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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For example, once admitted to a psychiatric institution, it is difficult, if not impossible, to be discharged on short notice, state law to the contrary notwithstanding.

The pseudopatient, very much as a true psychiatric patient, entered a hospital with no foreknowledge of when he would be discharged. The study was conducted by psychologist David Rosenhana Stanford University professor, and published by the journal Science im under the title ” On being sane in insane places “.

At times, depersonalization reached such proportions that pseudopatients had the sense that they were invisible, or at least unworthy of account. It suggested that the use of community mental health facilities which concentrated on specific problems and behaviors rather than psychiatric labels might be a solution, and recommended education to make psychiatric workers more aware of the social psychology of their facilities. The data I have presented do not do justice to the rich daily encounters that bring up around matters of depersonalization and avoidance.

A rosenhsn label has a life and an influence of its own. One illuminating instance of depersonalization and invisibility occurred with regard to medication.

On Being Sane In Insane Places

Being Sane in Insane Places speaker’s voice over at 2: That their behavior was in no way disruptive is confirmed by nursing reports, which have been obtained on most of the patients. We now know that we cannot distinguish sanity from insanity. Sixty percent of the former beinb diagnosed psychoses, most often schizophrenia, while none of the control group did so.

Psychiatric diagnoses, in this view, are in the minds of observers and are not valid summaries of characteristics displayed by the observed. 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.


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 roaenhan the pseudopatients would not ever be voluntarily released on short notice.

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. Having once been labeled schizophrenic, there is nothing the pseudopatient can do to overcome the tag. Those who have worked in psychiatric hospitals are likely to have adapted so thoroughly to the settings that they are insensitive to the impact of that experience.

The pseudopatient spoke to patients and staff as he might ordinarily. 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.

Personal privacy is minimal. How Mad Are You? The settings are similarly varied. Tempers were often short. They are the natural offspring of the labels patients wear and the places in which they are found.

Szne and the other pseudopatients reported an overwhelming sense of dehumanizationsevere invasion of privacy, and boredom while hospitalized. 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.

They reported that though the staff seemed to be well-meaning, they generally objectified and dehumanized zane patients, often discussing patients at length in their presence as though they were rossnhan there, and avoiding direct interaction with patients except as strictly necessary to perform official duties.

In another twist szne this study, some of the normal behavior of the pseudo patients was seen as pathological. Such attitudes should not surprise us.

To a group of young residents he indicated that such behavior was characteristic of the oral-acquisitive nature of the syndrome. Knowing basic psychology can help you in all areas of your live, both personally and professionally.

Rosenhan experiment

Nevertheless, they appeared to go unquestioned. Length of hospitalization ranged from 7 to 52 days, with an average of 19 days. Patient quarters and possessions can be entered and examined by any staff member, for whatever reason. The same person began to engage in psychotherapy with other patients — all of this as a way of becoming a person in an impersonal environment. His present relationship with his wife was characteristically close and warm. For example, the staff notes for three of the patients read “patient engages in writing behavior.


Gains can be made in deciding which of these is more nearly accurate by getting normal people that is, people who do not have, and have never suffered, symptoms of serious psychiatric disorders admitted to psychiatric hospitals and then determining whether they were discovered to be sane and, if so, how. 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.

If sanity and insanity exist, how shall we know them? And, as I have shown, the magnitude of distortion is exceedingly high in the extreme context that is a psychiatric hospital. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 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 in which an observer finds him.

But we can and do speak to the relatively more objective indices of treatment within the hospital.

On Being Sane in Insane Places

No secret was made of these activities. This is a full college-level course.

Patient contact is not a significant priority in the traditional psychiatric hospital, and fiscal pressures do not account for this. But the label endures beyond discharge, with the unconfirmed expectation that he will behave as a schizophrenic again. Putting on a conference?