Susannah Cahalan – The Great Pretender


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From “one of America’s most courageous young journalists” (NPR) comes a propulsive narrative history investigating the 50-year-old mystery behind a dramatic experiment that changed the course of modern medicine.

For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness – how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people – sane, normal, well-adjusted members of society – went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.

But, as Cahalan’s explosive new research shows, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

Author: Susannah Cahalan
Narrator: Christie Moreau, Susannah Cahalan
Duration: 11 hours 3 minutes
Released: 19 May 2011
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Language: English

User Review:

chieftain admiring

This is an interesting history of diagnosis and treatment of the seriously mentally ill. It doesnt emphasize enough what we already know: effective treatment occurs when you treat people with respect, dignity and compassion, as people and not as patients. We still struggle to provide treatment which isnt about the convenience of the staff but for the service of the people they are there to treat.