Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ronson Chapter 10 & 11

In Chapter 10 of The Psychopath Test, Ronson explains mental disorder checklists came about in the DSM. He found that the scientologists disagree with almost all of the mental disorders and don't think people should be diagnosed with them. They have found the DSM to have gone too far, almost diagnosing every person with some kind of disorder. Ronson also tells the story of Rosenhan who asked friends to go to psychiatric hospitals and make one statement about voices in their heads but otherwise act completely normal. They were all diagnosed with some kind of mental disorder. This caused a lot of questioning about psychiatrist after the truth came out. This is what caused Robert Spitzer to decide to organize the DSM-III. He explained that the older DSM's weren't good enough because there was no way of measuring each disorder, so he made sure that each disorder he put in the DSM-III had a checklist. After the details of the DSM, Ronson found that there has been problems with the US over diagnosing people and having too many checklists which has caused almost anyone to qualify to having some kind of disorder, what the scientologists were so angry about. He also tells stories about children diagnosed with bipolar disorder, who probably shouldn't have been, because bipolar disorder does not usually occur in young children. These problems have caused too many children to be put on medication when they probably shouldn't be.

What is Ronson's final stance at the end of the book? I don't really get if he has taken the side of psychiatrist, agreeing with mental disorder checklists, or the side of scientologists. I think he really is unsure and agrees with both maybe, but will he still be able to be convinced either way? This book makes me question whether it is right to have all these checklists the diagnose people with mental disorders. How does it make sense that if someone has an untreatable disorder, they can be freed from a mental hospital? Are psychopaths treatable? Are any mental disorders treatable? This makes me wonder how someone can decide whether someone has a mental disorder and whether they can treat it. How can someone even know? I just don't know what I think is right either, and there is so much ambiguity with the checklists, that I don't know if I think psychiatrist have the right to determine these things or treat them.

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