Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jon Ronson Chapter 3

In the third chapter of Jon Ronson's, "The Psychopath Test," he describes the inner workings of Elliot Barker's Total Encounter Capsule at Oak Ridge hospital for the criminally insane in Ontario, Canada. Ronson details just exactly what happened in these psychopath therapy sessions. The patients would be put on LSD trips for periods of 11 days at a time and try to find their deepest, darkest thoughts with no distractions, and no clothes. Patients were eventually reported to be "gentle," (Ronson, 2011, p.78) and soon were released. A man named Gary Maier soon replaced Barker when he grew tired and needed a break. Gary had similar practices for the patients, including Dream Groups and mass chanting. Soon it was discovered that the LSD would change the patients but after the trips, they would be put back into a general ward and basically everything that was just accomplished, disappeared. Gary was later fired from Oak Ridge because the patients they released from the hospital went straight back to raping and killing. These amazing, life-changing programs actually ended up making the psychopaths worse.

This was by far the most interesting chapter of the book, so far. I was so fascinated that I actually enjoyed reading it and forgot I was doing work for school.  I find it intriguing to learn about what practices have been tried, and whether they succeeded or failed. I found the part where Steve Smith describes Peter Woodcock as his buddy to make sure he made it through the drug trip okay, quite comical. This whole psychiatric hospital seems a little far fetched to me, like something from a movie. I mean come on, tripping on LSD while naked and talking about dreams and chanting om?! I want to go out and watch the BBC documentary they talk about throughout the chapter. I also find it super sweet that Madison, Wisconsin is mentioned and the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee!