JOYCE papers presents a source of culture and inspiration in the form of pivotal literary and visual works.

The Great Pretender


Susannah Cahalan

Published Date






What is insanity? How do you know you are sane?

About this book

What is insanity? How do you know you are sane? Susannah Cahalan, a young reporter in New York Post was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in 2009. She was on the verge of being hospitalized at a psychiatric unit when a second doctor reviewed her case and diagnosed her with autoimmune inflammation of the brain. This unpleasant experience was later written into her first book, Brain on Fire. Her research of psychiatry led her to one of the most well-known studies - in 1973 a group of pseudopatients headed by a Stanford psychologist David Rosenhan were institutionalised and placed against their wills in different psychiatry hospitals for an average of 19 days. This study led to the publication of an article entitled ‘On Being Sane in Insane Places’. In The Great Pretender, Cahalan tracks down Rosenhan’s colleagues and the people involved in this experiment - uncovering explosive truths about what really happened behind those closed asylum doors.

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