A Delightful Exposé of Ancient and Modern Psychiatry
Professor of the Classics Michael Fontaine PhD was so interesting and inspiring two weeks ago talking about ancient pandemics that I asked him back to talk about two other amazing historical events: One is recent, from the 1970s: the famous Rosenhan study, called On Being Sane in Insane Places. Like many critics of conventional psychiatry, I was enamored with it. Rosenhan sent normal volunteers into emergency rooms, instructing them to act entirely normal except to say they were hearing a voice saying “Thud.” They were all locked up and given psychiatric drugs, and only other patients suspected they were not real patients. Or so David Rosenhan’s “scientific” tour de[PB1] force supposedly unfolded. It turns out he conned us, not the psychiatrists. It’s an incredible story. Michael follows up with yet another amazing story, very old: A Roman play based on an even more ancient Greek play that offers a spoof on psychiatry and probably the first ever portrayal of abusive involuntary treatment. Great stuff from a great and amusing scholar.