[Ebook] ↠ The Great Pretender Author Susannah Cahalan – Reliableradio.co.uk

The Great Pretender From One Of America S Most Courageous Young Journalists NPR Comes A Propulsive Narrative History Investigating The 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 S 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 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 I m a big fan of Susannah Cahalan s first book Brain on Fire, and was super excited to learn that she had another work of nonfiction coming out later in 2019 The Great Pretender is about a group of people who went undercover in the 1970s as patients in America s asylums to see what the mental health system was like from the inside Cahalan tells the story of this experiment and its impact on treatment of mental illness, and also reflects on its significance and the way we remember it now Elizabeth excerpted from Bookish s Staff Reads 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 here I go 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, attempted to get admitted to psychiatric hospitals by showing up and claiming they heard a voice in their head saying empty, hollow, and thud All of them got admitted on this basis, most of them receiving a preliminary diagnosis of schizophrenia Once admitted, they behaved like their normal selves, but no one seemed to notice they were actually not mentally ill The resulting article, On Being Sane in Insane Places, purported to show that 1 diagnosis of mental health issues was unreliable at best and 2 patients in psychiatric hospitals were in fact not treated in ways that might actually be therapeutic.When Susannah Cahalan heard about this study a few years ago, she was fascinated Girl, me too Rosenhan s study put me in mind of Nellie Bly s groundbreaking undercover investigation of an asylum, which she published in the 1880s as Ten Days in a Mad House, and which I was obsessed with as a kid Bly s investigation is detailed in The Great Pretender, but Cahalan s own interest was based on something personal Her harrowing experience of having her brain inflammation misdiagnosed as mental illness If a determined doctor hadn t discovered what was actually ailing her, her life may have turned out very differently.Cahalan decided to find out everything she could about Rosenhan s study, talking to his associates and even attempting to track down some of the other pseudopatients who took part in it Without spoiling anything, what she discovered was very interesting, and The Great Pretender itself should have been similarly interesting Unfortunately, this book had so many structural problems it was ultimately much frustrating than fascinating.Simply put, Cahalan should have made the Rosenhan study, how it was received, and her investigation into it the main plotline of the book But she clearly did a ton of research and didn t want any of it to go to waste, so there are many, many detours, for paragraphs, pages, or even entire chapters, into topics that are peripheral the history of the Esalen Institute, for example and or can t be discussed adequately here overdiagnosing replicability issues in research imprisoning the mentally ill Some of these details actually undermine the points she is trying to make for example, she wants to claim that Rosenhan s study caused the closure of psychiatric hospitals, resulting in a lack of support for the mentally ill, but a long detour into John F Kennedy s efforts to help the mentally ill shows that this was a problem well before Rosenhan came on the scene All of this extra information not only makes the reading experience a slog it also dulls the impact of the discoveries Cahalan herself makes I truly wish someone had edited this book with an eye toward making it sharper and concise it would have made the book a informative and memorable reading experience.Cahalan understandably takes issue with the vague misdiagnosing that caused the pseudopatients to end up hospitalized, but she seems equally opposed to the much detailed diagnostic criteria provided by DSM volumes that have appeared subsequent to the Rosenhan study Does Cahalan offer her own solution to these problems In a word, no in the penultimate chapter of The Great Pretender she rails against the psychiatry and psychology professions in a way that s nearly incoherent, and in the final chapter she purports to offer hope for the future, but some of the advances she names seem like quackery and pseudoscience, and the fact that psychiatrists are making money than ever before hardly seems like the good news she thinks it is.The book is also sloppy with facts in a way that gave me pause She misuses the word metastasize, for example, and indicates that mammograms prevent breast cancer they don t, of course She also makes much of the fact that Rosenhan published his article in Science rather than a specialized journal, implying that Science would be less rigorous in its review and that its quick turnaround times necessarily meant its peer review process cut corners This implication struck me as irresponsible it seems equally likely that Rosenhan wanted to be in Science because it was a prestigious and popular journal, and that its faster peer review process might be a result of its large number of resources compared to other journals I was left with the feeling that Cahalan, a former New York Post reporter, didn t know much about scientific publishing, and it made me wonder what else was mere speculation on her part.Some criticisms with the presentation of the book The Rosenhan article itself wasn t included here neither were the responses to the study that other researchers published Sure, it would have cost money for the publisher to obtain these reprint rights, but it would have made the entire experience of reading The Great Pretender much informative Additionally, Cahalan urges readers to educate themselves on these issues, but she doesn t include a list of recommended reading instead readers are expected to wade through the end notes for pertinent material None of this adds up to a satisfactory learning experience.As I said, this topic is fascinating to me, and it saddens me that I can t recommend this book In short, the whole thing should have been way incisive The less pertinent info should have been edited way down Cahalan s unfocused screeds should have been shortened and made, well, focused and resources should have been provided for the reader It seems that The Great Pretender is meant to be some kind of challenge to the field of psychiatry to do better, and while that s a worthy goal, Cahalan hasn t done much here besides meet their fuzzy thinking with fuzzy thinking of her own.I received this ARC via a Shelf Awareness giveaway Thank you to the publisher. Instagram Twitter Facebook 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 experience with autoimmune encephalitis that manifested itself with symptoms similar to schizophrenia Had she been misdiagnosed, she could have ended up with permanent brain damage or dead Given that close call, it s understandable that the author might have some skepticism about psychology A lot of people do, and like a lot of sciences, its beginnings seem backwards and barbaric Of course, since psychology is one of the newer sciences, those beginnings are far recent than most.THE GREAT PRETENDER is about the Rosenhan experiment, a study in which volunteers including the psychologist leading it pretended to have vague symptoms and see if they would get checked in to a mental health facility Spoiler according to the researcher s notes, all of them did, and all of them except for one ended up with diagnoses of schizophrenia the other was diagnosed as borderline, I think, or manic Also spoiler they found the conditions pretty horrible, too Staff were unsympathetic and liable to treat even normal behaviors such as journaling as mentally ill.Cahalan manages to get access to the psychologist s notes and even interview some of the participants in the study Her findings, through supplementary research and some historical context, are pretty grim on both sides Yes, clinical psychologists have, historically, done some pretty awful things in the name of medical science, whether it s treating patients like circus acts 19th century Bedlam or doing gratuitous surgeries assembly line style, to those who are willing and not lobotomies Cahalan talks about a Victorian journalist who checked herself in to a psychiatric facility and was horrified by the results Rosenhan and his experimenters, while finding themselves in conditions nowhere near as horrifying, were still shocked at their cold and impartial and sometimes unhygienic treatment.When the study came out, people immediately sought to riposte it Psychology is an oft villainized field and I think there was probably a concern that a distrust in the industry might dissuade people from seeking the treatment they might need Less philanthropically, I m sure they were also concerned for their careers and the cash money said careers brought in As Cahalan notes, the study may not have been as truthful as it could have been, as there were some factual disputes that arose when his data was cross referenced with interviewees and other sources.I wanted to like this book a lot than I did, being that I was a psychology major in school and actually contributed to active research studies Supposedly, there s even one floating around out there with my name on it Initially, I was very interested in the subject of the experiment, but it quickly wore thin as it was much drier than I was expecting and the whole time I was reading, I kept comparing THE GREAT PRETENDER unfavorably to the author s first book I do think if you want to read a book that goes into depth about what psychiatric clinics are like, as well as the ethics of psychology and treatment, you might enjoy it, but those who aren t interested in psychology and have only scant interest in the topic will be disappointed, as this is hardly titillating and textbook dry.Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review 2 to 2.5 stars

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