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

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

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?

Title:The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness
Edition Language:English

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

  • Susannah

    A writer friend always rates her own books. She explained that if she doesn’t love her own book enough to give it five stars, how can she expect anyone else to do the same? I like this mentality so ...

  • Julie Ehlers

    Back in the early 1970s, Dr. David Rosenhan published the results of a study wherein he and several other people (so-called “pseudopatients”), none of whom had ever had mental health issues, attem...

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    Have read Susannah Cahalan’s deeply personal memoir, Brain on Fire? She has followed-up that best-selling book with The Great Pretender, which exposes the suspenseful mystery behind an experiment th...

  • Nenia ?? Queen of Villainy ?? Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestI was so excited to read this book because I loved her first book, BRAIN ON FIRE, which was her own journalism-style memoir chronicling her e...

  • Book of the Month

    Why I love itby Maris KreizmanSusannah Cahalan was not okay. Over the course of a month she went from being a fully functioning young reporter to suffering from psychosis and hallucinations, a step aw...

  • D

    Very disappointing. This book is rather poorly written and its approach is exceedingly scattered. In my opinion, the author is not really qualified by either education or experience to write about the...

  • Jenna Bookish

    If you’re going into this book expecting an in-depth rehashing of the Rosenhan experiment and its conclusions, you may be disappointed. I hold a BA in psychology, so I was already somewhat familiar ...

  • Sierra Smith

    I love non-fiction. I love psychology. I thought I was going to love this book. I was wrong.I hate that I found this book so very disappointing. The author states the book is about Rosenhan and his ps...

  • Krystin Rachel

    Book Blog | BookstagramOpening Thesis: Everyone needs drugsMain Diagnosis: SCHIZOPHRENIAPlot Researchy-ness: Up to your eyeballs in straight FACTSBefore you go into reading this book, you must first u...

  • Ashley

    When I read Brain on Fire, Susannah Cahalan's memoir about her experience with psychosis, I became a little obsessed with it. (The Netflix adaptation was disappointing, as the clever hook in the book ...