Robert L. Spitzer argued in his 1975 critique of “On Being Sane” that the experiment gave an incorrect impression about a psychologist’s role in determining sanity. He also stated that the central question of the research was flawed because the experiment asked for the detection of sanity within a presumable “sane” person attempting to simulate having mental illness. By expecting staff to view the behaviors of the admitted patients as being normal, it essentially became an assessment of whether the pseudo patient behavior was deemed sane. Spitzer also criticized Rosenhan’s suggestion that discharging patients as “schizophrenic in remission” was a failure of staff to identify patients as being sane. Discharging patients as such actually indicated that the staff observed the pseudo patients as no longer showing signs of psychiatric disturbance, and was reflective of the nature of mental illness being remitted and recurring.
Theodore Millon (1975) criticized Rosenhan’s experiment, claiming that the experiment was not empirically sound. In his opinion, the study’s design and subsequent publication of results did not adequately highlight the purposes of the diagnoses classification. As Rosenhan had suggested that within his findings only observable behaviors be documented, Millon fe...
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...ent. Both of the cases were based on real patients who (had been) diagnosed with undifferentiated schizophrenic disorder with a dependent personality disorder. The findings of this study indicate that the sex and race of the patient does affect the diagnosis. The study further found that the sex and race of the psychiatrist affected the diagnosis as well (Loring, 1988).
Our group members feel that Rosenhan’s “On Being Sane in Insane Places” is an important topic for psychology majors to explore because of the impact it had on Psychology. This study highlighted the fact that diagnostic labels linger beyond the presence of symptoms. It also showed the lack of attention patients were receiving from the staff at psychiatric hospitals in the time period the experiment was conducted. Beyond the experiment itself, it led to further research which was important to the field.
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