Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Is context more important than actuality

Yesterday we talked about what is normal and discussed several ways in which therapist determine if a person is normal or abnormal. To go along with that there was a study conducted by Rosenhan in 1973 in which he questioned the ability of therapists to determine how normal a person is. In his study he recruited 8 subjects including himself to be pseudo patients. These subjects would then present themselves to psychiatric hospitals complaining of hearing voices. Other than complaining of hearing voices they acted completely normal and gave truthful information except for identifying information. All but one of them was admitted to the hospitals being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Remember it was all based off of the one symptom of hearing voices. Once admitted all symptoms went away and they tried to be model patients so that they could be released as soon as possible.

This is the crazy part the average stay was 19 days with a range from7-52 days. Additionally, none of them were detected by the staff and all of their charts had recorded in them schizophrenia in remission (this is normal when a patient is doing better and is no longer displaying the symptoms of the diagnoses they will receive a mark on their record showing that it is in remission). On the other hand other patients within the hospitals voiced suspicions of the pseudo patients. Other things that were noted was how the staff responded to the pseudo patients when asked normal questions. The staff would generally avert their heads and move past them as if they were not talking to them. Another thing worth noting is that among the 8 pseudo patients they were given 2100 pills. Remember that they were only in the hospital on average for 19 days.

So from this study we learn that it is hard for professionals to distinguish normal people from abnormal people because of the setting that they are in. This also relates to how we see normal and what we perceive as normal. Taking us back to the whole idea of where the setting is dictates how we are perceived  and how we perceive others.

In relation to are characters we need to take this into consideration as we put them into different settings. Our characters are not all knowing and so they will perceive things in error. Further, those who are perceiving them will see them in error. Think of Frodo and Sam as they are in Mordor with the orc armor that really didn't fit them right but no one really paid them any attention because to have two hobbits in the middle of mordor is absolutely unbelievable, therefore no one saw the two hobits just two more orcs among the millions.

Take a look at this illusion and let me know your reaction (scroll down to the bottom to watch the video).

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