Tag Archives: Rosenhan

The Problem With ‘Insight’

  Oh I wanna walk with Christ my savior                                                                                 For he’s the one that’ll guide me on                                                                                               All through my life I’ve been a sinner                                                                                 Now I’m right with God so I’m travelling home.”       Bill Monroe, River of Death

In the early 1970s the psychologist David Rosenhan carried out an experiment to determine the validity of contemporary psychiatric diagnoses and practices. He and seven associates  gained “secret admission to 12 different hospitals” (Rosenhan, 1973) complaining of the single (and fabricated) symptom that they had been hearing a voice which seemed to pronounce the words ‘empty’, ‘hollow’ and ‘thud’.

However being discharged proved much harder; despite the fact that after admission they were instructed to say that the voice had disappeared, length of hospital stay ranged from 7 to 52 days. His ‘patients’ soon found that the only way to be released was to agree with the psychiatrists’ judgement: to admit that they were in fact ill, and agree to co-operate with them in order to get “better”. Continue reading