Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ronson Chapter Three

In The Psychopath Test, Ronson talks about some extreme measures that previous psychiatrists took to try to cure psychopathy.  One psychiatrist in particular, Elliott Barker, became very intrigued at the thought of helping cure psychopaths, and based his work off of work another psychiatrist did in the past.  This work included being nude and spending lengthy sessions in therapy with other nude patients.  Elliot Barker worked with psychopaths for several years in an institution called Oak Ridge, and when it was time for him to leave, Gary Maier was there to take over.  As psychopaths were deemed healthy, and released from Oak Ridge, people started to notice there was a high rate of second offenses.  The psychopaths that received treatment at Oak Ridge had a much higher rate of re-offense than the psychopaths from a routine institution.  Having said this, its clear that Elliot's methods made the symptoms of a psychopath much worse and in a way, taught them to manipulate people better.

This chapter of Ronson's, The Psychopath Test, was so interesting.   The tactics Elliot used to try to cure psychopathy seemed fairly reasonable when I was reading the chapter.  It made some sense how physical nakedness could symbolize emotional nakedness, and be a more vulnerable state for patients to delve into their deepest emotions.  It sounded crazy at first, but after hearing the reasoning I started understand why a psychiatrist would want to try this method.   It is too bad that Elliot's methods and all his hard work turned out to be worse for the patients.  There was a quote at the end of the chapter about how "Elliot's heart was always in the right place", and I believe that, so it must have been devastating to learn that his treatments did not benefit his patients on bit.  Overall this chapter was intriguing and contained some important background knowledge about the treatment of psychopathy.