On being sane in insane places – Dr Gary Kohls MD

Each one secretly gained admission to one or two different mental hospitals by falsely complaining to a psychiatrist that they had been hearing voices over the past few weeks. The “voices” in each case were saying only the three words “empty,” “hollow,” and “thud.” No visual hallucinations or other psychological abnormalities were relayed to the examining psychiatrist. Except for the fake “chief complaint”, the intake histories relayed by the patients were entirely truthful. Each individual was immediately admitted to the target psychiatric hospital, much to the surprise of most of the pseudo-patients.

All but one of the admitted “patients” were given a diagnosis of “schizophrenia.” The other one was labeled “manic-depressive.” When they were discharged, the 11 had discharge diagnoses of “schizophrenia, in remission,” despite the fact that absolutely no psychotic or manic behaviors had been observed during their stays.

After admission, the pseudo-patients all acted totally sane, each emphasizing to the hospital staff member that the voices had disappeared. When given the chance, each also asked about when they could be discharged. Those questions were largely ignored by staff.

Despite the fact that each one acted totally normally throughout, hospital stays averaged 19 days, ranging from 7 to 52 days.

On being sane in insane places