their initial psychiatric assessment, they 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. These words were chosen as they vaguely suggest some sort of existential crisis and for the lack of any published literature referencing them as psychotic symptoms. No other psychiatric symptoms were claimed. If admitted, the pseudopatients were instructed to "act normally," report that they felt fine and no longer heard voices. Hospital records obtained after the experiment indicate that all pseudopatients were characterized as friendly and cooperative by staff. All were admitted, to 12 different 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.

    Though presented with identical symptoms, 11 were diagnosed with schizophrenia at public hospitals, and one with manic-depressive psychosis, a more optimistic diagnosis with better clinical outcomes, at the private hospital. Their stays ranged from 7 to 52 days, and the average was 19 days. All were discharged with a diagnosis of schizophrenia "in remission," which Rosenhan takes as evidence that mental illness is perceived as an irreversible condition creating a lifelong stigma rather than a curable illness.

    Rosenhan and the other pseudopatients reported an overwhelming sense of depersonalization, severe invasion of privacy, and boredom while hospitalized. Their possessions were searched randomly, and they were sometimes observed while using the toilet. They reported that though the staff seemed to be well-meaning, they generally objectified and dehumanized the patients, often discussing patients at length in their presence as though they were not there, and avoiding direct interaction with patients except as strictly necessary to perform official duties. Some attendants were prone to verbal and physical abuse of patients when other staff were not present. 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. Contact with doctors averaged 6.8 minutes per day.
    VERY interesting because this is exactly the experience i had lol

    Later on another experiment.
    The staff would rate every incoming patient as to the likelihood they were an impostor. Out of 193 patients, 41 were considered to be impostors and a further 42 were considered suspect. In reality, Rosenhan had sent no pseudopatients and all patients suspected as impostors by the hospital staff were ordinary patients.


    Your thoughts?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2010
  2. plates

    plates Well-Known Member

    I saw this on youtube by some young guy who was talking about his experience of how cannabis helped him, but also the downsides too. Yeah, things were like that back in the 70s, and I have to say, from my personal experience..nothing much has changed when it comes to understanding psychosis or the complexity of mental health problems, and how to treat people.
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