Review: The Great Pretender by Susannah Calahan

Review by Darlene G.

Book available on November 5, 2019

Overall Rating 2/10

Summary: Susannah Cahalan’s The Great Pretender follows the development (?) of psychiatric conditions in mental institutions in the U.S.A. She provides a rather lengthy discussion on the medical and psychiatric discoveries and their consequences for the patients. The book revolves around David Rosenhans and his experiment with having people gain entry into asylums or mental hospitals although they were not mentally ill. He himself did this.

Review: Even as a holder of a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, I found the book hard to read. Up until page 80, the writing was technical in nature. I understood it but it was still difficult to read with many references to different studies, professors, historical figures and mental institutions. At page 80, we are given information about Dr. Rosenhans experience in a mental institution. It is very revealing. I would recommend that portion of the book, however, the rest was way too dry for me. I was hoping to read the accounts of all seven participants in the study but only minor references were made to them. This book made me glad that I already have my degree.

EDIT – FOLLOW UP FROM LIZ @ Caprichos Books!

I met the author last week at my convention and was discussing this book with some fellow booksellers. I’m pretty fascinated by the story and I look forward to reading it myself. I discovered there is a twist that isn’t quite discussed in the original review so I look forward to hearing what the other readers think when the book comes out next week.

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