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The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission that Changed our Understanding of Madness
Released the same day as the standard print edition
The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission that Changed our Understanding of Madness
Written by:
Susannah Cahalan 
Read by:
Katherine FentonSusannah Cahalan 
Unabridged CD Audio Book 
Number of CDs:
12 hours 16 minutes 
January 02 2020 
Available Date:
January 02 2020 
Age Category:
Non-fiction; Health; Medicine; Psychology 
Bolinda/Canongate audio 
Bolinda price
AUD$ 39.95
AUD$ 39.95

#1 New York Times bestselling author

From 'one of America's most courageous young journalists' (NPR) comes a propulsive narrative history investigating the fifty-year-old mystery behind a dramatic experiment that changed the course of modern medicine.

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 – clinically sane 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?

'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 Reviews, starred

'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