In psychology there are many problems that psychologists must face. One of the major problems is defining what is meant by ‘normal’. The general conception of what ‘normal’ means is whatever an average is for a given group of people or society. This would mean when someone functions within what are considered to be social and cultural norms, a norm must be stated in terms of psycho-social, ethical, and legal concepts that we have within society. A very basic idea that can be used to classify abnormal behaviour is personal distress. On the whole, if a person is content with their life, then they are of no concern to the mental health field. However, if a person's thoughts or behaviours are causing them personal discomfort or unhappiness, then they will be considered abnormal.

In 1973, American psychologist David Rosenhan, along with seven other pseudo-patients, who were all clinically sane, attempted to get admitted to into several mental institutions across America. All but one gained admission to twelve different psychiatric hospitals over a period of months. They did this by falsifying just one of the symptoms of Schizophrenia, that of audio hallucinations. Rosenhan’s study, ‘On Being Sane in Insane Places’ raises questions about procedures in mental health services in America mainly concerning admissions and discharge criteria for hospitals and institutions and the way in which the staff would treat and interact with the patients, also that of the suitability of the staff to deal with and treat mentally ill patients.


Research is valid if it can be proven to be accurate. Rosenhan’s study presents evidence in his findings that relate to validity. The research looks into whether medical staff working at American institutions could make a reliable and accurate distinction between sanity and insanity. Since he and his other pseudo-patients were able...