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A Road Trip of Psychopathic Proportions
Book Love
stainsteelrat
So I finished Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test last night... or early this morning. It continued to be an excellent book, and hard to put down. It doesn't really come to any specific conclusion* about psychopathy and mental health, a little like a Louis Theroux documentary, but there's that underlying feeling towards the end of the book that mental health diagnosis is (a) often taken too far and too seriously (b) is a black art to some degree and (c) often involves too much medication. Conversely though, there are some seriously dangerous psychopaths in this world, and identifying them is tricky and necessary. Like a lot of things, there's a difficult balance to be struck.

*At least not that I remember, as my memories of the end are slightly fuzzy.

There are a number of fascinating anecdotes in the book. One involves a researcher who was testing some theories on the reactions of psychopaths to certain stimuli using an EEG e.g. pictures of mutilated bodies. He caught-himself-a-psychopath when a charming attractive 19-year old woman started reacting to the pictures. It transpired she had tried to join the RAF, to satisfy her urges for death, but they had fortunately (arguably) uncovered her tendencies and refused the application. He couldn't do anything per se as she was an anonymous member of the test group, and hadn't done anything wrong.

In summary it's an interesting read for those interested in psychopathy, and the roots of psychiatric diagnosis.

I've got my next book already, which is another by Jon Ronson. This time it's a collection of stories from some of his newspaper writing called Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness.

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