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Outline the aims & context of Rosenhans (1973) study on being sane in insane places

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Outline the aims & context of Rosenhans (1973) study on being sane in insane places The first study examines what it means to be psychologically normal or abnormal - & the controversies surrounding both the definition & diagnosis of mental illness. According to Stratton & Hayes (1993) behaviour can be defined as that which deviates from the norm, does not conform to social demands & is maladaptive or painful to the individual. There is a long history of attempting to classify what is abnormal behaviour. The most commonly accepted approach to understanding * classifying abnormal behaviour in our society is known as the medical model (beginning in 1950s) ...read more.


The system states that schizophrenia is the most serious mental disorder & the whole debate surrounding the reliability & validity of the medical model has focussed on schizophrenia. In the 1960s a number of psychiatrists (known as anti-psychiatry movement) started to fiercely criticise the medical approach to abnormality. David Rosenhan was also a critic of the medical model & this study can be seen as an attempt to demonstrate that psychiatric classification is unreliable & invalid. He lead the movement which argued that diagnosis of abnormality was based less on the internal attributes of the patients (disposition) & more on the external environment & context in which they find themselves in (situation). ...read more.


Unless we can reliably differentiate the sane from insane, we cannot be sure that a particular diagnostic label such as schizophrenia, actually describes a patients mental disorder. In conducting this study Rosenhan was aiming to challenge people's assumptions about the dependability of diagnosis of abnormality & illustrate the negative effects of being diagnosed (labelled) as abnormal, & institutionalised on the basis of the diagnosis. The final two studies aimed to flesh out some of the issues raised by the first. He aimed to see whether the tendency for psychiatrists to err on the side of caution & diagnose healthy patients as insane could be reversed. (If the effect of the first study meant hospitals would stop admitting mad people) & how people were treated in hospitals ...read more.

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