What does the movie Shrek have to do with labeling, the DSM-V and the self-fulfilling prophecy? In this episode I take a close look at the well-known Rosenhan study. This was the study in which "pseudopatients" pretend to hear voices and on the basis of this they get admitted to psychiatric centers. Then they were told to act "normally". It took an average of 19 days for these "pseudopatients" to be discharged from the hospital and even then they were diagnosed as "schizophrenia in remission".
Does this study show that psychiatric diagnoses are not only useless but also possibly harmful? Or do we find what we found back in episode 47 on Little Albert, and what we found in episode 36 on Kitty Genovese – what we thought we knew is largely wrong.
“[The Rosenhan study is]…a prime example of extremely compelling writing in conjunction with remarkably sloppy reasoning.” – Scott Lilienfeld
…a careful examination of this study’s methods, results, and conclusions leads me to a diagnosis of “logic, in remission.” – Robert Spitzer
Resources on the Rosenhan Study
- Textbook fail: Rosenhan’s classic “On Being Sane In Insane Places” covered without criticism
- Rosenhan, D. (1973). On Being Sane in Insane Places. Science, 179, (70), 250-258.
- Diagnoses and the Behaviors They Denote: A Critical Evaluation of the Labeling Theory of Mental Illness John Ruscio, Department of Psychology, Elizabethtown College.
- Spitzer, L. (1975). On Pseudoscience in Science, Logic in Remission, and Psychiatric Diagnosis: A Critique of Rosenhan’s “On Being Sane
in Insane Places”. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 84 (5) 442-452.
- Weiner, B. (1975). “On Being Sane in Insane Places”: A Process (Attributional)
Analysis and Critique Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1975, 84(5), 433-441
- On Being Sane in Insane Places summarized in Wikipedia
Popular Press Articles on the Revision to the DSM
- DSM Revision Activities from the American Psychiatric Association