Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ronson Chapter 6 & 7 Summary/Response

The title for chapter seven, "The Right Sort of Madness", rightly lives up to its name for the description of the chapter. Ronson's friend, Adam Curtis, specifically points out that Ronson's actions suggest he is trying to find the right kind of madness (psychopathic trait) in Al Dunlap. Ronson denies this fact.  The rest of the chapter profiles a woman named Charlotte who booked participants for reality television shows which interviewed families and people with issues, such as Jerry Springer. She tells Ronson that she would look for certain traits in participants and found that if they were slightly "mad" they could be perfect for the show and the audience would be extremely entertained. This brought up several ethical issues where some participants were too "mad" and ended up hurting themselves. 

When you have a list dictating what is considered 'madness', it is easier to pick up and criticize others. It seems to me that Ronson has "seen the light" and whenever he detects a possible psychopath he puts them under a spotlight and scrutinizes their every move. During his interview of Al Dunlap, it felt as though Ronson would justify Dunlap's behavior when it didn't match up with the psychopath list. It was as if he picked and chose what traits he considered more prevalent to Dunlap's case of psychopathy in order to correlate to his hypothesis of whether or not psychopaths run society on a corporate level. When I first started reading about the psychopath checklist, I found myself guilty of evaluating different traits in people for possible matches. After awhile though I felt that it was wrong and found the list to be unethical. I think that Ronson is especially guilty of using the checklist in a way where he manipulates the variables in his favor in order to diagnose people as psychopaths. It may also give him a sense of power and feel superior to psychopaths because he can identify them. He uses this to his advantage as he pursues the idea of psychopaths running society. Ultimately though, I think that everyone has different traits of psychopathy that can be prevalent in our personalities. For example, how medical students will throw cadavers at each other jokingly. It's as if people can train their empathy to be like a light switch. Turning it off and on at their will.  

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