Jon Ronson: What separates the mad man from healthy

Are there any objective grounds on which sick mind can be distinguished from healthy? As the socio-economic system can provoke the symptoms of psychopathy? Is faking madness a symptom of the madness? The answers to these questions trying to find Jon Ronson — author of the book "the psychopath Test" and Director of documentary movie that explores the issues of insanity, obsessions and mental disorders.

Forty seven million six hundred ninety two thousand one hundred sixty two

Sebastian Schramm

A small pamphlet for big trouble

The story began with the book "Guide for diagnosis of mental disorders" where it lists every known mental illness, I found her with her friend on the shelf. In 1950-ies of this guide was a thin pamphlet. Over time it became thicker and thicker. Today it is 886 pages, which describes 374 mental disorders. I took it from the shelf and flipping through, trying to figure out if I suffer from any mental disorders. I counted 12. I had a very common neurosis that goes without saying. I have haunting nightmares is to see off dreams in which he fails or becomes a victim of persecution. In all my dreams for me always someone chasing you and shouts: "You're a loser!". Also I have problems in parent-child relations, for which I blame my parents. I'm kidding. I'm not kidding. No, it was a joke. And I've got malingering. This, incidentally, is a rare and interesting combination of simulation and anxiety disorders. Because, as you know, malingering make me a lot of anxiety.

So I was flipping through the Handbook, trying to figure out how I'm crazy as I thought. Maybe that's a bad idea to diagnose yourself of mental disorder, not being a psychiatrist. Who knows, maybe the psychiatrists are peculiar strange desire to hang a label of mental disorder to normal human behavior. I thought it was a very interesting question, and decided to meet a critic of psychiatry to get their view. That's how I found myself at lunch with a Scientologist.

For Heero, the cause of the epidemic of psychopaths in the fact that capitalism in all its brutality encourages dysfunctional behavior: lack of empathy, sycophantic speech, cunning, manipulative. In fact, we can say that the brutal system of capitalism is the practical manifestation of psychopathy.

His name was Brian, he led the crack team of Scientologists who are determined to destroy psychiatry in all its manifestations. They're called the CCHR. I asked him: "can You prove that psychiatry is a pseudoscience that can't be trusted?"He said, "Yes, I can." And I say: "How?"He said, "let us introduce you to Tony." I said, "Who's Tony?"He said, "Tony's in Broadmoor." Meant Brodarica hospital. At the time it was known as Brodarica prison for the criminally insane. It's where they send the serial killers and the raving. I asked Brian what Tony did? He said nothing substantial. Beat someone up or something like that and decided to fake madness to avoid prison. But he faked it too well and got stuck in Broadmoor. Nobody believes that he's not crazy. "So, do you want us to arrange you a meeting with him?"I said, "Yes, please." I got the train to Broadmoor. Mid-way I started to yawn uncontrollably — I think the dogs also yawn when I'm nervous. In Broadmoor I was led through one door, then another one, and another one, and another to the recreation center where visitors meet the patients. This center looks like a giant hotel, where everything is decorated in calming green and peach colors. Only the call button is bright red. The room began to run patients. They were overweight and wearing sweatpants and looked quite docile. Brian the Scientologist whispered to me, "They're all on drugs," for Scientologists is the worst that you can imagine.

Secret striped suit

In walked a man. He was full, he was in very good physical shape. He wasn't wearing sweatpants, he was wearing a striped suit. He held out his hand, as the hero of the TV show "the Candidate". It seemed that he wanted to wear this costume to convince me of your sanity. He sat down. I asked: "is it True that you pretended to get here?"He replied: "Yes. Exactly. I beat someone when I was 17. I was in prison and awaiting trial, and my cellmate said to me, "you Know what you need to do? To feign madness. Tell them you're mad. You get sent to some cushy hospital. Nurses will bring you pizzas. You'll have your own game console". I asked to see the prison psychiatrist. I had just watched the movie "Crash", in which people get sexual pleasure from crashing cars into walls. So I said to the psychiatrist: "I get sexual pleasure from crashing cars into walls". Ah, Yes, I told him that I wanted to observe how the dying woman that it would help me feel more normal." I asked him how he made it all up, he answered that he had read about it in the biography of Ted Bundy that they found in the prison library.


One of the documentaries by Jon Ronson called The Secret Rulers of the World and explores the conspiracy theory together with her followers — members of the Bilderberg and Bohemian clubs.

In General, he said, he faked madness too well. It is not sent to some cushy hospital. He was sent to Broadmoor. As soon as he got there, he asked on reception to the psychiatrist and said, "it's Been a terrible misunderstanding. I have to psyche all right." I asked him how long he then remained in Broadmoor, he replied that, although the sentence for the original crime, assumed 5 years in prison, he is sitting there for 12.

Tony says that it is much harder to convince people you're sane than to convince them you're crazy. He said: "I thought the best way would be to talk to people normally about normal things — like football or on television. I subscribed to the magazine New Scientist, and recently there was an article about how the armed forces of the United States army was training bumblebees to sniff out explosives. So I told the nurse: "did You know that the armed forces of the United States army was training bumblebees to sniff out explosives?"When I read the notes in my medical history, I saw that they wrote: "Patient believes bees can sniff out explosives." He says, "You know, they always seek out non-verbal confirmation of my mental state. But how do you sit in a sane way? As a man in his right mind puts his foot on the foot? It's just impossible." At this point I panic immediately began to figure out, "am I Sitting like a journalist? Am I crossing my legs like a journalist?".

He said: "I Have one hand — Stachulski Strangler, on the other — the rapist. So I usually stay in my room because they scare me. And doctors interpretiruya it as a sign of madness. He say is a sign of indifference and the delusions of grandeur". Only in Broadmoor is considered abnormal desire to stay away from serial killers. Tony seemed perfectly normal, but how can I judge this?

When I returned home, I contacted his doctor, Anthony Madena. I said, "What is his story?"He said, "We also believe that Tony faked madness to avoid prison because of his hallucinations, and so are pretty formulaic, immediately disappeared as soon as he got to Broadmoor. However, as a result of examinations, we diagnosed him with "personality disorder". In fact, faking madness is very characteristic of cunning and manipulative act of a psychopath. Cunning and manipulative are the list of symptoms. So, it turns out, faking a mental disorder just indicates the disorder of his mind. I have talked with other experts, and they said the pinstripe suit is typical of the psychopath. Corresponds to the first items in the list of symptoms: rumbling speech, superficial charm and grandiose sense of self-worth. I said, "And the fact that he did not wish to communicate with other patients?". Again typical of the psychopath: megalomania and lack of empathy. It turns out, what seemed most normal about Tony, according to his doctor confirmed his new diagnosis of psychopathy.

Psychopathy as a social system

His doctor advised me to enroll in a course on the identification of psychopaths to learn more about psychopaths — this course is taught by Robert Hare, the author of "List of symptoms of psychopathy". And so I did. I went on a course to identify psychopaths, and now I'm certified and I have to say, extremely capable diagnostician psychopaths. Statistics is that one in a hundred regular people is a psychopath. For example, in the hall of 1500 people. Among them fifteen psychopaths. Although the number rises to 4% among Executive Directors and supervisors. So, I think it's possible that psychopaths, 30 or 40. The evening can end in a mass brawl.

For Heero, the cause of the epidemic of psychopathy in the fact that capitalism in all its brutality encourages dysfunctional behavior: lack of empathy, sycophantic speech, cunning, manipulative. In fact, we can say that the brutal system of capitalism is the practical manifestation of psychopathy. This form of psychopathy, which affects us all. The hare said to me: "Forget about some guy at Broadmoor, who may have faked madness, and maybe not. What difference? What really matters is corporate psychopathy. You'd better have an interview with corporate psychopaths." It was worth the try. I wrote to the Enron people. I wrote: "Can I visit you in prison and to interview you to find out whether you psychopaths?"They didn't answer, so I changed the approach. I wrote al Dunlap, nicknamed "Chainsaw", the buyer of assets from the 1990s. He would come into failing businesses and close down 30 percent of the workforce. He would turn American towns into Ghost towns. I wrote him in a letter: "I believe you have an unusual brain anomaly that makes you special, fearless and ruthless. Can I come and interview you about your special brain anomaly?"And he said to me: "Come."

Internal Narnia

I went to al Dunlap's Grand Florida mansion, filled with sculptures of predators — mainly lions and tigers. He led me through the garden. There were falcons and eagles. He said, "But there's sharks, view. Here we have more sharks and tigers there". It looked like Narnia.

Then we went into the kitchen. Al Dunlap was hired to save failing companies. He, as I mentioned, did not have to cut 30% of employees. He often dismissed them with a joke. For instance, one famous story about him. Someone came to him and said, "I just bought a new car." And he said: "the New car you, of course, now there is. But I'll tell you what you don't have a job."

So he was standing in the kitchen with his wife Judy and bodyguard Sean. I said, "You remember how I wrote in the letter that maybe you have a brain anomaly that makes you special?"He said, "Yes, interesting theory. It's like in star Trek. I like going where no foot of man". I say: "in fact, some psychologists believe that it says that you..." He said, "What?"I took out the word "psychopath". I say, in my pocket on a piece of paper a list of psychopathic traits. We can go through them with you? Inevitably, he was intrigued and said, "okay, let's go". And I said, "okay". Have to say, it would be difficult to deny because he was standing underneath a giant oil painting of himself. He said, "Well, you've got to believe in yourself!"I said, "Manipulative." He said: "It is a sign of leadership." I continued: "the Inability to feel a range of emotions". He said, "Who wants to burden yourself with unnecessary emotions?"He went through the list of psychopathic symptoms, justifying each of them.

"I'm not a psychopath. You know that one of the symptoms is the inability to have any regrets. But the story is that the list is cunning and manipulative. So when you say you're sorry, they say: "a Typical psychopath — cold-blooded lies that repents»

And I noticed something curious in the day when met with al Dunlap. Every time he told me something, it seems completely normal, he mentioned that it is not necessary to condemn the criminal behavior in adolescence. He told me that he got accepted into West point and West point "we do not take bullies". He answered negatively to the question about short-term marital relationships. He was married only twice and the second marriage is already 41 years old. We have to admit that his first wife wrote in the divorce papers that he once threatened her with a knife and said he always wanted to know what human flesh taste; but people say stupid things during an argument if they are unhappy and annoyed. Every time he talked about something that seemed perfectly normal, I thought to myself: "No, in my book I include it, I will not". And then I realized that, while studying to seek out psychopaths, I became a bit of a psychopath. As I tried to shove him in a box marked psychopath, and for that — sought to describe the nature of people, the strangest of their traits.

And it dawned on me: "Oh, my God, this is what I have been doing for the last 20 years. That's what all journalists do. We travel the world with notebook in hand in search of pearls. But the gems are always the most outstanding personality traits of a hero. And we carefully select them to your collection, discarding as useless all that seems normal and ordinary. We just don't pay attention to normal." And in our country too many are diagnosed with mental disorders. Bipolar disorder — children as young as four years old are diagnosed, if they just have bouts of anger.

Happy ending for polumegabayta

When I returned to London, Tony phoned me. He said, "Why didn't you answer my calls?"I said, "Well, I said you were a psychopath." He said, "I'm not a psychopath. You know that one of the symptoms is the inability to have any regrets. But the story is that the list is cunning and manipulative. So, when you say you're sorry, they say: "a Typical psychopath — cold-blooded lies that repents". It's like magic. They are all crashing down on your head." He said, "I Have a Tribunal coming up. Will you come?".

In 2000, a well-known researcher of schizophrenia Timothy Crowe published an article with a sensational title: "is Schizophrenia the price that homo sapience pays for language." Crowe argues that language and psychosis have a common evolutionary origin and genetic changes.

I agreed and went. After 14 years in Broadmoor, he was released. They decided that they not be held indefinitely simply because of the fact that he had the highest score on the test for likelihood of recurrence, and released. In the corridor he said to me, "You know, John, everyone's a bit psychopathic. You. Ya Well I am". I asked him what he will do now, he replied: "I will go to Belgium. There's a woman there that I like. But she's married so I'll have to make sure that they broke up."

It was two years ago, and that ends my book. The last 20 months everything was fine. Nothing bad happened. He lives near London with a girl. According to Brian the Scientologist, making up for lost time — I know it sounds ominous, but it's nothing behind these words is not hidden. Unfortunately, after 20 months, he still again got busted: got in a bar fight, so he called it, and as a result he was given a month in prison. Which is bad, but at least a short period of time suggests that the fight was not serious.

I think it's good that Tony released. Because you can't judge a man by his worst traits. Tony — propshop. He's an unidentified gray area in a world that does not like uncertainty. However, the gray area is where you encountered the difficulty that what is humanity. It is there and is true. Then he called me. He called me and said, "John, can I buy you a drink in a bar? I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me". And I didn't go. What would you do?



P. S. And remember, just changing your mind — together we change the world! ©



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