Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Psychopaths Dream in Black and White

         In chapter 3 of Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test entitled "Psychopaths Dream in Black and White", Jon Ronson tells of his journey through the studies of Elliot Barker to answer the question: How could psychopaths be cured? Elliot Barker was a psychiatrist in the 60's that took a year long trip to explore the diverse therapeutic communities. From each place that Barker visited he took a little bit of therapeutic techniques with him. Until he came to the Oak Ridge hospital in Ontario for the criminally insane patients, where he put all his findings into action. He set up "The Capsule", which was a room where patients were secured, completely naked and required to talk about their feelings. This capsule appeared to heal these psychopaths that were held in Oak Ridge, and in time they were released back into society. Almost immediately after being released these psychopaths went right back to committing crimes, such as rape and murder, once again. This technique of curing psychopathic behaviors created by Elliot Barker turned out to be an aid to these criminally insane patients, teaching them to manipulate themselves to act normal.

         This chapter was very interesting because of the fact that the whole time they explained a process that was developed to end psychopathic behavior by sitting in a room naked with other psychopaths, but then at the end it was decided that this process didn't help at all and actually taught criminals how to manipulate themselves even more. Another part of this chapter that was interesting to me was the descriptions of Kingsley Hall. I was extremely baffled while Ronson was talking to Adrian Laing about how different one schizophrenic can be from another. He described the room of one schizophrenic to be adorned with silk drapery and costumes compared to another schizophrenic patient who was kept in the basement where they smeared feces all over the walls. I thought these two patients seemed on two opposite sides of the spectrum, but then i realized that they both were actually very similar, in that they both were very creative. Each schizophrenic just expressed their creativity differently. The differences of symptoms in 2 very similar diagnosis is something that intrigues me and I want to learn more!