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Strange Answers to the Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (Full Transript)

Jon Ronson

Full text of Strange Answers to the Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson at TED conference

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TRANSCRIPT: 

The story starts. I was at a friend’s house, and she had on her shelf a copy of the DSM manual, which is the manual of mental disorders. It lists every known mental disorder. And it used to be back in the ’50s a very slim pamphlet. And then it got bigger and bigger and bigger, and now it’s 886 pages long. And it lists currently 374 mental disorders. So I was leafing through it, wondering if I had any mental disorders, and it turns out I’ve got 12.

I’ve got generalized anxiety disorder, which is a given. I’ve got nightmare disorder, which is categorized if you have recurrent dreams of being pursued or declared a failure, and all my dreams involve people chasing me down the street going, “You’re a failure!”

I’ve got parent-child relational problems, which I blame my parents for.

I’m kidding. I’m not kidding. I’m kidding. And I’ve got malingering. And I think it’s actually quite rare to have both malingering and generalized anxiety disorder, because malingering tends to make me feel very anxious.

Anyway, I was looking through this book, wondering if I was much crazier than I thought I was, or maybe it’s not a good idea to diagnose yourself with a mental disorder if you’re not a trained professional, or maybe the psychiatry profession has a kind of strange desire to label what’s essentially normal human behavior as a mental disorder. I didn’t know which of these was true, but I thought it was kind of interesting, and I thought maybe I should meet a critic of psychiatry to get their view, which is how I ended up having lunch with the Scientologists.

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