Friday, December 14, 2012

The Psychopath Test

Jon Ronson is an investigative journalist. Intrigued by a mystery he sets out on an enquiry into a very unusual hand-made book that has been sent to a number of people involved in psychiatry in various ways.

His investigation leads him half-way round the world, to renowned current and struck-off discredited psychiatrists and psychologists, to members of the Scientology movement and to secure institutions.
It is a funny, yet worrying, book. Along the way Ronson comes across the tests for psychopathy and discovers that he ticks many of the boxes himself. He finds out it is very difficult to prove you are sane once sectioned and institutionalised.
In one of the most troubling parts of the saga an experiment is described where some volunteers feigned madness to obtain in-patient status at a mental-health unit. Once in (the only lies they have told are to obtain access) they behave normally. It takes up to two months for some of them to be 'released'. Finding out about the experiment the institutions ask that it be repeated. This time forty-one bogus applicants are refused help. In fact no further volunteers had been sent. All the apparently bogus were genuinely seeking help.

It covers 'Cracker' type psychological profiling, explains how we are all a bit bonkers and there but for the grace of god etc and, finally, wraps up the mysterious book with a truth that is much less interesting than the voyage of discovery to which it led.

A page-turner. Read it and become a psychopath spotter. You will.

1 comment:

MadPriest said...

A good book. I recommend Jon Ronson's own reading of the book on audiobook.