chapter  17
13 Pages

The patient’s world: discourse analysis and ethnography Dariusz Galasin´ski

In 1973, David Rosenhan published an experiment that shook psychopathology. Rosenhan asked

a simple question: ‘if sanity and insanity exist, how shall we know them?’ (Rosenhan, 1973,

p. 250) and designed a study that was an epitome of simplicity. He asked eight healthy

persons (four psychologists, a psychiatrist, a paediatrician, a housewife and a painter) to

report to a hospital and claim that they hear voices saying ‘empty’, ‘hollow’ and ‘thud’. After

being admitted to the hospital, the pseudopatients had to act (and subsequently did act) ‘nor-

mally’. Needless to say, the pseudopatients were admitted (minimum 7 days, maximum 52),

diagnosed (schizophrenia) and treated pharmacologically (nearly 2100 pills; with only two

(sic!) swallowed). To make matters more interesting, it is worth adding that only genuine

patients (as many as 35) voiced concerns that three of the pseudopatients were faking illness.