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Psychopathology – Understanding Mental Ill Health

3. On Being Sane In Insane Places

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This third lecture is centred around Rosenhan’s 1973 paper ‘On Being Sane in Insane Places’. Dr Stevenson walks through the procedure and outcomes of the paper, which explored the validity of psychiatric diagnoses by inserting healthy pseudo patients into a psychiatric ward. The patients initially reported hearing voices saying particular words but did not report any abnormalities once admitted and behaved entirely normally while on site. Despite participants not having a history of psychopathology and behaving entirely normally, all but one were discharged with a diagnosis of schizophrenia in remission (a false positive diagnosis). The next part of this lecture focuses on the phenomenon that despite remaining undetected by doctors, the pseudo patients were suspected by 35% of other patients, exploring the reasons why this might have occurred. The final part of this lecture looks at one of Rosenhan’s follow-up studies, further exploring the opposite effect, whereby the medical staff were led to believe there might be pseudo patients, whereas in fact there were not.


False Positive in Mental Health – Diagnosing a healthy person with a mental disorder.

False Negative in Mental Health – Failing to recognise the presence of a mental disorder in a sick person, therefore assessing a person who is sick to be healthy.


In this course, Dr Jude Stevenson (University of Glasgow) explores concepts of mental health, starting with understanding what abnormality means. The second lecture approaches the practice of diagnostic labelling, discussing both the positives and negatives of doing this, as well as walking through two key databases used to do it officially. The third lecture is a deep dive into Rosenhan’s 1973 paper ‘On Being Sane in Insane Places’ which investigated the legitimacy of psychiatric diagnoses, with some concerning results. The fourth and final lecture takes a walk through the history of understanding mental ill health, contextualising the timeline into three primary models – the supernatural model, the medical model, and the cognitive behavioural model.


Dr Jude Stevenson is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Glasgow, with a primary focus on mental health and well-being. Dr Stevenson’s research centres around body focused repetitive behaviours and is a UK ambassador for the TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours. Some of her recent publications have been investigating obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. Dr Stevenson is responsible for teaching the first-year mental health and well-being course, as well as the level two individual differences course.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Stevenson, J. (2021, November 30). Psychopathology – Understanding Mental Ill Health - On Being Sane In Insane Places [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Stevenson, Jude. "Psychopathology – Understanding Mental Ill Health – On Being Sane In Insane Places." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 30 Nov 2021,

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