Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Psychopath Test- Chapter 3

In this chapter, Jon Ronson explores the Canadian psychiatrist Elliot Barker and learns about his unique ideas and experiments in treating psychopaths. Elliot had witnessed a nude psychotherapy session and thought that it would be an effective way to help psychopaths rid themselves of their madness and free them from he institution. He was allowed to test out his experiments at an asylum called Oak Ridge. Elliot would make the consenting patients take off all their clothes, give them hallucinogens and lock them in a room for days on end, allowing the psychopaths to essentially be each others' psychiatrists. Ronson later discovered that these psychopaths had a much higher rate of re-offending than the regular criminals who hadn't been through Elliot's strange program.

I thought this chapter was very interesting and I find that I have to constantly remind myself that this is a non-fiction book. This chapter was packed with very messed up information about psychopaths and it feels like this kind of stuff can't possibly actually happen. It seems hard to believe that an asylum would allow the kind of experiments that Elliot Barker was doing. It made me wonder why the institution wasn't concerned with the drug use and why they weren't more concerned with safety when they are locking all these dangerous, drugged up people in a room together. Where did Elliot receive his credentials to practice that kind of experiment? How did the psychopaths change after Elliot's program where they were able to get out of the institution? Also, for me, Ronson's writing style became a bit hard to follow this chapter. It seems choppy and doesn't flow as well, and I had to go back several times and reread to try and find a connection between things he was saying and having trouble piecing together the information. Overall, this is a very interesting book and I am excited to find out where it's heading!