Faking mental disturbance to test the system

“In 1972, David Rosenhan, a newly minted psychologist with a joint degree in law, called eight friends and said something like, “Are you busy next month? Would you have time to fake your way into a mental hospital and see what happens?”

When David Rosenhan first presented to the psychiatrist he complained of a voice in his head that simply said ‘thud’. After some simple test he was admitted and kept in the institution for weeks, despite immediately telling his doctor that the voice had now disappeared. How could it be so simple to fool a professional? Back in 1972 Rosenhan’s report of his experiences scandalised the psychiatric profession.

Inspired by Rosenhan, psychologist Lauren Slater repeated the experiment recently and her conclusions were only marginally less disturbing.

A summary of Rosenhan’s research. Rosenhan’s original article in full. Review of Lauren Slater’s book.

Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything (ebook)

spark_small2
PsyBlog’s new ebook, “Spark” is a step-by-step guide to using psychological techniques to achieve the goals you want.

Being passionate about a project or goal — no matter how big or small — makes us feel alive.

It is invigorating to think about the changes you could make in yourself or in the world...

GET 10% OFF: USE CODE "10OFF" -->

Published: 31 January 2004

Text: © All rights reserved.

Images: Creative Commons License