Rosenhan Experiment Essay

1221 WordsMay 14, 20135 Pages
Rosenhan experiment The Rosenhan experiment was an experiment into the validity of psychiatric diagnosis, conducted by David Rosenhan in 1973. The study is considered an important and influential criticism of psychiatric diagnosis. Rosenhan's study was done in two parts. The first part involved the use of healthy associates who briefly simulated auditory hallucinations in an attempt to gain admission to 12 different psychiatric hospitals in five different states in various locations in the United States. All were admitted and diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. After admission, the pseudopatients acted normally and told staff that they felt fine and had not experienced any more hallucinations. All were forced to admit to having a…show more content…
The hospital staffs were not informed of the experiment. The pseudopatients included a psychology graduate student in his twenties, three psychologists, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a painter and a housewife. None had a history of mental illness. Pseudopatients used pseudonyms, and those who worked in the mental health field were given false jobs in a different sector to avoid invoking any special treatment or scrutiny. Apart from giving false names and employment details, further biographical details were truthfully reported. During their initial psychiatric assessment, they claimed to be hearing voices of the same sex as the patient which were often unclear, but which seemed to pronounce the words "empty", "hollow", "thud" and nothing else. These words were chosen as they vaguely suggest some sort of existential crisis and for the lack of any published literature referencing them as psychoticsymptoms. No other psychiatric symptoms were claimed. If admitted, the pseudopatients were instructed to "act normally", reporting that they felt fine and no longer heard voices. Hospital records obtained after the experiment indicate that all pseudopatients were characterized as friendly and cooperative by staff. All were admitted, to 12 different psychiatric hospitals across the United States, including rundown and underfunded public hospitals in rural areas, urban
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