Monday, November 14, 2011

Final Chapters

In chapter 19 of the Psychopath Test, Ronson discusses the consequences of misjudging abnormality and diagnosing it as a mental disorder. He provides several cases to support his claim. Like 13 year old Rebecca Riley. One night Riley had trouble sleeping due to a cold so she walked into her mother's room where her mom simply gave her some of her bipolar medication and cold medicine. The next morning the mother found her daughter dead on the floor next to her. The autopsy revealed that her parents had overdosed her on her bipolar medication, which had no yet been approved for the use of children. Her parents gave her these pills so they wouldn't have to deal with her behavior. Both parents were convicted of Riley's murder and when Katie Couric interviewed Riley's mother she admitted to thinking that Riley most likely did not have bipolar disorder but was instead hyper for her age. This is the exact point that Ronson is trying to make. Just because someone doesn't fit the definition of "normal behavior" it is assumed that they have a disorder. Ronson also recognizes that being diagnosed with a disorder gives that person a feeling of relief because now they can start a treatment plan and work on getting better.

I thought that last chapter of the book made Ronson seem sort of hypocritical. The whole story consisted of him meeting with potential psychopaths, matching their characteristics with Hare's checklist, and diagnosing them as psychopaths. But then in the last chapter he addressed the issue of misjudging people and the idea of labeling someone because they don't fit the definition of "normal". But yet he was doing that to these people during the story? So I guess I was sort of confused by that. He also admits to maybe getting caught up in the power of having the Hare checklist which could be part of the reason why he was constantly judging people. But I do agree with Ronson when talks about doctors diagnosing people just to give them a "term". I know I would rather be diagnosed with something instead of being told they don't know what is wrong with me.

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