Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Avoidable Death of Rebecca Riley

Ronson's main focus of this chapter is on the DSM and how many people are misdiagnosed because of the checklists created in this booklet. He also tries to show how the DSM can cause great harm to people who are diagnosed with a mental disorder they do not have. It starts off with Ronson attending a Scientology banquet in which everyone there is making fun of the DSM for all of its outrageous disorders.  Robert Spitzer, the man who edited the first DSM, tells of the process of coming up with a new mental disorder. Basically, a group of psychiatrists would gather in a conference room and shout out ideas they have for a type of new mental disorder with a checklist that accompanied and if Spitzer agreed it would be added to the list. Later in the chapter, stories of how people are wrongly accused of mental disorders, especially child bipolar disorder, is addressed.  The story of Rebecca Riley, in how she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and then drugged to death by her parents plays a main role in Ronson's point of misdiagnoses. The chapter ends with an interview with Rebecca's mother by Katie Couric, who asks if she knew what was wrong with her child.  Her mother replies, "I don't know. Maybe she was just hyper for her age."

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. I found that it was one of the more interesting english readings I've had to read over the years.  I think the way Ronson wrote it, by keeping mystery throughout the entire plot, keeps you enticed to find out more about the world of psychopaths and to eventually decide on your own terms what it means to be a psychopath.  I was slightly confused at the end, however, because I didn't understand the message of "good luck" sent by Petter. Was this for Ronson to try to figure out another mystery, or was it making a point that Petter was able to control the researchers like in the beginning by doing something completely random?

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