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The Great Pretender

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The Great Pretender

The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness

Bookseller Recommendation

The Great Pretender

“After sharing her traumatic experience with the medical world in Brain on Fire, Susannah Cahalan has found that there are a lot of troubling controversies and misconceptions in the field of psychology, many of which stem from a study published by David Rosenhan in 1973. Rosenhan's study "On Being Sane in Insane Places," rocked the world of psychiatry and changed the way we look at mental health. Read mostly by the author, Cahalan dives into the history and background of not only this groundbreaking study but Rosenhan himself in this fascinating and honest audiobook.”

Rediscovered Books image Kalli, Rediscovered Books


"One of America's most courageous young journalists" and the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Brain on Fire investigates the shocking mystery behind the dramatic experiment that revolutionized modern medicine (NPR).

Doctors have struggled for centuries to define insanity--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, healthy, 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 in this real-life detective story, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors?

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