'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

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Sean Hayden
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'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

Post by Sean Hayden » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:00 pm

"On Being Sane in Insane Places" was the result of a study in which eight people without mental illness got themselves admitted to psychiatric institutions — Rosenhan wanted to see whether mental health professionals could actually distinguish between psychologically well people and those with mental illnesses.

They could not, Rosenhan claimed. All of the "pseudopatients" were diagnosed with illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and remained in the hospitals for several days. As journalist Susannah Cahalan writes in her fascinating new book, The Great Pretender, Rosenhan's study had an outsized effect on psychiatry; it was "cited to further movements as disparate as the biocentric model of mental illness, deinstitutionalization, anti-psychiatry, and the push for mental health patient rights." The study was undoubtedly influential. Unfortunately, Cahalan claims, it was also likely fatally flawed.
...
Cahalan interviews two of the "pseudopatients" and realizes that their stories don't quite match Rosenhan's claims. One of the volunteers reported compassionate treatment by hospital staff, so Rosenhan decided to exclude him from the study altogether: "Harry's data ... didn't match Rosenhan's thesis that institutions are uncaring, ineffective, and even harmful places, and so they were discarded." As for the other volunteers, Cahalan finds herself unable to track them down despite dogged efforts — she concludes there's a strong possibility they didn't actually exist.
https://www.npr.org/2019/11/04/77603617 ... ane-places
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Re: 'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

Post by JimC » Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:01 pm

You'd have to be crazy to fake a study into psychiatry... :tea:
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Re: 'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

Post by Brian Peacock » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:45 am

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Re: 'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

Post by Sean Hayden » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:49 am

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Re: 'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

Post by Sean Hayden » Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:02 am

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Re: 'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

Post by Sean Hayden » Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:23 am

Let's assume it's bullshit. Why didn't anyone act on their suspicions before now?

Is it really just a case of not wanting to be the guy to side with the evil institutions?

Maybe it's too much work and nobody cares. But it really has been cited all over the place...
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Re: 'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

Post by Svartalf » Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:27 am

Of course it's woo... I once spent a fortnight in an institution... I did not receive any treatment I could or would not have taken at home. I suspect my shrink just wanted to keep me away from the bottle, but that was only moderately successful, as it was not that difficult to play hooky and go into town for a glass or two.
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Re: 'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

Post by Brian Peacock » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:51 am

Sean Hayden wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:23 am
Let's assume it's bullshit. Why didn't anyone act on their suspicions before now?

Is it really just a case of not wanting to be the guy to side with the evil institutions?

Maybe it's too much work and nobody cares. But it really has been cited all over the place...
I guess the paper looked legit, the methodologies looked sound for the time, and the professor gave good symposium. And it's a hard one to reproduce, a bit like the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments, which have also been discredited now for similar reasons.
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Clinton Huxley » 21 Jun 2012 » 14:10:36 GMT
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Re: 'On Being Sane In Insane Places' is bullshit?

Post by Sean Hayden » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:31 pm

It is possible he was called out sooner, and a brief search does turn up early criticisms. The problem could really just be with people who continue to unquestioningly cite the research in their discussions and arguments. I think I first encountered it either in an online discussion or in The Moral Landscape by Harris. I don't recall if he questioned its veracity.

Now that you mention the Prison Experiment I think I've seen it plastered all over skeptic boards too.

Another interesting target may be the Dunning-Kruger effect. More for how it is used perhaps than the study's integrity.
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