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The reactions of patients and staff were quite different. The other patients were, in fact, suspicious of the pseudo-patients. The sensed that they were not “crazy.” The staff, on the other hand, paid little attention and had little interaction with the patients. While patients mingled throughout certain parts of the day. The staff would spend most of their time isolated inside a glass room, which allowed then to monitor the floor without actually having much contact with the patients. Those of the greatest importance in this situation, like psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors, and nurses, were those that would see the patients the least. The pseudo-patients noticed that the patents on average seldom showed behaviors which would constitute the diagnosis that warrants being institutionalized, however, staff seems to pay little attention to that reality. (Rosenhan 250-258)
3. According to the findings of the Rosenhan study, we cannot objectively or scientifically distinguish sanity from insanity. In that light, how does Rosenhan characterize mental hospital staff members?
This story shockingly verifies how truly difficult it is to distinguish between a sane person acting mentally ill and someone mentally ill pretending to be sane. Rosenhan’s study makes it very clear that staff is rather ambivalent to the patients, preferring not to interact with them; they would go so far to not even make eye contact on many occasions. They treat the patients based on their diagnosis they are given and cannot see anything without seeing through the lens of mental illnesses. Once someone is dubbed clinically insane, no matter what happens in the future, that person will always be insane; mental illness is a lifetime diagnosis, like a black mark or scarlet letter. Rosenhan explains that mental illness is not like a
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