Rosenhan’s Experiment: On Being Sane In Insane Places

1169 words - 5 pages

For long time before Rosenhan conducted his experiment, there had been historical attempts of classifying abnormal behaviors. Notably, medical model was the most common approach in understanding and classifying abnormal behaviors. The medical model mainly specified with treating mental illnesses (Kleinman, 2012). The model is also known as psychiatry with psychiatrists being medical doctors among other practitioners trained to handle mental related illnesses. Since the early 1950s, the medical approach had been used for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM) for classifying abnormal behaviors. Nonetheless, in the 1960s, the model was highly criticized especially among psychotherapists and psychiatrists. This criticism led to the anti-psychiatry movement. The movement’s concern was that the principles of the medical approach were defective in classifying and identifying persons with abnormality correctly (Huss, 2009). David Rosenhan was among the critics of the medical model, and in response he decided to conduct an experiment that would be more effective; an alternative for the medical model.
The main purpose of the Rosenhan’s Experiment was to test the hypothesis that using the medical model, psychiatrists could not reliably identify the difference in sane and insane persons. Therefore, he got into a field experiment where he succeeded in manipulating the pseudo patients’ symptoms (Huss, 2009). Additionally, the study involved participant observation; on admission, the pseudo patients took notes on how the wards were operated and how they were treated individually. This research experiment was conducted in two parts with the first part involving 8 sane persons who were psychology graduate students in their 20s. The research also involved:
One painter
Three psychologists
One pediatrician
One housewife
These participants attempted admission in twelve different hospitals. Notably, they also targeted five different states in the United States. The experiment generally involved three women and five men. The pseudo patients made phone calls to the targeted hospitals and seek for appointments and on arrival at the hospitals’ admission offices, they complained of hearing voices (Huss, 2009). They described that these voices were unfamiliar and mysterious. Moreover, they noted that the voices were unclear but they could hear things like ‘empty’, ‘hollow’, and ‘thud’. It should be noted that the Rosenhan’s Experimental research picked these voices because they were similar to “’what is it?’ a ‘who am I?’” that are usually raised the concerns how and individual’s life may be meaningless (Kleinman, 2012).
The pseudo patients also gave fake names and jobs. This was so not to protect them from future employment and health records. However, all other details that they provided were true including their general ups and downs in life, their life history, and relationships. After their admission, they all stopped simulating...

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