Rosenhan Study (pseudopatients)

What were the two aims of this study?
1. To determine if sanity and insanity are distinguishable by current standards of diagnosis
2. To examine and investigate the conditions and procedures inside mental hospitals
Describe the subjects of study one.
– Eight pseudopatients
– One was a student in his 20’s, the other seven were older and “established”
– Five men, three women
– Three were psychologists
– One was a pediatrician
– One was a psychiatrist
– One was a painter
– The final was a housewife
– Upon admittance, all patient careers and lives were represented accurately, except in cases of mental health professionals
– Those in mental health professions gave a fake career to avoid any special attention
What was the design and procedure for study one?
– Study one was a field experiment
– Eight patients went to twelve hospitals in five states
– All patients scheduled appointments and told doctors they heard voices saying “empty,” “hollow,” and “thud”
– To increase the look of insanity, all participants stopped showering and shaving five days prior to the appointments
– Upon admittance, all symptoms were dropped and patients indicated that they felt fine to staff
What are the results of study one?
– Despite the show of sanity, all patients were admitted with schizophrenia and released with schizophrenia in remission
– Stays ranged from seven to fifty-two days, a mean stay of nineteen days
– Interaction with staff was limited to about six minutes a day
Describe the subjects in study two.
– There are no true subjects for study two as it was a “fake” study
– It could be argued that the legitimate mental patients being rated by staff were all subjects
– one hundred and ninety-three patients were individualy rated for insanity by staff
What was the design and procedure for study two?
– A mental hospital staff caught wind of Rosenhan’s original study and believed it could never work at their hospital
– Rosenhan informed the staff that he would send at least one pseudopatient in the following three months
– no actual pseudopatient was sent
– This resulted in the staff rating, and double rating, each admitted patient to try and find the fake
What were the results of study two?
– Forty-one patients were alleged, with high confidence, of being pseudopatients by at least one staff member
– Twenty-three were considered suspect by at least one psychiatrist
– Nineteen were considered suspect by at least one staff member and one psychiatrist
– This apparently shows how difficult it is to detect sanity and insanity