abnormal psychology quot schizophrenia quot

Labeling Theory

Minimum 700 words

Many sociocultural theorists have argued that schizophrenic symptoms may be caused by the diagnosis itself. They use “labeling theory” to explain at least some of the etiology of schizophrenia. The logic is as follows: once a patient is diagnosed as “out of touch with reality,” he or she is more likely to conform to the diagnosis. They may even be positively reinforced for “schizophrenic behavior,” since the diagnostician wishes to confirm his/her diagnosis. Rosenhan’s (1973) study provides a graphic illustration of the tendency for people to see what they expect based on a label. Volunteers presented themselves to psychiatrists with the manufactured “symptom” of hearing voices that said “empty,” “hollow,” and “thud.” They were hospitalized and continued to be viewed as having schizophrenia despite the fact that they were, and were behaving as, normal people. Many current theorists grant that labeling can be dangerous and can have a deleterious effect on psychiatric patients. Few, however, agree that schizophrenia is “created by society” or is the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy due to labeling. The cross-cultural, biological, and genetic evidence is simply too powerful.

What does this experiment say about the role of context in influencing our interpretations of abnormal behavior? Can you come up with other behaviors that would have been misinterpreted in this situation? What do you see as the benefits and as the potential costs of labeling both symptoms and disorders?

The study the prompt is talking about is uploaded BELOW!

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