On Being Sane In Insane Places

Category: Psychology
Author: Bendis

 Every day in psychiatric hospitals, some people come and begin to a treatment while some people end their treatment and leave. There is a great circulation of patients with various diagnosis. There is also trust and profession in the system which are circulated. But, are the criteria the best the psychiatrists rely on? Or, is the hospital stuff good at observing and sensitive enough to realize the changes? In 1973, Rosenhan questioned the quality of the services, border between being sane and being insane in terms of diagnosis made, and reactions of the stuff to “normal acts” with his experiment.

 To begin with, Rosenhan claimed that the psychiatrists don’t observe the pseudo patients well before diagnosing and accepting them to the hospital. Although the pseudo patients reported that they just hear some voices, the psychiatrists might consider the stressful experiences that make them want to be cured in the hospital. Also, when a patient comes with the problem of hallucinations, without diagnosing “schizophrenia” or “bipolar”, how can the program of treatment be planned? (L. Spitzer, 1975) So, though it is seen as the decision derived from careless generalization, most of the time it should be made as quick as possible to take an action.

 Furthermore, it is a striking result of the study that the educated stuff couldn’t realize that the pseudo patients are actually sane, but some of the real patients did. This may be because of many reasons. One of these, people diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’ don’t have to act schizophrenic constantly. Some of the times, they experience hallucinations very often, but, for instance, for 2 months, they might not experience nothing. Indeed, in hospital conditions, there might be decrease in hallucinations since patients may feel isolated and comfortable. Since educated stuff might probably keep this in mind, they are not sensitive to “normal behaviors” as real patients are. This is because there can be an expectancy about schizophrenic behaviors from the pseudo patients. The other reason for the “seemingly” ignorance of the hospital stuff may be the responsibility of decision coming from their observation. To erase the diagnosis ends the treatment. Then, it may end up with the return of the symptoms. So, even if the stuff observed sanity in their behaviors, they didn’t report the recovery before they were absolutely certain.

 To conclude, although Rosenhan make us question the concept of being insane, his some inferences are over generalized and manipulative. As we talked about in the class, I believe the psychological disorders form a spectrum. All of us are somewhere in this spectrum of any disorder.



Spitzer, R. L. (1975). On pseudoscience in science, logic in remission, and psychiatric diagnosis: A critique of Rosenhan's" On being sane in insane places".