The Great Pretender Audiobook Cover

The Great Pretender

Christie MoreauSusannah Cahalan

Susannah Cahalan's book, The Great Pretender, takes readers on a journey through a bold experiment conducted in the 1970s by psychologist David Rosenhan. Eight mentally stable individuals, including Rosenhan himself, went undercover in asylums to test the legitimacy of psychiatry's labels. The shocking diagnoses and troubling treatments they experienced led to a revolution in the field of mental health. However, Cahalan's research reveals an untold truth behind this experiment, challenging the commonly accepted narrative. This thought-provoking book raises important questions about our understanding of mental illness today and is a must-read for anyone interested in the history and future of psychiatry.

USD 0 14.95



In the world of mental health, the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses have always been a subject of debate and controversy. How do we define mental illness? How do we recognize it? These are questions that have plagued doctors and psychologists for centuries. In her book The Great Pretender, Susannah Cahalan delves into the intriguing story of a groundbreaking experiment that forever changed our understanding of psychiatry and the treatment of mental illness.

The Experiment that Changed Everything

In the 1970s, a psychologist named David Rosenhan conducted a daring experiment that would shake the foundations of psychiatry. Along with seven other individuals, Rosenhan went undercover and admitted himself into various mental asylums across America. The catch? All eight participants were sane, mentally stable individuals.

Their goal was to test the legitimacy of psychiatry's labels and to uncover the truth behind mental health diagnosis. The plan was simple: they had to convince the doctors and staff that they were mentally ill, and then prove themselves sane. Little did they know that their experiment would have far-reaching consequences.

Alarming Diagnoses and Troubling Stories

What happened to Rosenhan and his fellow participants inside these asylums was nothing short of shocking. Despite displaying no signs of mental illness, they were given alarming diagnoses and subjected to disturbing treatments. Their experiences shed light on the flaws and biases within the psychiatric system.

Rosenhan's groundbreaking study sparked a revolution in psychiatry, leading to the closure of many institutions and a reevaluation of mental health diagnosis. Mental illness could no longer be defined solely based on observations and assumptions.

The Untold Truth

However, as Cahalan's in-depth research reveals, there is much more to this saga than meets the eye. Her book uncovers the untold story of what really happened behind those closed asylum doors. She challenges the commonly accepted narrative and presents a thought-provoking alternative perspective.

Implications for Mental Health Today

What does all of this mean for our understanding of mental illness today? Cahalan's exploration of this 50-year-old mystery forces us to question our current diagnostic practices and the treatment of mental health issues.

It is a must-read for those interested in the history of psychiatry, mental health advocacy, and the ongoing efforts to improve our understanding and treatment of mental illness.


The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan is a captivating and eye-opening book that challenges our preconceived notions about mental health and psychiatry. It is a testament to the power of investigative journalism and the tenacity of those who dare to question the status quo.

Through Cahalan's meticulous research and engaging storytelling, readers are taken on a journey that unveils the truth behind a groundbreaking experiment and its lasting impact on the field of psychiatry. This book will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about mental illness.

Additional Info

Book Name: The Great Pretender
Book Format: AudiobookFormat
Authors: Susannah Cahalan
Narrators: Christie MoreauSusannah Cahalan
Genres: Health & Wellness
Audiobook Length: 11H3M
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Language: English
Publish Date: 2019-11-05
Last Price: 14.95 USD

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the book 'The Great Pretender' about?

'The Great Pretender' is a propulsive narrative history investigating the 50-year-old mystery behind a dramatic experiment that changed the course of modern medicine. It delves into the struggle to define mental illness and the experiment conducted by Stanford psychologist David Rosenhan in the 1970s, where he and seven others went undercover into asylums to test psychiatry's labels.

What impact did Rosenhan's study have on psychiatry?

Rosenhan's study broke open the field of psychiatry, leading to the closing down of institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever. It raised questions about the legitimacy of psychiatric labels and the treatment of patients in asylums. It had a significant impact on the field and the understanding of mental illness.

What does Susannah Cahalan's research reveal about the saga?

Susannah Cahalan's research reveals that there is more to the saga than meets the eye. It uncovers the truth behind what happened behind closed asylum doors during Rosenhan's study and challenges some of the commonly held beliefs about the experiment. Her research adds depth and nuance to the story, shedding light on the complexities of the mental health system.

What are some of the criticisms of the book?

Some readers have found the book to be slow-paced and tangential at times. There are also criticisms that the author lacks the appropriate background in psychology or psychiatry to interpret the data and draw meaningful conclusions. Additionally, some readers felt that the book took a different direction towards the end, leaving them unsure of the overall message.

What topics are covered in the book?

The book covers the history of psychiatry, the treatment of mental illness in institutions, the concept of psychiatric labels, the replication crisis in psychology, new methods of treatment, and new models of disorders. It also touches on the ethics of clinical research and provides a critique of the mental health system in America.


11 reviews for this audiobook
  • Em
    Emma 06-Oct-2023

    The Great Pretender is an incredible audiobook that captivates the reader from start to finish. The way Susannah Cahalan tells her story is so engaging and personal, it feels like you're right there with her. 5 stars!

  • Ja
    Jake 07-Oct-2023

    I couldn't put down The Great Pretender. Cahalan's storytelling ability is exceptional and she really brings her experiences to life. Highly recommend. 5 stars!

  • So
    Sophia 21-Oct-2023

    The Great Pretender is a gripping and thought-provoking audiobook. Cahalan's writing style is both captivating and relatable. 5 stars!

  • Ol
    Olivia 08-Nov-2023

    I absolutely loved The Great Pretender. Cahalan's exploration of mental health and the medical industry is eye-opening and important. 5 stars!

  • Ai
    Aiden 24-Nov-2023

    The Great Pretender is a must-listen. Cahalan's storytelling is so vivid and powerful, it leaves a lasting impact. 5 stars!

  • Ch
    Chloe 04-Dec-2023

    The Great Pretender is an incredibly powerful audiobook. Cahalan's bravery and resilience shine through her words. Highly recommend. 5 stars!

  • Et
    Ethan 03-Jan-2024

    I was completely immersed in The Great Pretender. Cahalan's ability to share her personal journey is both heart-wrenching and inspiring. 5 stars!

  • Li
    Lily 14-Feb-2024

    The Great Pretender is an absolute page-turner. Cahalan's writing is so compelling, you won't be able to put it down. 5 stars!

  • Ma
    Mason 17-Mar-2024

    The Great Pretender is a must-read for anyone interested in mental health and the human mind. Cahalan's story is both enlightening and captivating. 5 stars!

  • So
    Sophie 04-Apr-2024

    I can't praise The Great Pretender enough. Cahalan's storytelling ability is extraordinary and her courage is admirable. 5 stars!

  • Ja
    Jackson 14-Apr-2024

    The Great Pretender is a deeply moving audiobook. Cahalan's writing is honest and raw, making it impossible not to feel connected to her story. 5 stars!

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