Rosenhan (1973)

A detailed description of Rosenhan (1973) in terms of both studies, aims, procedure, results and conclusions.

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  • Rosenhan (1973)
    • 'Being sane in insane places'
      • 8 Pseudo patients in 5 states in 12 hospitals.
    • Aimed to investigate whether 8 people gaining admission to 12 psychiatric hospitals would be found out as 'sane'.
      • To investigate the experience of being in a psychiatric hospital
    • Hospital administrator and chief psychologist knew about Rosenhan
      • Participants called for an appointment claiming they were hearing voices 'Empty, hollow, thud'
        • Participants gave a different name but genuine personal history
      • As soon as participants were admitted they stopped exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia.
        • They were given medication which they did not swallow, responded to staff instructions and interacted with other patients.
    • Participants were never detected as pseudo-patients (7/8 were diagnosed with schizophrenia in remission).
      • The hospital stay ranged from 7-52 days with the average stay at 19 days.
      • 33/118 patients voiced their suspicions about participants.
        • Once labelled schizophrenic participants found they were stuck with that label
    • STUDY 2:  Staff at a teaching hospital doubted the findings of Rosenhan's study so Rosenhan told the hospital pseudo-patients would be sent to be re-admitted within the next three months.
      • Staff were asked to rate patients 1-10 to reflect the likelihood of them being a pseudo-patient.
        • 193 patients were given judgement and 41 were judged as pseudopatients with high confidence by atleast one member of staff.
          • 23/193 were considered to be pseudo-patients by a psychiatrist however no pseudopatients were sent by Rosenhan.
    • It was concluded that staff in psychiatric hospitals were unable to distinguish between those who were sane and those who were insane
      • Therefore, the DSM was not a valid measurement of mental illness at that time.


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