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Monitoring a person's psychological health

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2 months ago

Do you remember the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? It tells the story of a man who tries to escape from prison by pretending to have a psychological disorder. While watching the movie, you may have difficulty understanding which of the characters have symptoms of psychological disorder and which do not. Don't worry, you are not alone. We know that psychological health is equally important as physical health. But how well does the mechanism that decides whether there is a disruption in our psychological health work?

David Rosenhan was a scientist who sought to answer these very questions. Before we get to his research, let's get to know him. Rosenhan received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Yeshiva University. He then earned a master's degree in economics, also from Yeshiva University. He then received his doctorate in psychology from Colombia University. From 1971 until his retirement, he was a professor of psychology at Stanford University.

In his article "On Being Sane In Insane Places", Rosenhan wanted to investigate how accurate psychiatric diagnoses are. In the study, 8 voluntary participants (pseudo-participants), including a psychology graduate student, a psychologist, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a painter and an unemployed woman, applied to the psychiatric wards of 12 different hospitals in the city where the study was conducted with the complaint of "hearing voices". Seven of the eight participants were diagnosed with schizophrenia and one with bipolar disorder and were hospitalized for an average of 19 days. After hospitalization, it was realized by other real patients that they were not actually ill, but it was very difficult for them to be discharged from the hospital, even though they never mentioned the complaint after hospitalization.

Rosenhan's results caused great controversy in the psychiatric community. In fact, psychiatric clinics in the country heavily criticized the results of the study, claiming that they would not make this mistake like other hospitals. One hospital administration even offered Rosenhan to send fake patients to their hospital without prior notice. Rosenhan accepts this offer. For the next 3 months, the hospital thought that 41 out of 193 psychiatric patients admitted to the hospital were fake patients. Interestingly, however, Rosenhan did not send any fake patients to the hospital for 3 months.

Very important critical articles have also been published about this study, which has had very alarming findings. On the other hand, this study has gained an important place in the psychology literature about the fact that clinical training and experience can have an impact on clinical judgments and can create a kind of clinical bias. Thanks to this research, diagnostic criteria were revised, interviews were structured, conditions in psychiatric hospitals were improved and scientific research on the subject gained momentum. Considering the inhumane conditions of psychiatric hospitals in the past, perhaps we can better understand the importance of this study. Take good care of yourself, your body and your mind.

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