December 8, 2012

Review: The Psychopath Test

Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry is a collection of stories and interviews that question the mental health system and the possibility of psychopaths in society. It is entertaining and engaging, without going over the deep end, as some of these books tend to do.

This book really spoke to me, as I have entered into a position in the mental health system that is very new to me. In my previous jobs, I have been on the fringes of the formal system, working with non-profits with people whose lives are affected by others that have mental illness (loss by suicide or having a family member), to working with more of the worried well, as a counsellor in the community. I will now be working on a team where I will be asked to engage in provisional diagnosis and detainment under the Mental Health Act. It's odd going from the outside to the inside, but it may also be helpful as I work.

The book questions some of our modern tools, including Hare's Psychopath Checklist, and the use of checklists in general in order to diagnose. One of the more engaging sections is where an innovative psychiatrist attempts to "cure" a group of hospitalized "psychopaths" using techniques from the human potential movement. The results are frightening.

In the end, the book poses more questions than it answers (as do most good books, I suppose). It is a good read on many levels and I highly suggest you check it out!



Kelly Dixon said...

I enjoyed it, too. The audiobook is read by the author, and his anxiety and tenitive awkwardness comes out in a most hilarious way.

whatsyourgrief said...

I also really enjoyed this book too. There is a really good episode of This American Life. You can listen to it online:

antiSWer said...

Cool, I'll have to check that out. I love This American Life

daniel robert said...

Thanks for telling about the book. I will gonna buy this because as I am doing health and safety course
so this book will help me in understanding different variations. I appreciate your suggestion for this book.

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