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The Great Pretender von Susannah Cahalan
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The Great Pretender (2020. Auflage)

von Susannah Cahalan (Autor)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
4291446,419 (3.7)20
From "one of America's most courageous young journalists" (NPR) comes a propulsive narrative history investigating the 50-year-old mystery behind a dramatic experiment that changed the course of modern medicine. For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness--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, normal, 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, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?… (mehr)
Mitglied:dominicecchini
Titel:The Great Pretender
Autoren:Susannah Cahalan (Autor)
Info:Grand Central Publishing (2020), Edition: Illustrated, 418 pages
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The Great Pretender von Susannah Cahalan

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In the early 1970s, David Rosenhan, a psychology professor at Stanford, published an article in Science about being able to fake being mentally ill and get admitted to mental hospitals. The article was enormously influential--I learned about it in psychology classes decades later. But Rosenhan never built on his work.

It turns out that the story of that study is a lot more complicated than Rosenhan ever let on, and Cahalan does an interesting job of trying to track down all the paths--some with more success than others. I won't go into more details here because it was fun seeing it unspool, and I don't want to spoil it.

In between is sandwiched some background on mental hospitals, and the long term impact of Rosenhan's work--which came at the same time that the antipsychiatry movement was ascendant and contributed to major changes in both mental hospitals and the process of psychiatric diagnosis. This is interesting, but since it's been extensively covered elsewhere, is less compelling than the original research. It gets a little bit messy and overly general, but is nonetheless interesting.

Cahalan is a journalist, not a psychologist, which is an asset when it comes to approaching Rosenhan's work as a kind of detective story. It's well told and engaging and her experience as a layperson makes her well suited to translating the details. The sections on the development of diagnosis and the DSM are a bit less gripping--there are many interesting philosophical questions raised by the process of diagnosis, but it's not the time to get into it. To her credit she doesn't try to delve too deeply; she's trying to strike a balance between providing enough context to understand Rosenhan's work and getting too far into another topic. Overall she does a good job with it; a little bit of editing might have smoothed it out, but I can't argue too much. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
The author of this book was previously ""violent, paranoid and delusional" but her problems turned out to be caused by autoimmune encephalitis. She was cured and became interested in psychiatry.

Psychiatrist David Rosenhan presented the thesis that psychiatry had no reliable way of distinguishing the sane from the insane. Eight people, Rosenhan himself and seven others, volunteered to go undercover in twelve institutions (how could they do that?) on the East and West Coasts of the USA and present with the same limited symptoms. They would tell the doctors that they heard voices that said "thud, empty, hollow".

The study tested whether or not the institutions admitted these sane individuals.

All these "pseudopatients" were diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, in all cases but one, with schizophrenia; in the remaining case the diagnosis being manic depression.

The length of hospitalization ranged from seven to fifty-two days with an average of nineteen days.

Once inside the institution it was up to themselves to get out.

We get the stories of the various pseudopatients including Rosenhan's, though as far as I recall, Rosenhan didn't quite follow the rules in some way.

There's a chapter entitled "Only the insane knew who was sane", which was accurate - interesting!

There was a disturbing chapter about John Kennedy's sister Rosemary, though it was not really relevant to the subject on hand.

The book is well-written and I found the first half absorbing, but towards the end it became a bit complicated and I couldn't keep on with it. ( )
  IonaS | May 7, 2021 |
this is absolutely fascinating, and cahalan writes this in an engaging and compelling way. i was riveted, almost from the first paragraph, and there is nary a lull in the entire book. both the story of david rosenhan's study where "pseudo-patients" went undercover into psych wards, and the revealing of that study as possibly fraudulent, were so interesting and well described. i was so engrossed the entire time.

"There are, at last count in 2014, nearly 10 times more seriously mentally ill people who live behind bars than in psychiatric hospitals. The largest concentration of the seriously mentally ill resides in Los Angeles County, New York's Riker's Island, and Chicago's Cook County, jails that are in many ways now defacto asylums."

"'The big fat manual that is the DSM should be condensed to not more than 10 diagnoses,' Dr. van Os told me. Umbrella terms, like psychosis syndrome and anxiety syndrome, with gradients of symptoms, he argues." ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Apr 13, 2021 |
I just finished The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan and IT WAS SO GOOD. I don't know why I am surprised by how much I truly enjoy reading an excellent nonfiction book but it's always such a delight especially when they're as engrossing as this one. You might recognize Susannah Cahalan as the author of Brain On Fire about her experiences being misdiagnosed with psychosis (for a MONTH) before a doctor determined it was actually autoimmune encephalitis. From that experience, Cahalan became a kind of spokesperson for this disease as well as an advocate for a more nuanced and structured diagnostic process. She learns about a well-known study conducted in the early 70s by David Rosenhan which explored the (pseudo)science of psychiatric diagnosis and the environment of psychiatric hospitals. And thus her passion was truly ignited as she worked to track down as much information about this study as possible. The explosive (and controversial) results of this landmark study had a profound effect on the field of psychiatry and how we view and treat mental illness in the United States. Cahalan gives a comprehensive overview of psychiatry and her journey to uncover the identities of those that participated in the original study. The end result was this book which I frankly keep raving about to anyone who will stop long enough to listen to me. Go forth, dear reader! 10/10 ( )
  AliceaP | Mar 16, 2021 |
Author [[Susannah Cahalan]] is known for her previous book [Brain on Fire] in which she was diagnosed as having schizophrenia, when in reality, she had an autoimmune disease affecting her brain.

This led her to think about mental health diagnoses in general, and the lines between sane and insane.

She became interested in a study from the 1970’s called “On Being Sane in Insane Places” . It was authored by David Rosenhan and published in Science, one of the most prestigious scientific journals. He and seven other sane people were admitted into psychiatric institutions where they had to stay until they were certified sane and released.

This study has direct consequences, including the release of the DSM 3 which attempted to scientifically categorize mental health issues. It also led to many previously hospitalized patients being released, often to the streets.

It’s been a standard of psychiatry texts for years, but unfortunately, as Cahalan dug into the study, she was unable to prove that most of the eight people actually existed, or that more than just a couple people took part in the experiment. Numbers appeared to have been cooked; author Rosenham never completed a book on the subject, and very rarely referred to this career-making study in his later work.

Was the study that led to a sea change in the field of psychiatry all a hoax? ( )
  streamsong | Mar 7, 2021 |
The Great Pretender (Canongate) was also inspired by a personal story. Its author, Susannah Cahalan, was diagnosed as having schizophrenia and almost got lost in the mental health system, until a persistent doctor found a physical diagnosis for her condition and she was cured. Her subsequent questioning of the division between "mental" and "physical" illness led her to uncover a famous study from 1973, in which a group of mentally healthy researchers presented themselves at psychiatric hospitals, complaining they could hear voices, and were diagnosed as having serious psychiatric illnesses. The experiment rocked the world of psychiatry, but Cahalan's research suggests that all was not as it seemed. The book is a fantastic scoop, a fascinating history of psychiatry and a powerful argument for why science is often about challenging accepted wisdom.
hinzugefügt von Cynfelyn | bearbeitenThe G, Katy Guest (Nov 28, 2020)
 
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From "one of America's most courageous young journalists" (NPR) comes a propulsive narrative history investigating the 50-year-old mystery behind a dramatic experiment that changed the course of modern medicine. For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness--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, normal, 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, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?

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