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The great pretender : the undercover mission that changed our understanding of madness

by Cahalan, Susannah,

Format: Print Book 2019
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Summary
"One of America's most courageous young journalists" and the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Brain on Fire investigates the shocking mystery behind the dramatic experiment that revolutionized modern medicine (NPR ).

Doctors have struggled for centuries to define insanity--how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people--sane, healthy, well-adjusted members of society--went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry's labels. Forced to remain inside until they'd "proven" themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan's watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.

But, as Cahalan's explosive new research shows in this real-life detective story, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors?
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Following her bestselling memoir, Brain on Fire (2012), about how an unknown pathogen caused brain inflammation, seizures, and paranoia, journalist Cahalan tackles a larger medical mystery that also raises profound questions about the field of psychiatry. Her quest: to figure out the true story behind an influential 1973 article in Science, On Being Sane in Insane Places, that changed the national conversation about mental health. Psychologist David Rosenhan and seven other sane, healthy people pretended to hear voices and committed themselves to psychiatric institutions to see if doctors and staff could distinguish between individuals who were genuinely ill versus the undercover pretenders. But Cahalan began wondering if the now deceased Rosenhan, who never revealed the volunteers' real names, might have made it all up? She notes that the study contributed to the shuttering of psychiatric hospitals, and to important disclosures about how depersonalized mentally ill patients felt and how psychiatric conditions were often dismissed as less legitimate than physical ones. Cahalan's compelling and provocative investigation raises many questions about our attitudes toward mental illness and psychiatry.--Karen Springen Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Journalist Cahalan (Brain on Fire) sets a new standard for investigative journalism in this fascinating investigation into a pivotal psychological study. In 1973, the mental health system was in trouble, she writes, thanks to weak diagnostic criteria and overburdened hospitals and health-care providers. Stanford psychologist David Rosenhan understood it would take a grand gesture to incite reform--such as recruiting seven sane individuals to feign auditory hallucinations. Rosenhan used their accounts of institutionalization to write the 1973 article "On Being Sane in Insane Places," which sparked controversy and led to the widespread reform or closure of institutions and a revision of the DSM. However, his volunteers' identities were never revealed, which to Cahalan raises the question--was he hiding anything? Driven by her own traumatizing experience as a misdiagnosed psychiatric patient, Cahalan pours through Rosenhan's notes and lists of his known contacts, attempting to match real people to the study's unnamed subjects, and ultimately is unable to find proof that six out of the seven fake patients really existed. She also discovers the wholesale omission of a volunteer's account that contradicted Rosenhan's argument. Her impeccable inquiry into the shadowy reality of Rosenhan's study makes an urgent case that the psychological and psychiatric fields must recover the public trust that "Rosenhan helped shatter." Agent: Larry Weissman, Larry Weissman Literary. (Nov.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Rosenhan, David L.
Mental illness -- Diagnosis.
Mental illness -- Treatment.
Psychiatric hospital care -- United States -- Evaluation.
Mental health services -- United States.
Psychiatry -- Research.
Publisher New York :2019
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description xiii, 382 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 9781538715284
1538715287
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