Psychiatry-Influence of Labeling

Rosenhan, D. L.
June 1973
Journal of Learning Disabilities;Jun/Jul1973, Vol. 6 Issue 6, p366
Academic Journal
This article presents information on psychiatry. Based in part on theoretical and anthropological considerations, but also on philosophical, legal, and therapeutic ones, the view has grown that psychological categorization of mental illness is useless at best and downright harmful, misleading, and pejorative at worst. Psychiatric diagnoses, in this view, are in the minds of the observers and are not valid summaries of characteristics displayed by the observed. Research by D. Rosenhan, professor of psychology and law at Stanford University, was, aimed at clarifying which of the above viewpoints is more accurate. Normal people were admitted to psychiatric hospitals and it was then to be determined whether they would be discovered to be sane and, if so, how. If such pseudopatients were always detected, there would be prima facie evidence that a sane individual can be distinguished from the insane context in which he is found. Normality is distinct enough that it can be recognized wherever it occurs, for it is carried within the person.


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