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

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

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
ISBN:9781538715284
Format Type:

    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...

  • 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...

  • Nenia ? Aspiring Evil Overlord ? 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 expe...

  • Nadine

    The Great Pretender is one of those nonfiction novels that is not for everyone. It’s information heavy and quite dry at times, but full of interesting and thought provoking ideas and concerns about...

  • Janelle | She Reads with Cats

    Fascinating! Review to come....

  • Sharon

    I found this a very interesting read, this study led to some major shifts in how mental illness was thought about, diagnosed and treated and so it’s important that the study be real and accurate. Th...

  • Judy Lesley

    Susannah Cahalan and her family didn't want to accept her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder even though her symptoms easily fit. Instead they continued to search for what was happening to her, wha...

  • Peter Tillman

    Nature's review: https://www.nature.com/articles/d4158...Excerpts: Author "Cahalan quotes a former colleague of Rosenhan’s, who notes that he was a good networker, an excellent lecturer and a genera...