Who’s Crazy Here Anyway? By: D. L. Rosenhan Presented by: Amy Chicos

Who’s Crazy Here Anyway?
By: D. L. Rosenhan
Presented by:
Amy Chicos
Craig Shadden
Ashley Ferin
Angie Flowers
Stacey Wall
Jackie Jensen
The question of how to discriminate
between normal and abnormal behavior is
fundamental in psychology
Definition of abnormality key in determining
whether or not someone is mentally ill and
largely determines treatment.
Criteria used to determine
abnormal behavior
Bizarreness of Behavior
This can be a subjective judgment but some
behaviors are obviously bizarre.
Ex. Washing your car while it is raining
Criteria cont.
Persistence of Behavior
Abnormal behavior may be exhibited
occasionally, however to be considered
mental illness it needs to occur on a regular
basis over time.
Ex. Dancing down the street every day
Criteria Cont.
Social Deviance
When a person’s behavior radically violates
the expected norms of society.
Ex. Thinking you see a large penguin when
there isn’t one present.
Criteria Cont.
Subjective Distress
When a person is aware of their own
psychological difficulties. This can be very
helpful to mental health professionals when
making a psychological diagnosis.
Ex. When somebody is aware of their fear of
Criteria Cont.
Psychological Handicap
When a person finds it impossible to be
satisfied with life due to psychological
Ex. A person who fears success sabotages
each new endeavor in life.
Criteria Cont.
Effect on Functioning
The extent to which the behavior affects the
person’s ability to live the life that he/she
Ex. While it may be weird to stand on your
bed every night and sing the National
Anthem, it isn’t considered abnormal unless it
has some negative effect.
Rosenhan, D.L. (1973) Study
David Rosenhan’s purpose was to
question the ability of mental health
professionals to truly distinguish between
mentally ill and mentally healthy people.
He also wanted to explore the
consequences of inaccurate diagnoses.
Rosenhan enlisted eight subjects to serve
as pseudopatients.
3 women, 5 men
1 graduate student, 3 psychologists, 1
pediatrician, 1 psychiatrist, 1 painter, and 1
Method, Cont.
The subject’s mission was to present
themselves for admission to 12 psychological
hospitals in the United States.
They would complain of hearing voices that said
“empty,” “hollow,” and “thud.”
They acted completely normal otherwise.
All but one person was admitted with
Once in the hospital they acted normal.
Length of hospital stay for the pseudopatients
ranged from 7 days to 52 days with an average
of 19 days.
Key finding: not one of the pseudopatients was
detected by anyone on the hospital staff.
35 of 118 real patients in the hospitals realized
the pseudopatients were faking their illness.
This study demonstrated that normal
people cannot be distinguished from the
mentally ill in a hospital setting.
This is because of the influence of the
hospital setting on the staff’s judgment of
the patient’s behavior.
Significance of Findings
It appeared that the sane could not be
distinguished from the insane in hospital
“The hospital itself imposes a special
environment in which the meaning of behavior
can be easily misunderstood. The
consequences to patients hospitalized in such
an environment…seem undoubtedly
Significance cont.
Danger of diagnostic labels
Once a person is labeled as having a certain
illness they are treated differently.
All behavior and personality is then seen as
stemming from the disorder.
This can also become self-confirming.
Main Critic: Spitzer
Argued that Rosenhan’s methods didn’t
actually invalidate psychological diagnostic
Not difficult for pseudopatients to lie their way
into a mental hospital.
Admissions are usually based on verbal reports.
Symptom variation is normal once admitted.
Do you think that labels for mentally ill people
should be completely eliminated? Why or why
Have you or anyone you know ever treated
anyone differently based on their “label”?
Do you think the labels applied to people
become part of their central characteristic or
personality trait?
Would you ever volunteer to do a study like this?