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The Great Pretender

The Great Pretender

"Incited by her own dehumanizing experiences in the mental health care system, the author of the popular memoir Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness continues to explore and confront the brutal history of asylums, psychiatry and schizophrenia in her groundbreaking new book. Through both personal narrative and intensive research, Cahalan investigates the controversial work of Dr. David Rosenhan and his richotteting impact on psychology and the DSM.

I opened this book expecting a typical non-fiction read about the history of medicine, and was pleasantly surprised at the emotion in the storytelling and the depth of the investigation (at one point, Cahalan even hires a private investigator). How could learning about a medical study conducted almost half a century ago equally inspire me, enrage me and perpetually keep me on the edge of my seat? I found, as Cahalan says, that 'medicine in general, and psychology in particular, is as mysterious and soulful as it is scientific."' 

Kaleigh O.

See all my recommendations »

Author Susannah Cahalan
Publisher Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date 2019-11-05
Section New Hardcover - Nonfiction / Psychology / All Staff Suggestions / Non-Fiction Suggestions / Kaleigh O.
Type New
Format Hardcover
ISBN 9781538715284

"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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