The famous Rosenhan experiment of 1973 showed that doctors in asylums routinely misdiagnosed normal people with various psychiatric disorders.

Have any followup studies been done to confirm these results? I am particularly interested in any studies in which the pseudopatients did not feign insanity, but act normally during the course of the experiment.

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    $\begingroup$ Somewhat related, Mad Dog's documentary Prescription Thugs (2015) imdb.com/title/tt4505666 reviews the same results today: If you report psychiatric symptoms (real or fake), then you will generally be diagnosed with a corresponding disorder, and prescribed medication accordingly. It is often considered an unavoidable aspect of the entire medical health industry. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, the experiment had a huge impact - here's a Reddit thread about it: reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/orf88/… $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ It turns out that Rosenhan's experiment may have been fraudulent. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 7:33

1 Answer 1


There was a follow-up to Rosenhan (1973). The whole study was revisited by Scribner (2001).

The present study is a replication of sorts, modified to suit the contemporary, postdeinstitutionalization state of mental health care. The findings suggest that a significant shift has occurred in mental health care since 1973. At the time of the original study by Rosenhan (1973), the troubling issue was the ease with which people could receive an unwarranted diagnosis and unnecessary treatment for a nonexistent mental disorder. In today's mental health care environment, the troubling issue is the difficulty involved in obtaining treatment that is warranted for conditions that are present.


Rosenhan, D. L. (1973). On being sane in insane places. Science, 179(4070), 250-258. DOI: 10.1126/science.179.4070.250

Scribner, C. M. (2001). Rosenhan revisited. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 32(2), 215. DOI: 10.1037/0735-7028.32.2.215


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