Non-Fiction: The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

Because I am a big dork. If you haven’t figured that out by now I am sorry but now you know. I have watched a ridiculous amount of documentaries regarding asylums. I got interested a few years ago when I came across an article about a woman who had herself committed to document the treatment of people that were in asylums. This led me to a news report that Geraldo (when he was still doing real news) had recorded. I have always wondered about where many of our mental health diagnosis have come from. With this in mind when I received The Great Pretender I was so excited to read it. Thank you Grand Central Publishing for my review copy.

Synopsis: An in-depth study of the David Rosenhan study regarding asylums and madness.

What I liked: Cahalan’s writing is engaging and conversational which made what could have been very dry material engaging. I loved the way she approached the history of asylums and psychiatry. I appreciated the way she brought her own issues into the story and expanded upon on what could have happened to her. The pacing of the book was perfect for the story that Calahan was telling.

What I didn’t like: Nothing

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: Holy Moly!!! I loved this amazing non-fiction book. I devoured it in a couple of days. The material was engaging and not dry at all. What I found really interesting through the story was how her opinion of Rosenhan changed. She didn’t condemn him as some researchers would have but rather she was empathetic to what he was trying to show the world. I also really enjoyed the fact that she explored how the results of his study caused ripples throughout psychiatry.

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