The undercover patients developed their fictive biographies in months of meetings with an acting coach and a psychotherapist. “Ronald,” for example, was a middle-aged man with a history of aggression problems, and after a supposed suicide attempt he was taken to De Riethorst by an actor playing his brother. To make their stories believable, the patients memorized details about where their children went to school or which supermarket they shopped at, and the psychotherapist advised them on how to present their given mental illness convincingly.
To ensure their safety, the fake patients checked in via text message every three hours, and they carried letters identifying them as plants. A code word (“fireplace”) was in place if they had to communicate genuine distress to visitors. The visitors wore hidden cameras and microphones; the undercover patients did not.
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