In this study conducted by D.L. Rosenhan, the following question is raised: are mental health professionals really able to tell who is mentally healthy and who is mentally ill? And what are the consequences of mistakes? To answer these questions, Rosenhan himself and eight other “pseudopatients” presented themselves at different psychological hospitals acting normally other than pretending to be hearing voices saying the same three words; all were admitted. The pseudopatients’ goal once they were admitted was to convince the staff that they were mentally healthy. The hospital staffs failed to detect the patients but interestingly enough, other patients knew pretty easily. While there was a severe lack of personal contact between staff and patients, there was no such lack of medications (the pseudopatients and many of the real patients flushed their pills down the toilet). One of the pseudopatients even noted that a nurse unbuttoned her uniform to adjust her bra in front of a dayroom of male patients; she wasn’t intending to be provocative, but simply did not view the patients as “real people”(Hock 2009).
Rosenhan’s study is critical to the world of psychology because it yielded two major results: 1) it appeared that the sane could not be distinguished from the “insane” and 2) it demonstrated the danger and damage diagnostic labels can cause. Rosenhan’s work caused extra care in diagnostic procedures to be taken and increased awareness of the harmful effects of labeling patients as well as a decrease in hospital populations, an increase in antipsychotic medications, and an increase in mental health facilities that focus on specific problems and tend to avoid labels(Hock 2009). In the study “Listen to My ...
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Klein, P. D. (1997). Multiplying the problems of intelligence by eight: A critique of Gardner's theory. Canadian Journal of Education, 22(4), 377-394.
Lester, H., & Trotter, J. Q. (2005). 'Listen to my madness': Understanding the experiences of people with serious mental illness. Sociology of Health and Wellness, 27(5), 649-699. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9566.2005.00460.x
Lilienfeld, S. O., Wood, J. M., & Garb, H. N. (2000). The scientific status of projective techniques [Abstract]. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 1(2), 27-66. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1529-1006.002
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