PSYC 3321 ASSIGNMENT PAPER
Subject: Psychology / Abnormal Psychology
Due on: 04/19/2017
A famous study was conducted by Rosenhan (Science, 1973), entitled “On Being Sane in Insane Places.” This study involved eight mentally healthy people, some psychologists and psychiatrists, who faked mental illness and were admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Each person described auditory hallucinations, claiming to hear the words “empty,” “dull,” and “thud.” They were each admitted to psychiatric hospitals with these symptoms. Once admitted, they failed to report any symptoms and acted like themselves.
While in the hospital, many normal behaviors were noted by the staff as abnormal. One of the “patients” was an artist, and her paintings were seen as an expression of her illness and recovery. Other “patients” taking notes were described to be making “schizophrenic writing.”
Consider Thomas Szasz, who claimed that mental illness was a myth. His view on schizophrenia was that it should be properly regarded as a problem of living in a society that mistreats individuals who are different. He stated that, “In the past, men created witches. Now they create mental patients.”
Also consider Kety’s (1974) reaction to the Rosenhan study. He made mention of the facts that auditory hallucinations are rare and generally indicate severe mental illness, and that the patients in the study were released with diagnoses of schizophrenia “in remission” (a very rare diagnosis). His response was that “If I were to drink a quart of blood and, concealing what I had done, come to the emergency room of any hospital vomiting blood, the behavior of the staff would be predictable. If they labeled and treated me as having a bleeding peptic ulcer, I doubt that I could argue convincingly that medical science does not know how to diagnose.”
What do you believe about this study and the views presented as a result? Discuss the pros and cons of each view. What normal behaviors, given the right context, may be interpreted as symptoms of mental illness?