Rosenhan and Eqbal’s arguments


According to sociologists, deviant behavior refers to failure to conform to customs or laws of a certain group. The set of laws usually differ from one group to another and from one society to another. For instance, watching videos is a normal behavior among the American citizens whereas the same is seen as a deviant behavior by the Amish (Schafer, 2008, 178-216).

The following essay examines the articles by Rosenhan (1973) and the speech by Eqbal (1998) to explain the sociological approach to deviance. It also examines how the two authors would deal with deviance in society based on their assessments.

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Summary of Rosenhan and Eqbal’s arguments

The article by Rosenhan (1973), “On being sane in insane places”, discusses a situation whereby people with sound mind were treated as if they were insane and were admitted to a mental hospital. Staff in the mental institution did not have a clue that these people were pretending and that they were insane.

Actually, these people were psychiatrists who were on a mission to observe the responses of others who were admitted to the hospital. The psychiatric professionals kept them in hospital for many days and they were all treated with powerful medications. Rosenhan then asserts that psychiatric professionals face a major challenge of identifying the sane people from the insane in mental institutions.

The main reason behind this experiment was to expose the dangers of labeling others in the society. From the experiment, it is extremely hard to distinguish mad people from the sane in mental institutions. According to Rosenhan, doctors should conduct a thorough investigation before considering whether a patient is to be admitted or not. Also, doctors should refrain from relying entirely on patient’s report because many patients fake their illnesses (Bowers, 2004, P. 24).

Ahmad (1998), in his speech, “Terrorism, theirs and ours”, tried to convince the audience that terrorism matters are complicated. He recalled stories that explain that yesterday’s terrorist is today’s hero. According to him, terrorism is a serious issue in contemporary world. There are many inconsistencies as far as definition of terrorism is concerned. People should therefore make effort to know the real meaning of terrorism. People should also know the main causes of terrorism and how it can be avoid (Ahmad, 1998, P. 1-16).

The authors’ point in writing their articles

Rosenhan aim of writing his article is to explain the hypothesis that: psychiatric specialist’s lacks capacity to differentiate between individuals who have sound mind and those who are mad. He emphasizes that clinical staff usually misinterpret behavior by relying on patients’ information.

According to him, psychiatrists make mistakes while making judgments regarding patient’s treatment. In his article, he criticizes medical staff for failing to detect the sanity status of people. Also, David Rosenhan’s objective of writing his article was to explain the effects of one being misdiagnosed with insanity (Bowers, 2004, P. 24).

With this regards, he proved his point by conducting a study on eight pseudo patients who pretended to be insane. The pseudo patients who included three women and five men from diverse backgrounds gained admittance into various psychiatric hospitals across the United States.

Interestingly, the staff at the mental hospitals considered the patients insane after they were admitted. The doctors failed to categorize the mental illness symptoms. Once they were admitted, the patients dropped their pretences of insanity. However, the mental institutions continued to offer them treatment and were not ready to release them. Rosenhan believed that this is a major problem because the doctors failed to conduct sufficient study to detect the insanity of the patients (Bowers, 2004, P. 24).

His evidence about deviance and society in general is that, it is hard to tell if a certain behavior is moral or not in the society. This is because the society is comprised of both morally upright and deviants. It is therefore hard to distinguish between those who are deviants and those who are not. Rosenhan’s article is evident that deviants are often labeled. What constitutes deviance remains a puzzle and thus, deviant behaviors are labeled by the individuals and the society (Bowers, 2004, P. 24).

Ahmad (1998), in writing the paper was of the view that inconsistency exists as far as definition of the term terrorism is concerned. He also wanted to show that people holds various views regarding those who carry out terrorism and the factors that causes it.

The author proves his point by telling stories concerning the relationship between the United States and Muslim world. The author stresses that since the Second World War, the United States have been using Islam fundamentalism with a view of combating Communism in Middle East and Southern Asia.

He criticizes the United States government and regarded those people it worked with in the past as terrorists. In the past, the U.S held close ties with what it now considers as terrorist groups. In the past, United States provided funds to these groups to attack its enemies in the Muslim World. However, relations have turned out to be sour and yesterday’s friends have become today’s enemies. With this regards, the author wanted to prove the fact that terrorists change (Ahmad, 1998, P. 1-16).

His evidence about deviance and society in general is that, in our contemporary world, it is hard to define who is a deviant, who practices deviant behaviors and the main causes of deviant behaviors. He also points out that it is hard to stop deviant behaviors in the society as the deviant of yesterday is a changed man tomorrow (Ahmad, 1998, P. 1-16).

Reference List

Ahmad, E. (1998). Terrorism: Theirs and Ours. Colorado: University of Colorado Retrieved on 11 September 2011 from <>

Bowers, L. (2004). The Social Nature of Mental Illness. London: Routledge

Schafer, R. (2008). Sociology Matters 4th Ed. New York: Mc Graw Hill.


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