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Publisher's Summary

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?  

Preface and epilogue read by the author.

©2019 Susannah Cahalan (P)2019 Canongate Books Ltd (Existing Audio) (Non-Exclusive)

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Well researched, interesting story

Interesting to learn about psychiatry and the pressures to ‘publish or perish’ might have influenced an article that had such a huge impact on how mental illness is treated. The ramifications are being felt still. I found the reading a bit slow and was glad for the 1.25 x speed increase.

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  • Mrs. Lindsay P. Tonner
  • 22-04-2020

brilliant

Wow! I loved Susannah Cahallan’s first book, Brain On Fire, a personal account about her battle with *spoiler alert* autoimmune encephalitis, so was really intrigued to read her second offering. This one was about Mental Health, what we know about it, how it is treated, and about a study that resulted in massive changes to the entire mental health syste, in america and the rest of the world. It wasn’t exactly a fast-paced, thrill ride but it was very interesting and had a twist. Who knew non-fiction books could have a twist?!
This is a very important book that sheds new light on the science of mental health and psychiatry. It is an in-depth piece of investigative journalism on a subject about which Cahallan is obviously very passionate and knowledgeable, and this comes across through her writing. I highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in mental illness and it’s treatment.

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