The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission that Changed our Understanding of Madness (Hardback)Susannah Cahalan (author)
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Both an absorbing account of psychiatry and mental illness and a gripping real-life page-turner, The Great Pretender documents the audacious undercover investigation into America’s asylums carried out in the 1970s. The fruit of exhaustive, questioning research, Cahalan’s book is packed with twists, turns and shocking revelations, and has had the likes of Jon Ronson purring about its pioneering brilliance.
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 1970s 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 watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever. But, as Cahalan's explosive 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?
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 509 g
Dimensions: 220 x 144 x 36 mm
'This book, choppily organised but passionate, is a warning against easy answers.' - The Sunday Times
‘Given her own experiences and her twitchy investigative nose… the result is compulsively readable.’ - The Observer
'People have asked me over the years: if they liked The Psychopath Test, what should they read next? I now have an answer. Susannah Cahalan's The Great Pretender is such an achievement. It's a wonderful look at the anti-psychiatry movement and a great adventure - gripping, investigative. It's destined to become a popular and important book.' - Jon Ronson
'Bold, brave, and original, The Great Pretender grips you as tightly as the madness it investigates. Cahalan writes with enormous intelligence and style, and propels you through this dark and fascinating journey into psychiatry and the very nature of sanity.' - Susan Orlean
'Breathtaking! Cahalan's brilliant, timely and important book reshaped my understanding of mental health, psychiatric hospitals and the history of scientific research. A must-read for anyone who's ever been to therapy, taken a brain-altering drug or wondered why mental patients were released in droves in the 1980s. And a thrilling, eye-opening read even for those who thought they weren't affected by the psychiatric world.' - Ada Calhoun
'Gripping account of a study that rocked the foundational concepts of how we judge sanity . . . A well-told story fraught with both mystery and real-life aftershocks that set the psychiatric community on its ear.' - Kirkus
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