On Being Sane in Insane Places

The FDA warns that you may not remove the label .

Can we really tell the sane from the insane? David L. Rosenhan decided to find out the answer to this very question in an experiment he conducted that required 8 of his students to check themselves into a mental ward without telling a single person that they were there for study and observation. These students spent anywhere from 1-7 weeks after they were accessed by psychologists and labeled with various mental illness prognosis after a guesstimated average of just 9 seconds of observation to decide their fate. As the experiment went on, Rosenhan had to legally fight for some of his students to be released. Once admitted, the institutions were labeling their behaviors for every little action (normal actions) and creating permanent charts that would wrongfully label them as insane. As if it wasn’t intimidating enough to even agree to the study, once inside the institutions, the environment and surroundings were even more intimidating with no way out. The study group had practiced their roles prior to admission to guide them in actions as well as learning how to hide any medications given so nothing could alter their state of mind. Keep in mind that these students were perfectly sane, but as they presented themselves as if they were hearing voices in their head. Then, once inside, they would go back to their normal behavior and tell officials that the voices had silenced. This didn’t stop the labels from being thrown and every single one were diagnosed as being insane. The two goals in this experiment, one of which learning as to whether or not psychiatric labels would be used appropriately The field experiment used the independent variable of the lack of symptoms and the dependent variable being the responses of the staff. The second goals were to get a reliable study of what exactly it’s like to be a psychiatric patient in an insane asylum. Despite the reputable institutions and remarkable staff, not of the acts were detected by the staff. Not only was the act not detected, but the staff actually believed that the students were insane, even when behaving in sane manners. This study has proven both the efectivness and the damge that labels can permanently cause an individual.

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