Psychiatrists fooled again



Interesting story on,3605,1134105,00.html


Thirty years ago psychiatry was rocked by the revelation that nine sane volunteers had faked hearing
voices and fooled thier way on to locked wards. Has diagnosis improved since? Psychologist Lauren
Slater repeats the experiment The pseudopatients were to present themselves and say words along
these lines: "I am hearing a voice. It is saying thud." Rosenhan specifically chose this complaint
because nowhere in psychiatric literature are there any reports of any person hearing a voice that
contains such obvious cartoon angst. Upon further questioning, the eight pseudopatients were to
answer honestly, save for name and occupation. They were to feign no other symptoms. The strange
thing was, the other patients seemed to know that Rosenhan was normal, even while the doctors did
not. One young man, coming up to Rosenhan in the dayroom, said "You're not crazy. You're a
journalist or a professor." Another said, "You're checking up on the hospital."

Rosenhan followed all orders while in hospital, asked for privileges, helped other patients to deal
with their problems, offered legal advice, probably played his fair share of ping pong, and took
copious notes, which the staff labelled as "writing behaviour" and saw as part of his paranoid
schizophrenic diagnosis. And then one day, for a reason as arbitrary as his admission, he was

Rosenhan's paper describing his findings, On Being Sane In Insane Places, was published in Science,
where it burst like a bomb on the world of psychiatry. ... "I look depressed?" I echo. This actually
worries me, because depression hits closer to home. I've had it before and, who knows, maybe I'm
getting it again and he sees it before I do. He writes out my prescriptions. The entire interview
takes less than 10 minutes. I am out of there in time to eat Chinese with the real Lucy Schellman,
who says, "You should've said 'thwack' instead of 'thud', or 'bam bam'. It's even funnier." Later
on, I fill my prescriptions at the all-night pharmacy. And then, in the spirit of experimentation, I
take the antipsychotic Risperdal, just one little pill, and I fall into such a deep, charcoal sleep
that not a sound comes through, and I float, weightless, in another world, seeing vague shapes -
trees, rabbits, a