Monday, 16 December 2013

Book Review: The Psychopath Test

Jon Ronson The Psychopath Test
(Reading definitely requires a good snack)

"In this madcap journey, a bestselling journalist investigates psychopaths and the industry of doctors, scientists, and everyone else who studies them."

I'm usually the type of girl to pick up a fiction novel rather than a gritty, real life account but this was recommended to me and I was intrigued.

Ronson sets out on a mission to uncover a mystery, and as the pieces come together he ends up learning about various mental health disorders and the characteristics of diagnosing a psychopath. With an engaing, very personal writing style Ronson narrates his way through interviews with so-called psychopaths, associated family members and doctors, dissecting treatment methods and the check lists which field specialists are using to diagnose so many members of society. A running theme throughout is that of just how many high functioning, successful individuals would be labelled as a psychopath according to a checklist designed by Bob Hare, a clinical psychology researcher.

I found myself completely enthralled in this book, despite Ronson flitting from one case study to another. I understand that he wanted to include as many cases as possible, but I felt that we weren't given enough information about each person and found myself hitting the internet to find out more. However, he let his interviewees use their own voice within the book, rather than paraphrasing allowing the reader to form their own conclusions.

I'm struggling a little to form a coherent opinion about this, as I think The Psychopath Test has really just ignited a curiosity about the subject and left me wanting more. I've always had an interest in mental health, and the one thing that you really take away from this book is society's current views on the subject. There are different levels of what we define as "crazy" or "mad" or any of the other labels you wish to use, and too often we are diagnosing behaviours which really, we just don't know how to deal with. Rather than try to get to the base of behaviours, we label, dish out medications and pray that it stops.

As a first time reader of Ronson's, I enjoyed his writing style and will definitely pick up one of his other titles.

“There is no evidence that we've been placed on this planet to be especially happy or especially normal. And in fact our unhappiness and our strangeness, our anxieties and compulsions, those least fashionable aspects of our personalities, are quite often what lead us to do rather interesting things.”
― Jon Ronson

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love reading your comments, so please leave a wee message!