Rosenhan experiment and the validity of psychiatric diagnosis

The Rosenhan experiment or Thud experiment was an experiment conducted to determine the validity of psychiatric diagnosis. The experimenters feigned hallucinations to enter psychiatric hospitals, and acted normally afterwards. They were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and were given antipsychotic drugs.

Any diagnostic process that lends itself too readily to massive errors of this sort cannot be a reliable one.

The experts correctly diagnosed 2 of 10 patients, misdiagnosed 1 patient, and incorrectly identified 2 healthy patients as having mental health problems. Unlike the other experiments listed here, the aim of this experiment was not to criticize the diagnostic process, but to minimize the stigmatization of the mentally ill. It aimed to illustrate that people with a previous diagnosis of a mental illness could live normal lives with their health problems, not obvious to observers from their behavior.

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