Exam-Style Questions: Rosenhan
1. In Rosenhan’s study “sane in insane places” the terms “type 1” and “type 2” errors were used. a) A “type 2” error is referred to as a false positive, where a healthy person is wrongly diagnosed with a sickness. In Rosenhan’s study, pseudopatients were misdiagnosed with schizophrenia when there was nothing wrong with them at all. b) The reason why healthy professionals made type 2 errors in the original diagnosis of pseudopatients was because doctors have a strong bias towards the type 2 error. It is more dangerous to misdiagnose illness than health, as they would rather err on the side of caution.
2. In the study by Rosenhan pseudopatients were admitted to mental hospitals. a) One of the pseudopatients’ behaviours which were taken as evidence of abnormality was when they sat outside the cafeteria half an hour before lunchtime. Another behaviour which was taken as evidence of abnormality was when they wrote in their journals. b) It is difficult to define abnormality and normality because they have different meanings in different cultures. Something that may be considered normal in one culture may seem completely abnormal in another culture. Also, in some situations, an individual may appear sane and in another may appear insane.
3. Rosenhan (sane in insane places) suggested mental patients experienced powerlessness and depersonalisation. a) Two examples of powerlessness and depersonalisation in Rosenhan’s study was the fact that the staff treated the patients with very little respect and gave them hardly any privacy. For example, they were punished for minor incidents and they had no doors on their toilets. b) One possible explanation for the behaviour of staff in this study could be regarding staff shortages and the lack of money in the mental hospitals. Also the use of psychotropic drugs could contribute to the behaviour of the staff as they may believe that the patients are being treated through the drugs and therefore any patient contact is not necessary.
4. Rosenhan used the phrase “stickiness of psychodiagnostic labels”. a) When Rosenhan said “stickiness of psychodiagnostic labels” he meant that when a person is labelled as “abnormal”, it sticks with them for a very long time. All subsequent information about them will be interpreted in that light. Labels are self-fulfilling for psychiatrists and for the patients themselves. b) One example of how the label “schizophrenic” affected the way pseudopatient’s behaviour was interpreted by staff was when one pseudopatient who described a warm relationship with his mother but distant one with his father, and good relationships with his wife and children apart from occasional angry exchanges, was described by a psychiatrist as “manifests a long history of considerable ambivalence in close relationships, which begins in early childhood”.
5. In the study by Rosenhan, the pseudopatients were incorrectly diagnosed as schizophrenic. One possible explanation why the hospital made this mistake could be because doctors have a strong bias towards the type 2 error. This is diagnosing a healthy person as sick than a sick person healthy. It is more dangerous to misdiagnose illness than health, as they would rather be on the safe side of caution. Another possible explanation could be because the words the patients used have not been noted down before and the hospital wanted to keep them and dig deeper into it. Furthermore, the pseudopatients said that they could hear voices and this is a big symptom of schizophrenia.
6. One independent variable which was tested in Rosenhan’s study of “sane in insane places” was the fake symptoms that the pseudopatients made up. The effect of this variable was that all pseudopatients except one were admitted to the mental hospital and diagnosed as schizophrenic. The pseudopatients were eventually discharged with the label “schizophrenia in remission”. A...
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