Science | Health

A Psychologist Faked Hallucinations To Test A Mental Hospital, But Then They Wouldn't Let Him Leave

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In the early 1970s, Dr. David Rosenhan, a psychiatrist and Stanford University professor conducted a risky experiment to determine the validity of psychiatric diagnoses. He had healthy people (aka pseudo-patients) fake hallucinations in order to be admitted to several different mental health facilities across the United States. Once admitted the "patients" would begin to act completely normal, telling the doctors and nurses that they were fine and that they wanted to go home.    

A scene from American Horror Story Asylum

...they faked auditory hallucinations in order to gain entry into psychiatric hospitals...

The writing is on the wall

Rosenhan published the results from the first part of his study in the peer-reviewed journal, Science in 1973, the study had been titled, On being sane in insane places. The results of his experiment were polarizing; eight completely normal individuals (three women and five men, including Rosenhan himself) attempted to gain entry into 12 different hospitals across five different states under various guises. The truly terrifying aspect, they were all admitted and diagnosed with various psychotic illnesses.

They were forced to admit that they had a mental illness and had to agree to take drugs before being released

In what sounds more like a prison story than a psychiatric hospital, the pseudo-patients were forced to admit that they had mental issues, and had to agree to start taking anti-psychotic drugs before they would be allowed to leave. On average, each one of these completely healthy people were forced to stay for at least 19 days in any of the given psychiatric institutions, and all of them, with the exception of one individual, was "diagnosed" with schizophrenia (in remission) before walking out the hospital doors.

The hallway to nowhere.

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