Book Cover of the Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Health and Psychology

The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness

Doctors have struggled for centuries to define insanity—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, healthy, 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. […Learn More]