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January Non-fiction Book Club

Hosted by the Consul of the Doha Book Group
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Took place 2 months ago
Mon 25 Jan 19:00 - 21:00

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The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding.

Hi, this month a very different choice. We will be reading the great pretender.

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 Protected content 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 study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.

But, as Cahalan's 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?