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Forums > Social Chat > Sticks & stones........

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.Morph.
SILVER Member since Mar 2002

.Morph.

addict
Location: Lancashire, UK

Total posts: 669
Posted:

I'm not sure how true this is, but it's an interesting, scary & funny read.........

------------------------------------------------
Sticky Labels *
David A. Gershaw, Ph.D.
From this recent holiday season, you might think that the title refers to labels for mailing packages. Unfortunately, the title relates to labels stuck on people. Many of us are very careless when we label others as "crazy" or "stupid." Many times these labels stick, strongly affecting the lives of others. The classic research in the 1970s by Dr. David Rosenhan, a Stanford psychologist, illustrates this.

To discover how accurate hospitals were in distinguishing between people, Rosenhan and his associates had themselves voluntarily admitted as pseudo-patients ("pseudo-" means false). To gain entrance to mental hospitals, they only faked one symptom – hearing voices that said "hollow" and "thud." With only this complaint, all twelve were admitted, eleven with the diagnostic label of "schizophrenia."

After being admitted, these pseudo-patients acted completely normal while on the ward. However – even though they spent 1-7 weeks in the hospital – none of the pseudo-patients was ever recognized by the hospital staff as a phony patient. In contrast, other patients were not as easily fooled. It was not unusual for one of the real patients to say to one of the pseudo-patients, "You're not crazy; you're checking up on the hospital!" or "You're a journalist."

Regardless of the quality of the hospital, being labeled as a patient has severe effects on the treatment of patients. When pseudo-patients tried to talk to staff, they were ignored or responded to with fear or hostility. Some received very strange replies. One pseudo-patient approached a psychiatrist and politely asked if he might gain ground privileges. The doctor's reply was, "Good morning, Dave. How are you today?"

Essentially patients are treated as nonpersons. For example, a nurse unbuttoned her uniform to adjust her bra in front of a room full of male patients. She was not being sexy – she just did not consider these patients as men! Often patients would be discussed by the staff, while the patient was standing nearby. It was as if the patients were invisible.

Whatever the patient did was assumed to be part of their labeled "craziness." This was best illustrated by Rosenhan's note taking. At first, Rosenhan began taking notes by carefully jotting things down on a small piece of paper hidden in his hand. He learned quickly that hiding his note taking was unnecessary. He was soon walking around with a clipboard and notepads, recording observations and collecting data. No one questioned his behavior. Nobody asked to see what he was writing. (After being released, Rosenhan found that his actions were on the hospital records as "compulsive writing behavior.") In other words, because pseudo-patients were seen in the context of a mental ward – and because they had been labeled schizophrenic – anything they did was seen as a symptom of their "illness."

Once you have been labeled as mentally ill – even if it was an accidental commitment – how could you ever convince anyone that you were normal? It would be useless to say, "Look, this is all a mistake. I'm not crazy. You've got to let me out." The response might be "Have you had these paranoid delusions for a long time?"

As you might imagine, mental health professionals found Rosenhan's data hard to believe. To further demonstrate, researchers warned staff at another hospital that one or more pseudo-patients were going to try to be admitted in the next 3 months. Thus alerted, the staff at this hospital tried to identify fake incoming patients. Among 193 candidates, 41 were labeled as fakes by at least one staff member, and 19 more were labeled as "suspicious." Again this demonstrated the effects of labeling – but this time in reverse – since Rosenhan never sent any patients, fake or otherwise, to this hospital!

As a final note to this study, all of the normal people who served in the original study were discharged with the label of "schizophrenic in remission." In other words, they are still considered schizophrenic, but they are "temporarily free of symptoms." The label stayed with them – even after they had left the hospital.

It is acceptable to label behavior,
but it can be dangerous to label people.
-----------------------------------------------



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Sic Kitty


Sic Kitty

member
Location: Richlands, North Carolina, USA

Total posts: 167
Posted:Speaking of crazy...that is the craziest thing i've ever read!!

But understandably true. Many ppl fall victim to classifing or "labeling" others. And these labels follow us around.

As an added note, not only do ppl get treated diff bcuz of these labels, but they also tend to act diff themselves. Especially if they are young. If you are told often enough that you are one thing, you begin to believe it. The human psyche is a sensitive thing. Yet we treat it with such carelessness.

Many times I have been asked..."What are you?" What an odd question to ask a person. The what implies something inanimate. Yet we are people, shouldn't the question be...Who are you? Teenagers love to label, I suppose it makes life easier. Punk, Goth, Dork, Prep...even simple things such as popular can perpetuate the classifications. Maybe...if each person was treated individually...for who they are, things might be a little different. But as of now, people are being grouped and packed in neat little boxes. Defined only through the lines of these boxes. And everyone has been a victim, as well as a perpetrator of this crime.


You've just been attacked by:
SIC KITTY!
*cackles maniacally*
I suffer...*sob*...because I am better.

I don't really believe that.... *coughs*

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Deimos
BRONZE Member since Aug 2003

Deimos

Cinnamon Girl
Location: Hfx, NS, Canada

Total posts: 191
Posted:It really disgusts me to think of those patients not being treated like people. I have a good friend who is schizophrenic and though he freaks out sometimes, he's a normal guy. He responds and understand things as easily as someone without schizophrenia, so I don't see why the docters and nurses would treat the pseudo-patients as incompetents. It's unnerving to realize what kind of people are taking care of those with dissabilities.

P*L*U*R

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Beth


Beth

Miss Whippy
Location: Cornwall & Oxford

Total posts: 1262
Posted:I've studied the piece of research you are refering to in great detail in my psychology course and yes it is true.
Its awful but it doesnt actually happen like that anymore.
It was the 70s!!
People hardly knew anything about mental illnesses in the 70s and treatment and diagnosis was often wrong.
NOW its the 21st century, treatment and diagnosis of illnesses like schizophrenia and depression have come a loooooong way.
I agree labelling is wrong but please find a piece of research thats relevant to the world we live in today
Also Community Care is used nowadays to treat mental illnesses, it helps reintegrate people into society slowly with help of clinics, carers and friends and family.
People do still get labelled with 'crazy' and stuff like it but it doesnt happen nearly as frequently as it did in the 70s and it doesnt stick either.

Just my two cents!


Aim high and you'll know your limits, aim low and you'll never know how high you could have climbed.

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Noir_deluxe


member
Location: Canada

Total posts: 58
Posted:I studied something like that, along the same lines, but it was more recent. We talked a bit about it in my psychology class. The fact that doctors often take patients in on syptoms only, and then don't pay attention is true. Unfortunately. But it is kind of alarming isn't it, that doctors will admit perfectly healthy people into the ward, and then keep treating them. What happens if the person doesn't want to be there? What if its all a big accident of mix up, and you end up giving a guy shock treatment, or a labotomy. Its all quite frightening really. And you know what else sucks about doctors? I just waited 45 minutes in the waiting room for the doctor to tell me, in less then five minutes that I had a chest infection. the ratio of wait to exam time is crap. Really.

Noir_DDELUX

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Astar


member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.

Total posts: 1591
Posted:Yeah. This stuff still happens. No system is perfect, but the system today is a hell of a lot better then it was. Ive been a patient in psych wards before for severe depression and the one thing I observed is the people who come into the psych ward full of preconceived ideas of what a psych ward should be (I was one of these people) Will not make any progress untill they open their eyes and realize it is nothing like psych wards used to be.

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Dentrassi
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

Dentrassi

ZORT!
Location: Brisbane

Total posts: 3044
Posted:i studied a fantastic subject last semester called the 'history of psychiatry'. although i could crap on for several pages [i cant be bothered!] you realised how extraordinarily complicated mental health care is. how do you define insanity? how do you define normal for that matter?

i think ill stick to engineering and leave the entire 'understanding the entire human mind' to others!!

keep in mind the research is 30 years old!


"Here kitty kitty...." - Schroedinger.

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Mr Hands


member
Location: Cardiffy, Londony places

Total posts: 64
Posted:I'm currnetly reading up on Film/animaiton theory in my spare time, a sphere of study I thought would be free of the insanity that Freud and Jung monaed on about, that is until I discovered that secretly, we all have problems atching female lead character on screen because the film is largley viewed from a male perspective, and thus, and get this... the lack of male genitalia on a women reminds us of castration, and this makes us uncomfortable (no kidding!)... and it goes on.... its not quite Mental patient craziness, but not what I was expecting on a break down of a simple animaiton... So as a general question, how many of you out there crossed your legs when you watched Thelma and Louise??

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Dentrassi
GOLD Member since Apr 2003

Dentrassi

ZORT!
Location: Brisbane

Total posts: 3044
Posted:freud is a wonderful person to harrass and criticise, but it must also be considered that he was amoung the creators of psychoanalysis - meaning one of the first to actually LISTEN to what his patients said. this is pretty good compared to some of the more horrible tortuous physical treatments used in mental hospitals at the time.
although freud's interpretation and diagnosis of the brain working were often reasonably odd. some have argued this hasnt changed much with modern psychiatry.


"Here kitty kitty...." - Schroedinger.

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Beth


Beth

Miss Whippy
Location: Cornwall & Oxford

Total posts: 1262
Posted:Freud was a bit of a fool, well a lot of a fool. He was the first to listen to his patients and pioneered the Psychodynamic approach to psychology (i.e. psychoanalysis) which is all good but he would only talk to middle aged Jewish women.... then went on about how they all had penis envy! Very clever bloke.... uh huh....

Anyways, yeah, treatment has changed a hell of a lot now and all the preconcieved ideas and misconceptions of the treatment of mental illness are a bit ridiculous.

Though i think the real issue here is the innate ignorance of humans and their massive fear of the unknown. Until we learn to get over that and evolve into an understanding and completely open-minded race, there will always be labels because it helps us to cope with life and people that are different.



Aim high and you'll know your limits, aim low and you'll never know how high you could have climbed.

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