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Rosenhan Facts

  • Date Submitted: 01/07/2014 02:06 PM
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Rosenhan Facts
• Rosenhan himself and seven mentally healthy associates, called "pseudopatients", attempted to gain admission to psychiatric hospitals by calling for an appointment and pretended to be affected by auditory hallucinations.
• The pseudopatients included a psychology graduate student in his twenties, three psychologists, a paediatrician, a psychiatrist, a painter and a housewife. None had a history of mental illness.
• 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.
• All were admitted, to 12 different psychiatric hospitals across the United States.
• 7 were diagnosed with schizophrenia at public hospitals, and one with manic-depressive psychosis.
• Their stays ranged from 7 to 52 days, and the average was 19 days. 
• Despite constantly and openly taking extensive notes on the behaviour of the staff and other patients, none of the pseudopatients were identified as impostors by the hospital staff, although many of the other psychiatric patients seemed to be able to correctly identify them as impostors.
• Hospital notes indicated that staff interpreted much of the pseudopatients' behavior in terms of mental illness. For example, one nurse labeled the note-taking of one pseudopatient as "writing behaviour" and considered it pathological.
• Once admitted and diagnosed, the pseudopatients were not able to obtain their release until they agreed with the psychiatrists that they were mentally ill and began taking anti-psychotic medications, which they flushed down the toilet. No staff member noticed that the pseudopatients were flushing their medication down the toilets and did not report patients doing this.
• Rosenhan and the other pseudopatients reported an overwhelming sense of dehumanisation, severe invasion of privacy, and boredom while hospitalised. Their...


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