The flawed experiment that destroyed the world's faith in psychiatry .




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Fifty years in the past, psychiatrist David Rosenhan went undercover in a psychiatric hospital to show its darkish facet. However his stunning findings aren’t what they appear, reveals Susannah Cahalan


5 February 2020

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Many psychiatric hospitals closed as psychological well being care shifted to communities

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ON 6 February 1969, David Lurie advised a psychiatrist at Haverford State Hospital in Pennsylvania that he had been listening to voices. “Hole”, “empty” and “thud”, they mentioned.

The voices had been the one symptom skilled by the in any other case wholesome 39-year-old copywriter. After an in-depth interview, during which Lurie was requested about his household life and two kids, he was recognized with schizophrenia and hospitalised.

But all was not because it appeared. David Lurie didn’t exist. This was, in truth, an alias for psychologist David Rosenhan of Stanford College in California, who went undercover with seven different “pretenders” to check whether or not psychiatric workers might distinguish sanity from madness.


Printed in 1973, his examine contributed to an erosion of public religion in psychiatry, a distrust memorably portrayed within the 1975 movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest starring Jack Nicholson. Rosenhan’s work held up for scrutiny the usually dangerous nature of psychiatric hospitals and galvanised a rising motion to close the big ones and exchange them with smaller, community-based psychological well being centres. In its wake, “psychiatrists regarded like unreliable and antiquated quacks unfit to hitch within the analysis revolution”, says psychiatrist Allen Frances, previously at Duke College College of Medication in North Carolina.

Rosenhan’s paper was “some of the influential items of social science printed within the 20th century”, says sociologist and historian Andrew Scull on the College of California, San Diego.

However it wasn’t all it appeared. After spending six years investigating Rosenhan and his well-known work, I imagine he could have carried out …