February 01, 2004

I hear a voice Interesting duplication of a notorious experiment in psychiatry, raising questions scientific, social and epistemological.
  • The article definitely rings true in many ways. It's good to keep in mind how little we know about things. It's too easy to hurt when you're trying to help, otherwise.
  • This writer's experience shows the dark side of such (mal)admissions.
  • Great link. Thanks.
  • Malcolm Gladwell makes interesting use of the Rosenhan experiment in this article, illustrating the way that research in one field can have unexpected ramifications in another.
  • Thanks Wolof. Fascinating stuff. There are few nightmares worse than to be held and misdiagnosed as insane, so it's interesting to see how results have changed over the years to prescriptions. Whilst these results may support the view that doctors are perhaps too ready to proscribe medication, I feel some sympathy for the psychologists. I agree that these results may only show that the system can be abused by those who deliberately seek to abuse it, rather than some innocent being misdiagnosed in such a way. Obviously, the case of Janet Frame shows that there are cases in which this can happen, but determining a way to detect and prevent this in such an uncertain field is extremely difficult.
  • He said in the next three months he would send an undisclosed number of pseudopatients to this particular hospital, and the staff were to judge...who was sane... At the end of three months, the hospital staff reported to Rosenhan that they had detected...41 of Rosenhan's pseudopatients. Rosenhan had, in fact, sent none. Although the entire article is disturbing in itself, this bothered me the most. Because the doctors at this facility were so caught up in their own self-importance as psychologists, they sent away people who might have been genuinely unwell. I agree that psychologists today have a tendency to prescribe when it may not be necessary. I've have had an ongoing discussion with friends about whether children are being misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD in scenarios just like the author describes. I believe there are cases where, having nothing better to suggest, or not wanting to say that the child is just a normal kid, they offer Ritalin and give peace of mind to the parents by implying that it's not bad parenting; their child is genuinely broken and needs to be fixed.