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The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industryby Jon Ronson
Synopses & Reviews
For more than two years, author and psychotherapist Gary Greenberg has embedded himself in the war that broke out over the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—the DSM—the American Psychiatric Associations compendium of mental illnesses and what Greenberg calls the book of woe.”
Since its debut in 1952, the book has been frequently revised, and with each revision, the official” view on which psychological problems constitute mental illness. Homosexuality, for instance, was a mental illness until 1973, and Aspergers gained recognition in 1994 only to see its status challenged nearly twenty years later. Each revision has created controversy, but the DSM-5, the newest iteration, has shaken psychiatry to its foundations. The APA has taken fire from patients, mental health practitioners, and former members for extending the reach of psychiatry into daily life by encouraging doctors to diagnose more illnesses and prescribe more therapies—often medications whose efficacy is unknown and whose side effects are severe. Critics—including Greenberg—argue that the APA should not have the naming rights to psychological pain or to the hundreds of millions of dollars the organization earns, especially when even the DSMs staunchest defenders acknowledge that the disorders listed in the book are not real illnesses.
Greenbergs account of the history behind the DSM, which has grown from pamphlet-sized to encyclopedic since it was first published, and his behind-the-scenes reporting of the deeply flawed process by which the DSM-5 has been revised, is both riveting and disturbing. Anyone who has received a diagnosis of mental disorder, filed a claim with an insurer, or just wondered whether daily troubles qualify as true illness should know how the DSM turns suffering into a commodity, and the APA into its own biggest beneficiary. Invaluable and informative, The Book of Woe is bound to spark intense debate among expert and casual readers alike.
"In this engrossing exploration of psychiatry's attempts to understand and treat psychopathy, British journalist Ronson (whose The Men Who Stare at Goats was the basis for the 2009 movie starring George Clooney) reveals that psychopaths are more common than we'd like to think. Visiting Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital, where some of Britain's worst criminal offenders are sent, Ronson discovers the difficulties of diagnosing the complex disorder when he meets one inmate who says he feigned psychopathy to get a lighter sentence, and instead has spent 12 years in Broadmoor. The psychiatric community's criteria for diagnosing psychopathy (which isn't listed in its handbook, DSM-IV) is a checklist developed by the Canadian prison psychologist Robert Hare. Using Hare's rubric, which includes 'glibness,' 'grandiose sense of self-worth,' and 'lack of remorse,' Ronson sets off to interview possible psychopaths, many of them in positions of power, from a former Haitian militia leader to a power-hungry CEO. Raising more questions than it answers, and far from a dry medical history lesson, this book brings droll wit to buoy this fascinating journey through 'the madness business.' (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The memoir of a neuroscientist whose research led him to a bizarre personal discovery
James Fallon had spent an entire career studying how our brains affect our behavior when his research suddenly turned personal. While studying brain scans of several family members, he discovered that one perfectly matched a pattern hed found in the brains of serial killers. This meant one of two things: Either his familys scans had been mixed up with those of felons or someone in his family was a psychopath.
Even more disturbing: The scan in question was his own.
This is Fallons account of coming to grips with this discovery and its implications. How could he, a happy family man who had never been prone to violence, be a psychopath? How much did his biology influence his behavior?
Fallon shares his journey to answer these questions and the discoveries that ultimately led to his conclusion: Despite everything science can teach, humans are even more complex than we can imagine.
New York Timesand#150;bestselling author of The Psychopath Test Jon Ronson writes about the dark, uncanny sides of humanity with clarity and humor. Lost at Seaand#151;now with new materialand#151;reveals how deep our collective craziness lies, even in the most mundane circumstances.
Ronson investigates the strange things weand#8217;re willing to believe in, from robots programmed with our loved onesand#8217; personalities to indigo children to the Insane Clown Posseand#8217;s juggalo fans. He looks at ordinary lives that take on extraordinary perspectives. Among them: a pop singer whose greatest passion is the coming alien invasion, assisted-suicide practitioners, and an Alaskan townand#8217;s Christmas-induced high school mass-murder plot. He explores all these tales with a sense of higher purpose and universality, yet they are stories not about the fringe of society. They are about all of us. Incisive and hilarious, poignant and maddening, revealing and disturbingand#151;Ronson writes about our modern world, and reveals how deep our collective craziness lies, and the chaos stirring at the edge of our daily lives.
About the Author
Jon Ronson's books include the New York Times bestseller The Psychopath Test, and Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats-both international bestsellers. The Men Who Stare at Goats was adapted as a major motion picture, released in 2009 and starring George Clooney. Ronson lives in London and New York City.
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