I think its safe to say, I am now an Audible Addict! I never have time to read, Audible has set me free!
I recommend this book to anyone interested in the mechanics of the world of mental health. The depth of research is palpable. The writing has integrity, honesty and passion for the truth. Informative without being patronising. Delivered with respectful intelligence and just the right level of detail to maintain balance between entertainment and the seriousness of subject matter. Ronson's unique style is both enthralling and inspiring.
This is the first book I've tried by Jon Ronson. I really enjoyed his self-awareness when writing: he seems to express his own flaws in his opinions at the same time as expressing the opinion itself. Having the book really by him probably made this even better, though my partner found his voice a bit grating.
The material was also brilliant. The question of where mental illness begins and where where wellness ends is a big one. The book doesn't answer it, but it will definitely provoke discussion.
I was very shocked by the views of many in the book of people with psychopathy. There were small things, like calling the poeple psychopaths, rather than people with psychopathy, and there were bigger issues about seeing the poeple as different and to blame. The attitudes of many in the book that were like this went unquestioned or were promulgated by Ron for most of the book I think; only at the end did he challenge Bob Hare on his attitude. I'm not sure if this was done deliberately to allow the listener to question it themselves throughout the book or not though. I think that while most of us have agency, we should still recognise when genetics and environment have pushed someone toward a path and it might be more difficult for them to behave a certain way, and may not be their fault that they behave the way they do.
Highly recommended, but listen to the sample beforehand to check you like his narration.
challenging, disturbing, engaging
His first visit to Broadmoor
I am a big Jon Ronson fan and have read quite a few of his books. I usualy find plenty of things to laugh at in them but this is actually a very serious book. This has relatively few lighthearted moments so perhaps not 100% typical of his work
lunatics running the asylum?
It deals with the psychiatric profession in a way that I haven't seen before. I always assumed that they were experts and knew just about everything. By chapter 3 I didn't trust any of them. By the middle of the book I trusted them again. At the end I was not that clear what I thought. Having it read by the author always adds a touch of realism and authenticity, I would definitley recommend this.
It's always a bit of a gamble reading something in your own line of work and I generally expect to be a bit irritated. I was a bit irritated occasionally when Jon Robson seemed to see psychopathy, developmental disorders, eccentricity, psychosis, low mood, ptsd etc etc as one big mass of 'madness', but in fairness, he is a journalist, not a psychologist and he did tease out many of the interesting issues that we all ponder too. I was never totally clear what the book was supposed to be about. It certainly isn't just about psychopathy, but it's probably all the better for that. All in all I'd recommend it - but if you're not a mental health professional and you're particularly interested in an issue he brings up, do do your own research as well.
Ronson reviews the classic test for psychopathy and reappraises it, acknowledging its complexity and the dangers of simply using it to pigeonhole people. An intriguing appraisal, and well performed (if you like JRs somewhat flat delivery.)
I've always enjoyed Jon Ronson's writing and after hearing an extract from this book in an episode of This American Life I wanted to hear the rest. His approach to the people he interviewed was really objective and he let them tell their own stories, while ultimately all pointed to similar conclusions. Very interesting stuff.
Fascinating book which benefits from the author's delivery. At times surprising, scary and very funny, as well as informative. I cannot praise this book too highly.