Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Neener Neener Neener

For a long time I've said that a major problem with therapists -- from high school counselors to psychoanalysts -- is that they see abnormal behavior in everything.

That's because they're trained to define behavior in terms of craziness. They aren't trained to see normal. Normal isn't their business. Crazy is.

This extends beyond their professional lives and messes with their personal lives. As the child of a therapist I've seen it mess with my personal life.

Many people mistakenly think that therapists can raise children better than regular folks. No they can't. They have no idea how to create a normal child any more than the rest of us. But they're great at blaming messed up kids on poor parenting, especially moms. 

Needless to say, they can screw up just like regular people. Heck, I've lost track of the number of times I've heard someone insist that a shrink's kids are the craziest of all. What's that old saying about the cobbler's children going without shoes? 

Which brings me to an experiment I just heard about that may prove I was on to something. I can't believe I didn't know about this experiment. It is so wonderful.

Back in the late sixties and early seventies a psychologist named Rosenhan at Stanford decided to see if he and a bunch of other people who were normal, i.e., no history of mental illness, could get admitted to some psych hospitals by claiming they heard voices that said three words, "empty", "hollow" and "thud."

After they were admitted -- and all were admitted -- they were told to say they felt fine and then act normal the rest of the time. There were twelve hospitals in five states involved in this study by the way.

Apparently only the people in the loony bins could tell that the fake patients weren't really crazy, but the shrinks who admitted them never had a clue.

I remember when someone I knew wasn't happy that she was expected to help her family get packed for a big move, so she had her shrink admit her to the hospital until they were finished packing. I went to visit her on the psych ward and she was on a major dose of Thorazine that made her a zombie. The only thing wrong was that she was just a lazy ass teenager.

The fake patients were in the hospital for an average of 19 days -- most with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia or bi-polar disease. They stayed until the doctors said they could go.

Unfortunately when the patients were discharged, their diagnoses didn't revert back to normal -- they were now called schizophrenics "in remission."  That's scary.

Not one doctor in the study hospitals was able to spot normal.

Then there was a follow up experiment. One hospital that wasn't part of the first experiment claimed they wouldn't be duped by fake patients.  So Rosenhan told them he would be sending a bunch of fakes who would try to be admitted. 

Their crack staff said "GOTCHA" and claimed that almost half of the patients that showed up were fake. So there, Dr. Rosenhan -- we're much better than those other hospitals.

Except that NO fake patients had been sent to them.

Here's one of my favorite parts about the study as it was reported in Wikipedia -- "During their stay, hospital notes indicated that staff interpreted much of the pseudopatient's behaviour in terms of mental illness. For example, the note-taking of one individual was listed as "writing behaviour" and considered pathological."

All they had to do was ask me. I coulda told them that would happen. 

Haaaaaaaaaa.  You can read all about it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment

8 comments:

lanurseprn said...

OMG this is interesting!
Pam

screaminremo303 said...

Everytime I "help" someone who is diagnosed as bi-polar the first thing I do is count the number of med's they're on. Then I ask them if they felt better before they started taking their medicine. Then I tell them it would be cheaper to write a journal or run for Congress and I leave.

Bi-polar is the new OCD, which used to be known as "fastidious.'

psychfun said...

Well first Wikipedia is not known to be the great source but this is perfect on how you described this study. Do remember it was done in the 60s. This is why we have to repeat info. This would be analogous to us saying, Oh well you were like this in your 20s so you should be like this in your 40s....ahhhh not necessarily! And as far as psychologists (trist) with their own kids, well you first have to remember there are many theories of psychology so no they would not subscribe to all...just like no medical doctor may have the healthiest children, or a lawyers kids is the most lawful. The question is should be expect them to be at a higher standard? Why? Many psychological problems (if you use the strict definition of 'crazy') Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar etc have an organic basis so this is genes that are passed on & not necessarily anything to do with the way they were raised.

jevanslink said...

     The Rosenhan experiment was done from 1969 through 1972.  Wikipedia is criticized for having a liberal bias.  Fine by me.

     Studying psychology won't help anyone raise their children better. It just makes them aware of abnormal behavior. Especially in rats.

     In my opinion, the model of NORMAL emotional development described by the Freudians was in part based on pathology. But that's a whole nother argument.

     As for as a genetic cause for mental illness -- nature may cause a propensity, but nuture flips the switch for the most part.  

     Mrs. L

mombzbe said...

I hear voices.
All day, and sometimes at night, telling me to do their bidding, all in the name of this lady called "Mom".  

The only medication effective enough to curb these voices is a huge shot of tequila.
Wait, that's what got me into this predicament....
Anna
P.S.  "...nurture flipped the switch" ----that's a good way to put it, Mrs. L.  I may have to steal it the next time someone at work is going on about nature.  :)

ladeeoftheworld said...

3 days a week I sit in a case management meeting with therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists as we diagnose incoming clients.  If you somehow made it this far, to have contact with the mental health system, you WILL have a permanent  psychiatric diagnosis........ forever.  

I love the little old lady patients who accidentally mention they talk to God daily.  "Religious preoccupation w/ dilusions."

swibirun said...

I'm sorry.....I would comment but I am too busy exhibiting "blogging behavior - extremely dysfunctional"

Have a great weekend!
Chris
http://inanethoughtsandinsaneramblings.blogspot.com

onemoretina said...

   I finally decided that since I can't take the credit for all of my kid's positive actions, I'm not going to take the blame for all of their negative ones, either.  Once I adopted this way of thinking, I eliminated a whole lot of guilt.   Tina   P.S.  .... Courtney Love's mother is a psychologist.  Go figure.