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Customer Review

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly Out-Of-Date, 23 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The Psychopath Test (Paperback)
As other reviewers have said, there is little to laugh at in this book and it is weird that some journalists thought so...
To me, the saddest thing about this book is that the author obsesses about varieties of psychology that should have been left behind 40 years ago. It harks back to the 60’s and 70’s when conventional psychiatry defined 2 types of person – sane people and mad people – and the ‘sane’ people were empowered to invent as many different varieties of ‘madness’ as they could imagine. Certainly these models still exist and are used, but this book failed to condemn them. In fact, it is not until 6 pages from the end (P281) that he states that there are “people in the middle, getting over-labelled”, and yet 2 pages later he quotes someone saying “the people who say that kind of thing ... are very left-wing, left-leaning academics”. I suspect that by then Ronson knew otherwise, but to have conceded that point would have made a nonsense of the whole book.
Since the 70’s there have been many developments in clinical psychology that have moved away from the judgemental labels of the old systems. The best of these is probably the Process Communication Model of Dr Taibi Kahler which describes just six different types of personality, and shows how we all exhibit characteristics of all six, and that each type has both strengths and weaknesses. Whether we are sane or whether we are mad is just a matter of degree. This system gets away from the arrogance of one part of the population defining another. What’s more, if you are concerned about your interactions with a particular personality type it gives you a full description by which you can identify and communicate better with them. To continue the theme of the book, why worry about the violent psychopath in Broadmoor when they can’t do you any harm if they’re in Broadmoor? Much better to spot the persistent salesman who will sell you something you can’t afford, or understand why your ex ripped you off and learn not to get fooled in the same way again. (As Kahler’s PCM was used for two decades by NASA to pick crews for Space Shuttles it’s no exaggeration to say it is the most thoroughly authenticated model in clinical psychology, and therefore far worthier of study than the out-dated Psychopath Test.)
To summarise, if you know some psychology, you won’t learn much more from this. If you don’t know any psychology, this will teach you the wrong thing.
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