This week, we covered psychological disorders and how they a…

This week, we covered psychological disorders and how they are diagnosed. Psychologists rely on the , to assess psychological disorders. In the book this week, we read Rosenhan’s study on labeling.  Summarize this study, in your own words. What are the implications of this study for you as a future health care provider?   If you were a health care provider, would you avoid making a sudden judgment about a patient based on labeling?


Psychological disorders are a significant area of study in the field of psychology. The diagnosis of these disorders is crucial for appropriate treatment and care. Psychologists utilize various assessment tools and criteria, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), to evaluate and diagnose psychological disorders. However, there are limitations to solely relying on diagnostic labels, as demonstrated by Rosenhan’s study on labeling. This study highlighted the potential negative consequences of labeling individuals with mental health disorders and has important implications for future healthcare providers. This response aims to summarize Rosenhan’s study and discuss its implications for healthcare providers when making judgments based on labeling.

Summary of Rosenhan’s Study

Rosenhan’s study, published in 1973, aimed to investigate the consequences of labeling individuals as mentally ill within a psychiatric setting. The study consisted of two parts: the first part involved eight pseudopatients (three women and five men), who were all mentally healthy individuals seeking admission to psychiatric hospitals. The second part involved informing the hospital staff about the study and asking them to rate their confidence in the presence of subsequent pseudopatients. These pseudopatients presented themselves to various hospitals with a single complaint: that they had been hearing voices saying “empty,” “hollow,” and “thud.” All other aspects of their biographies were true and provided during the admission process. Once admitted, the pseudopatients ceased reporting symptoms and behaved typically in the hospital environment.

The results of the study were startling. All eight pseudopatients were diagnosed with a mental disorder, despite showing no other symptoms beyond the voices they initially reported. Once admitted, the pseudopatients experienced difficulties in being discharged, as their normal behavior was interpreted as a result of their supposed mental illness. Furthermore, the study highlighted issues with communication and the professional competency of staff, as the true nature of the pseudopatients’ condition was not detected by the hospital staff throughout their stay.

Implications for Future Healthcare Providers

As future healthcare providers, the findings of Rosenhan’s study have significant implications for clinical practice. The study demonstrates that diagnostic labels can have a profound impact on the perception of patients’ behavior and can lead to serious consequences. First and foremost, it emphasizes the importance of not making sudden judgments about patients based solely on their diagnostic labels. Healthcare providers must approach each patient with an open mind and consider the individual’s unique circumstances, rather than relying solely on preconceived notions associated with a specific mental disorder.

Additionally, Rosenhan’s study highlights the necessity of effective communication and collaboration within healthcare settings. The lack of communication among the hospital staff in the study resulted in an inability to detect the pseudopatients’ true condition. Therefore, healthcare providers need to prioritize clear communication and information sharing to ensure accurate diagnoses and appropriate treatment plans. This includes actively listening to patients, seeking additional information beyond the initial label, and consulting with colleagues when necessary.

Furthermore, Rosenhan’s study sheds light on the potential stigma and consequences associated with labeling individuals with mental health disorders. The pseudopatients in the study faced significant challenges in being discharged, as their normal behavior was continuously interpreted through the lens of mental illness. Healthcare providers need to be aware of the potential impact of labeling and work towards reducing stigma in clinical settings. This can be achieved through the use of person-centered language, promoting a holistic understanding of mental health, and avoiding overgeneralizing individuals based on their diagnostic labels. By adopting a more compassionate and humanistic approach, healthcare providers can help create an environment that promotes understanding and support.


Rosenhan’s study on labeling in psychiatric hospitals provides valuable insights into the consequences of diagnostic labels in healthcare settings. Future healthcare providers should be aware of the limitations and potential biases associated with labeling individuals with mental health disorders. By approaching patients with an open mind and employing effective communication, healthcare providers can ensure accurate diagnoses, reduce stigma, and provide appropriate care to individuals with psychological disorders.