Adventures in Books… The Psychopath Test

“What if society wasn’t fundamentally rational, but was motivated by insanity? This thought sets Jon Ronson on an utterly compelling adventure into the world of madness. Along the way, Jon meets psychopaths, those whose lives have been touched by madness and those whose job it is to diagnose it, including the influential psychologist who developed the Psychopath Test, from whom Jon learns the art of psychopath-spotting. A skill which seemingly reveals that madness could indeed be at the heart of everything . . . Combining Jon’s trademark humour, charm and investigative incision, The Psychopath Test is both entertaining and honest, unearthing dangerous truths and asking serious questions about how we define normality in a world where we are increasingly judged by our maddest edges.”

I am really getting into reading non-fiction books. This is something I hated even a couple of years a go, but reading self help books and books on topics I am interested in has opened up my world to other non-fiction subjects.

This is what led me to this book. I found it via my Goodreads recommendations (not sure what that says about my bookshelves!) and have had it on my kindle for a while and not gotten round to reading it. But I have been on a reading roll these past couple of weeks and thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I have been reading lots of things centred around mental illness in the last year, but have stayed clear of books on the subject. However I now feel in a place where I can read this subject area without judging myself in every paragraph. I ahve a few depression related books on my to-read list I am looking forward to reading.

This was a funny and thought-provoking book. It centres around the idea of having a check list to compare someone against and then be able to label them as mentally ill. The author found that having the understanding of the list gave him the power to label everyone. It was interesting to see how the mind works when you are given information to use how you wish, without the context of a job to do it in. Like the author I think I would start spotting psychopaths everywhere!

Mental illness is still a taboo subject. I have worked hard to be able to be more open with others and myself about what I am going through, but there are definitely times and people that I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t label myself as a depressed person. I think of myself as struggling at the moment and working to overcome it. It is slowly becoming more ‘normal’, if you will, to seek help. But even the book hints that becoming normal might not be the best things. Is it the easy way out to stick a label on someone and put them on medication? It probably is. Getting the right help from people is hard. Trusting people enough to talk to them when you feel alone is extremely hard – the worst bit for me!

I really enjoyed this book. I felt for the people the author spoke to and the author himself. The book treats the subject as interesting and the author wants to learn. Not to come up with a conclusion, but rather to understand how we got to the present. I want to read more in the area now. I have a couple of books on my to-read list that focus on the journey through depression and I now feel I am in a good place to read these.

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