kode adsense disini
Hot Best Seller

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

Availability: Ready to download

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 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?


Compare
kode adsense disini

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 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?

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    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 here I go!

  2. 5 out of 5

    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, 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, 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 more 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 more 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 more concise; it would have made the book a more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more incisive. The less-pertinent info should have been edited way down; Cahalan’s unfocused screeds should have been shortened and made, well, more focused; and more 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    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 that shaped modern medicine and mental health as we know it today. David Rosenhan and his brave colleagues entered asylums undercover in order to come out diagnosed out the yin-yang, but better able to expose the atrocities and systemic problems in mental health treatment at the time. On top of that, 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 that shaped modern medicine and mental health as we know it today. David Rosenhan and his brave colleagues entered asylums undercover in order to come out diagnosed out the yin-yang, but better able to expose the atrocities and systemic problems in mental health treatment at the time. On top of that, Cahalan exposes the untold mystery within the mystery. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. Many of my reviews can also be found on instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  4. 4 out of 5

    Book of the Month

    Why I love it by Maris Kreizman Susannah 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 away from being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. In her devastating 2012 memoir, Brain On Fire, Cahalan details how a neurological disease not only caused her body to attack her brain, but also caused her to question her own sanity. Susannah is fully recovered now, but what would have happened Why I love it by Maris Kreizman Susannah 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 away from being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. In her devastating 2012 memoir, Brain On Fire, Cahalan details how a neurological disease not only caused her body to attack her brain, but also caused her to question her own sanity. Susannah is fully recovered now, but what would have happened to her if her diagnosis of mental illness had stuck? This is what she grapples with in The Great Pretender, an engrossing history of the study of mental illness, centered around an experiment in which a psychiatrist and a group of other healthy people get themselves committed to mental hospitals in the early 1970s. There they experience the dehumanizing, traumatizing nature of the institutions themselves, and ultimately discover firsthand how mental illness diagnoses are biased and arbitrary at best. How do we decide who is mentally ill? Drawing on years of archival research as well as her own personal experiences, Cahalan’s gripping account of the history of insanity is a feat of both enjoyable storytelling and skillful reporting. Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/the-great-...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I 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 Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I 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 more 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 more 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

  6. 4 out of 5

    D

    Very disappointing. This book is rather poorly written and its approach is exceedingly scattered. In my opinion, the author is not really qualified by either education or experience to write about the topics discussed. The actual purpose of the work remains elusive to the reader. Cannot recommend either the purchase or taking the time to read this.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Bookish

    If you’re going into this book expecting an in-depth rehashing of the Rosenhan experiment and its conclusions, you may be disappointed. I hold a BA in psychology, so I was already somewhat familiar with this study going into the book. While I did get some new information from The Great Pretender, it was not nearly as much as I’d hoped. Part of the reason for this is that the focus of the book is not super specific. The synopsis from the publisher gave me an impression of a very different book If you’re going into this book expecting an in-depth rehashing of the Rosenhan experiment and its conclusions, you may be disappointed. I hold a BA in psychology, so I was already somewhat familiar with this study going into the book. While I did get some new information from The Great Pretender, it was not nearly as much as I’d hoped. Part of the reason for this is that the focus of the book is not super specific. The synopsis from the publisher gave me an impression of a very different book than I read. Another reviewer (who enjoyed the book a lot less than I did) made the comment that it felt like Cahalan did a lot of research on peripheral topics for this book and didn’t want it to go to waste. Consequently, it all gets included. While I get where this person is coming from, I disagree. A lot of the history of psychology included in this leads directly into David Rosenhan’s reasoning for conducting his famous experiment. He sent healthy “pseudo-patients” into mental hospitals for two major reasons: to expose the hazy nature of psychological diagnostic criteria as they existed at the time, and to provide witnesses who would be palatable to the general public who could relay the treatment the mentally ill were receiving in these institutions. The historical backdrop did not feel superfluous. Cahalan also delves into several other famous experiments, again in more detail than I would have expected given the blurb’s focus on Rosenahn. These major experiments are also relevant, albeit in a tangential way, because of the controversy surrounding them. The Stanford Prison Experiment (Philip Zimbardo) and Stanley Milgram’s experiment on obedience to authority. These experiments also share some thematic similarities with Rosenhan’s work; all of them explore the darker side of human nature in varying respects. Zimbardo purported to show that the overwhelming majority of people are capable of horrifically abusive behaviors towards another person in dehumanizing, institutional settings like prisons. Milgram’s experiment had an authority figure in a lab coat asking participants to administer electric shocks to people as part of an experiment on the effects of punishment on learning. The “teaching experiment” was actually a smokescreen, and the true purpose was to see how many people would agree to shock someone who was in pain, and to what degree. All three of these experiments (Rosenhan’s, Zimbardo’s, and Milgram’s) have faced sharp criticism of their methodology, with Zimbardo facing probably the most scrutiny. Issues vary from the potentially inappropriate level of manipulation on the participants from the researcher to outright deceit. Cahalan’s book explores a variety of issues surrounding psychiatry in a good amount of detail, some only tangentially related to the experiment referenced in the title. If your interest in this book is primarily out of a desire to understand Rosenhan’s research, you may end up feeling like you are wading through a lot of unneeded information in order to get it. However, if you have a more general interest in psychology and psychiatry, this may be an excellent book for you. You can read all of my reviews on my blog, Jenna Bookish! Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    When I read Brain on Fire, Susannah Cahalan's memoir about her experience with psychosis, I became a little obsessed with it. (The Netflix adaptation was disappointing, as the clever hook in the book was her investigating her own illness from an outside perspective, something she could do as she lost most of her memory from when she was sick. The film just follows it straight. But that's a digression.) Brain on Fire is an extremely readable memoir about a very scary and rare thing that happened When I read Brain on Fire, Susannah Cahalan's memoir about her experience with psychosis, I became a little obsessed with it. (The Netflix adaptation was disappointing, as the clever hook in the book was her investigating her own illness from an outside perspective, something she could do as she lost most of her memory from when she was sick. The film just follows it straight. But that's a digression.) Brain on Fire is an extremely readable memoir about a very scary and rare thing that happened to Cahalan. Especially since the extremely rare illness she was diagnosed with⁠—anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune disease that at the time had only been diagnosed in a couple hundred people, ever⁠—is a kind of disorder that is sometimes called a "great pretender," meaning it mimics the symptoms of other diseases and is thus hard to diagnose. In this case, Cahalan's body was attacking her brain, but doctors believed she was mentally ill. After recovering from her illness, Cahalan became obsessed with what could have been, or the people she began to call her "mirror images." One woman in particular was diagnosed with the same rare disorder after her doctor attended a lecture that Cahalan gave, but she had been suffering with the condition for years at that point, and even after treatment, would never be able to fully recover as Cahalan was able to, because she was incredibly lucky and diagnosed so early. Cahalan's is full of encounters like this now, as talking about mental illness with strangers has become a regular occurrence. When an acquaintance brought up David Rosenhan's infamous study from the 1970s, where he sent eight "pseudopatients" undercover into psychiatric hospitals to test out psychiatry's ability to tell the "sane" from the "insane," and to question the efficacy of psychiatric diagnosis, Cahalan immediately wanted to learn everything she could. Rosenhan's study became a phenomenon when it was published, crossing over into the mainstream media, and altering the practice of psychiatry in pretty significant ways. Cahalan began digging into the story, determined to learn about Rosenhan, track the effects of the study, and maybe track down the pseudopatients themselves (they were given pseudonyms in the published paper, which was titled "On Being Sane in Insane Places"). But as she starts her digging, she gradually comes to realize there are enormous holes in the story, and Rosenhan and his study were not what they seemed. I don't want to say more than that, because it's fun to watch her chase down clues, and uncover what actually happened. Cahalan also uses the investigation into the study to look into the history of psychiatry itself. This was one of the main things I'm ambivalent about with the book. At times it felt scattered, as other reviewers have pointed out, she follows a lot of "tangents." I keep going back and forth about whether those tangents were actually tangents at all, but instead purposeful insights into a greater picture that Cahalan was trying to present. But it was still a little messy and confused in execution; I think I would have appreciated more clarity. But I do think it was a necessity for her to not write about this study in a bubble. You need to know about a lot of it to understand the impact the study had on the field, and why it feels like such an urgent topic still today to Cahalan. It was very unsettling throughout the book to realize just how much we still don't know about mental illness, as one psychiatrist she quotes in the book says, all we have are "signs and symptoms," and though other reviewers have accused Cahalan of an anti-psychiatry bias, I don't think that's what's going on here at all. She's certainly in favor of psychiatry practices that don't dehumanize patients, and in favor of science that advances our understanding of the brain and how it works. She's also not afraid to bring up sticky questions, like how the mental illness stigma (and cognitive bias) often leads to misdiagnosis, and how disorders that have a physical cause in the body are taken so much more seriously than the murkier conditions like bipolar or schizophrenia, or even clinical depression. She definitely is advocating for an approach that eliminates the distinction between a medical diagnosis and a mental one; she argues that mental diagnoses are medical, even if we don't yet understand the causes. (Her own case is pretty damning; she says the way she was treated was markedly different after she received her medical diagnosis, as compared to how she was treated when doctors thought she might have schizoaffective disorder, or maybe she was just "partying too much.") One of the things I found fascinating about the book was that even as Rosenhan's study exposed flaws in the system, and produced massive change (a new standardized approach to diagnosis in the DSM-III for one thing), it also had massive consequences for the future of institutionalized psychiatry. There was already a growing anti-psychiatry movement in full swing by the time the study was published, one of the reasons it hit so big, and afterwards, many hospitals were closed, and those that are now left are massively underfunded. The need for psychiatric beds, according to Cahalan, is at minimum 95,000 heads in the USA. It is easier to get into Harvard in some cases than to get a bed and treatment when it is needed. Something I didn't know before this was that JFK's sister, Rosemary, had a developmental disorder due to oxygen deprivation at birth, and what ended up happening to her was so horrific, JFK decided to devote himself to the idea of ending barbaric practices on patients (like lobotomies) and to promote community care with government funding (a more holistic approach that focuses on humanizing patients). But because he was assassinated, the only part of his plan to be put into effect was the closing of hospitals, and the funding for different types of programs never materialized. Despite it's scattered-ness, I'm really glad I read this, and I hope people who can make a difference in our mental health care system will also read it. [3.5 stars, rounding up]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Janelle | She Reads with Cats

    Fascinating! Review to come.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sierra Smith

    I love non-fiction. I love psychology. I thought I was going to love this book. I was wrong. I hate that I found this book so very disappointing. The author states the book is about Rosenhan and his pseudopatient study which I was excited to learn more about after it was mentioned briefly during my undergrad degree. Maybe 1 1/2 chapters is about Rosenhan’s experience in a psychiatric hospital along with a few experiences mentioned by the other pseudopatients. This book is mostly a history of I love non-fiction. I love psychology. I thought I was going to love this book. I was wrong. I hate that I found this book so very disappointing. The author states the book is about Rosenhan and his pseudopatient study which I was excited to learn more about after it was mentioned briefly during my undergrad degree. Maybe 1 1/2 chapters is about Rosenhan’s experience in a psychiatric hospital along with a few experiences mentioned by the other pseudopatients. This book is mostly a history of psychiatry which is okay, but most definitely not what the author claimed it to be about. The writing is also hard to follow. The author starts a paragraph on one topic and then follows several rabbit trails, going on rants and in depth discussion on another semi-related matter before finally finishing the original paragraph three page later. Unfortunately, I really can’t recommend this book to anyone and I’m sad I wasted a Book of the Month credit on it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    Cahalan questions the validity of David Rosenhan’s undercover psychiatric study. I’m skeptical of this book’s purpose. It just seems like a platform to further shout her disdain for psychiatry. Perhaps this could’ve been a worthwhile article, but as a book, it lacks the sagacity of Brain on Fire.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robert Sheard

    I'm having a difficult time deciding how I feel about this one. First of all, the promotional text on the front cover is somewhat misleading and doesn't give me warm fuzzies about the actual conclusions of the book. But without telling you why (spoilers), this book is all about undercutting what you know regarding the field of psychiatry. In some ways, I think it may have been a better long-form article than an entire book, and the digressions to flesh out the history were the parts where my I'm having a difficult time deciding how I feel about this one. First of all, the promotional text on the front cover is somewhat misleading and doesn't give me warm fuzzies about the actual conclusions of the book. But without telling you why (spoilers), this book is all about undercutting what you know regarding the field of psychiatry. In some ways, I think it may have been a better long-form article than an entire book, and the digressions to flesh out the history were the parts where my interest faded somewhat. But if nothing else, the book sure reinforces the idea that psychiatry hasn't come out of the dark ages, for all its so-called scientific research.

  13. 5 out of 5

    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 the field of psychology and psychiatry. The Great Pretender follows the author Cahalan as she dives deep into the 1973 ground breaking study about the treatment of patients at asylums. Cahalan sets out to discover the truth behind the study and interview its participants. As mentioned previously, The 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 the field of psychology and psychiatry. The Great Pretender follows the author Cahalan as she dives deep into the 1973 ground breaking study about the treatment of patients at asylums. Cahalan sets out to discover the truth behind the study and interview its participants. As mentioned previously, The Great Pretender is information heavy. Cahalan paints in detail the sentiments towards psychology and psychiatry at the time. This information is crucial to understanding the impact this study had on the doctors in the field and the public. However, Cahalan gets lost in the weeds at times by giving too much information or going off on tangents for pages that could have been shortened to a few paragraphs. This is especially true when she begins searching for the participants. If you’re interested in the study and psychology/psychiatry in general, The Great Pretender is a fantastic book to read. Cahalan breaks down the tumultuous field making it easy to understand the culture of the time, the sentiment toward the field itself, and the future of medicine.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Book Lovers Pizza

    Wow, this was a really eye-opening look at the history of how we deal with people struggling with mental illness in this country. I read Cahalan's previous book, Brain on Fire, and really loved the description of her progression from how she wrote that book into this one. In short, she came to the realization that people (including doctors, nurses, etc) treated her differently once she was diagnosed with auto-immune disease vs. thinking she likely had developed a mental illness. Why? Isn't Wow, this was a really eye-opening look at the history of how we deal with people struggling with mental illness in this country. I read Cahalan's previous book, Brain on Fire, and really loved the description of her progression from how she wrote that book into this one. In short, she came to the realization that people (including doctors, nurses, etc) treated her differently once she was diagnosed with auto-immune disease vs. thinking she likely had developed a mental illness. Why? Isn't mental illness also a disease that needs to be treated? Why are people dealing with psychological issues singled out or treated differently? In this book, she investigates the ground-breaking study done in the 70s where one researcher sent "pseudo-patients" in to different asylums to test their system of diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. The findings of this study shocked the field and contributed greatly to what happened next which was pretty much a wide-spread closing of all mental asylums in this country. She delves deep into the psychiatry field and it gets pretty technical at times, but I still found it very fascinating. What she uncovers about the study was not at all what I expected and I appreciated how she laid out the facts fairly and concisely. I enjoyed this book and although I am not sure if others who liked her last book will appreciate this one (it is way more of a technical and investigative look at the psychiatry field and mental illness), I think Cahalan is a talented writer and I can't wait to see what she writes about next.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Quinn

    The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan My Rating: 2/5 stars Let me start by saying I typically tend to enjoy an non-fiction reads. I love learning and the plot of this book was so interesting to me. I mean it claims to be the real story of eight people who went undercover as psych patients into asylums in the 1970s. It sounds so exciting and enlighting. Well the most exciting part was the summary on the back cover. The writing style of this book is awful. It’s like a drunk aunt or a wild college The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan My Rating: 2/5 stars Let me start by saying I typically tend to enjoy an non-fiction reads. I love learning and the plot of this book was so interesting to me. I mean it claims to be the real story of eight people who went undercover as psych patients into asylums in the 1970s. It sounds so exciting and enlighting. Well the most exciting part was the summary on the back cover. The writing style of this book is awful. It’s like a drunk aunt or a wild college professor who was telling me a story and continually forgetting the point. It’s full of wild tangents and unnecessary author bias. Don’t get me wrong Susannah Cahalan’s story where her actual illness was diagnosed as a mental disorder. But she wrote a Memoir called Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. Did she really need to rehash that story in this book as well? Parts of this book were really interesting but they got lost in the rest of the book. This book could have been shorter and better organized and I think this could have been a really powerful piece. The plot is really intriguing but it falls flat. The Bottom Line: There are so many good books in the world, don’t waste your time with this one. I received a review copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing and Shelf Awareness in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Smith

    While reading this book, I felt that the author after her (terribly distressing) experiences chronicled in Brain on Fire, developed a personal vendetta against psychiatry that colored her re-telling of the Rosenhan study. She lambasted psychiatrists who have spent decades studying their discipline and cast doubts on the fact that psychiatry is directly related to the science of the brain (which it like.. totally is). Don't get me wrong, she also would mention very important topics that merit While reading this book, I felt that the author after her (terribly distressing) experiences chronicled in Brain on Fire, developed a personal vendetta against psychiatry that colored her re-telling of the Rosenhan study. She lambasted psychiatrists who have spent decades studying their discipline and cast doubts on the fact that psychiatry is directly related to the science of the brain (which it like.. totally is). Don't get me wrong, she also would mention very important topics that merit more discussion such as the prevalence of the mentally ill ending up either homeless or in prison, and the over-zealous prescribing of behavioral drugs, but all of these topics were really just tangents to her one larger point, which was to approach the Rosenhan experiment, a topic that would be at home in a textbook or a more serious academic work, with a journalistic sensationalism as she tried to follow up on Rosenhan's findings by tracking down study participants, and all but assassinated his character. Additionally, the book lacked focus. She would describe a watershed psychological study in one paragraph and then spend pages describing the formative years of a minor character's wife, leaving me wondering where exactly she was going with all of this. After finishing the book, it is still unclear.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Mullins

    While this was an interesting book, it is a dnf for me. The research is there and I understand the point of the book, however, it seems like a book written only to support her lack of belief in the mental health industry while ignoring all the beneficial and essential treatments available today.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abi

    This was SO interesting! I loved Brain on Fire so I had high expectations for this and it went above and beyond! I was enthralled the whole time and found the whole concept of people infiltrating institutions really interesting! I also found the chapter about Rose Kennedy really insightful!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laci Long || Book Pairings

    When I saw Susannah Cahalan had a new book coming out, I knew I needed to read it. I read Brain on Fire when I was going through my own neurological issues and it really hit me in the feels and has stuck with me. The Great Pretender does make references to Susannah’s experiences in Brain on Fire, so if you are interested in reading both I’d recommend reading Brain on Fire first. Alright, back to The Great Pretender. This book explores the misdiagnosis of mental illness and the differential When I saw Susannah Cahalan had a new book coming out, I knew I needed to read it. I read Brain on Fire when I was going through my own neurological issues and it really hit me in the feels and has stuck with me. The Great Pretender does make references to Susannah’s experiences in Brain on Fire, so if you are interested in reading both I’d recommend reading Brain on Fire first. Alright, back to The Great Pretender. This book explores the misdiagnosis of mental illness and the differential treatment of individuals labeled as mentally ill in the past and present. To do so Susannah investigates the Rosenhan experiment which was a study where a group of healthy volunteers (including Dr. Rosenhan) get themselves admitted to mental health facilities in the early 1970s. These volunteers experience the dehumanizing treatment of patients in the facilities firsthand and how diagnosis is really not founded in science, but more so in bias. This was an endlessly fascinating book with some unexpected revelations. I highly recommend this one for anyone interested in modern psychiatry’s history or for anyone who enjoys reading about mental health. I will not lie, it is hard to read at times but ultimately I think this is a fascinating and enlightening story that I hope many people read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    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. This is a well written and well put together account of what happened. If you are interested in psychiatry, then I would encourage you to take the time to read this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    vanessa

    My main issue with this book is how disjointed it feels. It wants to be a narrative about David Rosenhan and his 1973 pseudo-patient experiment. However, it does not deliver a cohesive detailing or explanation of the study. Cahalan attempts to track down the people who took part in the experiment, she enumerates all of the valid criticisms of Rosehan's study, and she tells us random tidbits about the history of psychiatry. The author often discusses a number of points, but then will meander to My main issue with this book is how disjointed it feels. It wants to be a narrative about David Rosenhan and his 1973 pseudo-patient experiment. However, it does not deliver a cohesive detailing or explanation of the study. Cahalan attempts to track down the people who took part in the experiment, she enumerates all of the valid criticisms of Rosehan's study, and she tells us random tidbits about the history of psychiatry. The author often discusses a number of points, but then will meander to other psychiatry topics and histories. I didn't dislike these facts or stories, but they did not feel like they added to her main thesis. I left this book kind of like, "I listened for more than ten hours and I'm not sure I understood what this book was meant to be about - this one experiment, a history of psychiatry, Cahalan's own opinions about psychiatry?" I enjoyed Brain on Fire, but this one did not work as well for me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ramona

    3.75 stars I absolutely loved Brain on Fire, the earlier release by Cahalan, but this is nothing like that book. This is the in-depth study of a professor who faked “insanity” to get inside an asylum to see its inner workings. More of his students followed suit, giving him research for an explosive report on the horrible treatment of the mentally-ill. Or did it???? What starts as deep report of uncovering the notes on this ‘project’ turns into discrepancies and possibly falsified information that 3.75 stars I absolutely loved Brain on Fire, the earlier release by Cahalan, but this is nothing like that book. This is the in-depth study of a professor who faked “insanity” to get inside an asylum to see its inner workings. More of his students followed suit, giving him research for an explosive report on the horrible treatment of the mentally-ill. Or did it???? What starts as deep report of uncovering the notes on this ‘project’ turns into discrepancies and possibly falsified information that brought about disheartening changes to the hospitals designed to house the mentally ill. The dark report pushed many to lose funding and close, but where does that leave us now? Normally this is the type of reporting I just hunger for, but the writing lacks a underlying thread of continuity and focus. Much like The original study itself it wanders and becomes a little tedious imparts, bogged down by the journey to find this information over the essence of what was learned. It’s an interesting book, troubling with the realization of how badly we need a system to diagnose and treat mental illness efficiently, but it’s a bit of journey to get there.

  23. 4 out of 5

    KC

    In Susannah Cahalan's first novel, Brain On Fire, she reveals her misdiagnosis, finding the accurate one, and then following up with the proper care towards her recovery. In this second novel, Cahalan deeply explores the mental health care issues in this country, plowing through documents, interviews, and records from 1970's famed Stanford psychologist David Rosenhan and his study on the treatment in mental health facilities. But while she travels further down the rabbit hole, she begins to In Susannah Cahalan's first novel, Brain On Fire, she reveals her misdiagnosis, finding the accurate one, and then following up with the proper care towards her recovery. In this second novel, Cahalan deeply explores the mental health care issues in this country, plowing through documents, interviews, and records from 1970's famed Stanford psychologist David Rosenhan and his study on the treatment in mental health facilities. But while she travels further down the rabbit hole, she begins to reveal more than she ever had expected.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    The Great Pretender is an in-depth exploration of a 1970s study that involved pseudo patients being admitted to mental institutions and the results of their findings, led by a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan. The book looks at the details of this study, its effect on the future of mental health, the history of psychology and psychiatry, and the holes in what Rosenhan revealed to the world. “Psychiatry at its best is what all medicine needs more of - humanity, art, listening, and The Great Pretender is an in-depth exploration of a 1970s study that involved pseudo patients being admitted to mental institutions and the results of their findings, led by a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan. The book looks at the details of this study, its effect on the future of mental health, the history of psychology and psychiatry, and the holes in what Rosenhan revealed to the world. “Psychiatry at its best is what all medicine needs more of - humanity, art, listening, and empathy - but at its worst it is driven by fear, judgment, and hubris.” ~Susannah Cahalan This is not a biography. If you go into it expecting a story, you may be disappointed. It is an investigative journalism report and its findings are revealed to us in the same order that they were revealed to the writer. Her passion for the topic is overwhelmingly evident and adds flavor to the text. Still, this collaboration of facts and the fact finding process may not appeal to everyone. With the right expectations in mind, I feel that readers can really benefit from the intriguing material presented in The Great Pretender. Upon finishing the book, I felt that I had more questions than I had before starting it, which is not a flaw, as I feel the writer intended to create inquisitiveness for the readers. I believe she sought to make us question the system and the answers we’re handed. If we are unwilling to investigate and we accept all that the psychiatric field (or society, in general) hands us as fact, perhaps a book like this will open up our eyes to why we need to be more critical seekers and thinkers. The topic explored is complex and important. I really enjoyed The Great Pretender. The material was fascinating and I am a fan of this type of factual delivery in non-fiction. Personal anecdotes were limited but noted when Cahalan felt they supported the report she shared with the reader. I appreciated traveling through the mystery of it all as she unraveled it. Having felt similarly about Brain on Fire, I must enthusiastically state that I’m really looking forward to whatever Susannah Cahalan produces next! Thank you Grand Central Publishing for gifting me this finished copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    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, what was causing the symptoms she was living with. Finally she was diagnosed with the medical condition of autoimmune encephalitis, received treatment and recovered. Coming that close to such a huge misdiagnosis caused her to wonder how doctors in the field of psychiatry could tell which patient was 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, what was causing the symptoms she was living with. Finally she was diagnosed with the medical condition of autoimmune encephalitis, received treatment and recovered. Coming that close to such a huge misdiagnosis caused her to wonder how doctors in the field of psychiatry could tell which patient was sane and which insane. Friends suggested she might be interested in reading an article published in the journal Science in 1973 titled "On Being Sane in Insane Places" by Stanford University professor David Rosenhan. Reading the article ignited her desire to find out who the "pseudopatients" were that participated in Rosenhan's project, to know how they got themselves admitted to twelve hospitals and, just as interesting, how they managed to convince staff that they were cured or sane enough to be released. Commitments ranged from 7 to 52 days with seven participants plus Rosenhan himself. The first portions of this book were not terribly interesting to me but the writing is very well done and the whole question of how to reliably tell sanity from insanity was what had initially triggered my interest so I decided to read on. Once Cahalan began to research who the pseudopatients were and which hospitals they chose the story began to change completely for me and I became thoroughly involved. The research into the questions surrounding Rosenhan's article soon became can't-stop-reading for me, a real life mystery spotlighting not just his article, but the man himself. The answers Cahalan found were unexpected, especially when considering the world wide changes the article had on the field of psychiatry. One man made such a difference to an entire branch of medicine. Find out here how he did it and what the consequences have been. I received a review copy of this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Author Susannah Cahalan was diagnosed with schizophrenia -- except she had autoimmune encephalitis. Like many, including myself, with autoimmune diseases, she was presumed to have a severe mental illness. Luckily, during her hospitalization a different doctor ran a different test and found out the truth. In the mean while, Cahalan was subjected to the kind of treatment that far too many people receive in mental health environments: "Take the meds and be cooperative." When she was sufficiently Author Susannah Cahalan was diagnosed with schizophrenia -- except she had autoimmune encephalitis. Like many, including myself, with autoimmune diseases, she was presumed to have a severe mental illness. Luckily, during her hospitalization a different doctor ran a different test and found out the truth. In the mean while, Cahalan was subjected to the kind of treatment that far too many people receive in mental health environments: "Take the meds and be cooperative." When she was sufficiently recovered, Cahalan began to wonder whether we can really tell the difference between sanity and insanity (in the traditional sense) and started to do some research. This led her to the work of David Rosnahan, a Stanford researcher whose paper entitled "On Being Sane in Insane Places" exposed some of the behavior inside mental institutions. Rosnahan's paper states that he sent eight "pseudopatients" undercover, one of them himself, complaining of identical auditory hallucinations, and seeking voluntary commitment. Some of the data and information didn't make sense to Cahalan, so she sought out Rosnahan's colleagues and became determined to find out who the pseudopatients were so that she could interview them as well. Cahalan not only learned about institutionalized life, but also the degree to which social psychology research could be (and was) influenced by the researcher's personal bias. This book not only lays out Cahalan's journey to research the researcher, but also shows just how little we still know and understand about mental illness -- and how Big Pharma tends to influence diagnostic outcomes for purposes of convenience. Read alongside Gary Greenberg's "Manufacturing Depression," this book creates a scathing picture of what can only be called the mental health industry rather than treatment. Highly recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    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 generally charismatic character. “But some people in the department called him a bullshitter,” Kenneth Gergen says. And through her deeply researched study, Cahalan seems inclined to agree with them. She discovered that the man whom she had initially admired, and who had done so much to change how mental 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 generally charismatic character. “But some people in the department called him a bullshitter,” Kenneth Gergen says. And through her deeply researched study, Cahalan seems inclined to agree with them. She discovered that the man whom she had initially admired, and who had done so much to change how mental illness was perceived, was not all that he had seemed. And neither, she argues, was his famous experiment." "When all of the leads from her contacts led to ground, she published a commentary in The Lancet Psychiatry asking for help in finding them — to no avail. Had Rosenhan invented them, she found herself asking? In recent years, other heroes of social psychology have been found to have misrepresented their data. The most prominent case is that of Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel, who was forced to retract 58 papers. Those who have followed these cases might be appalled by the Rosenhan story, but will not be surprised. Cahalan, whose life was saved by front-line medical science in the context of psychiatry, was shocked by what she found. She writes that she cannot be completely certain that Rosenhan cheated. But she is confident enough to call her engrossing, dismaying book The Great Pretender."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    The Great Pretender, by Susannah Cahalan, is one of the most extraordinary, best written works of nonfiction I think I’ve ever read. I have so much to say about it that I’m honestly not sure where to begin! This book takes on our existential fear of mental illness, our cultural dread of asylums, and the possibly unsolvable problem of where mental illnesses come from and how to cure them. Cahalan uses all her skills as a journalist to dig deep into a contentious scholarly and societal argument The Great Pretender, by Susannah Cahalan, is one of the most extraordinary, best written works of nonfiction I think I’ve ever read. I have so much to say about it that I’m honestly not sure where to begin! This book takes on our existential fear of mental illness, our cultural dread of asylums, and the possibly unsolvable problem of where mental illnesses come from and how to cure them. Cahalan uses all her skills as a journalist to dig deep into a contentious scholarly and societal argument about the the legendary Rosenhan Experiment... Read the rest of my review via A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for view consideration.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I received an uncorrected proof of this book at Book Expo. This book is a must read for anyone with an interest in psychology or psychiatry. It is part history of the field, part detective story, and part rallying cry for hope and change. I was unable to put this book down and finished it in less than 24 hours. I will be highly recommending this book to everyone I know.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    3.5 stars. This was not what I was expecting and I think the blurb on this is misleading but it was for the most part an interesting look at the history of psychology and mental illness.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.