Pshychiatric Quackery

From the BBC show “The Trap: What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom?”

David Rosenhan devised a dramatic experiment. He assembled 8 people, including himself, none of whom had ever had any psychiatric problems.

Each person was sent across the country to a specific mental hospital. At an agreed time, they all presented themselves at their hospital and told the psychiatrist on duty they were hearing a voice in their head that said the word “Thud”. That was the only lie they should tell otherwise they were to behave and respond completely normally.”

Question – “and then what happened?”

David Rosenhan – “They were all diagnosed as insane and admitted to the hospital.”

Question – “All of them?”

David Rosenhan – “All of them.”

Question – “And were any of them insane?”

David Rosenhan – “No. There was nobody who could have judged these people as insane. … but I told friends, I told my family, I get out when I get out; that’s all. Be there for a couple of days and then I get out. Nobody knew I would be there for 2 months!”

Commentator – “Once admitted, all 8 fake patients acted completely normally yet the hospitals refused to release them and diagnosed 7 as suffering from schizophrenia and one from bipolar disorder. They were all given powerful psychotropic drugs.

They found there was nothing they could do to convince the doctors they were sane and it quickly became clear that the only way out would be to agree that they were insane and then pretend to be getting better.

David Rosenhan – “The only way out was to point out that they’re correct. They said I was insane, I am insane, but I am getting better. That was an affirmation of their view of me.”

Commentator – “When Rosenhan finally got out and reported the experiment, there was an uproar. He was accused of trickery and deceit and one major hospital challenged him to send some more fakes to him, guaranteeing that they would spot them this time.

Rosenhan agreed and after a month, the hospital proudly announced that they had discovered 41 fakes. Rosenhan then revealed that he had sent no-one to the hospital.”


~ by herodotuswept on April 7, 2008.

One Response to “Pshychiatric Quackery”

  1. Oh yes, I did read this. I am not always able to respond but I do keep up. I also read your post on Biden. He makes me itchy and I’m not sure I like him as a VP. Of course, I really don’t like my other option. I have a post I have been working on about the election. I need about 5 more hours in the day.

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