In Chapter 4, Jon Ronson analyses human natures tendency to veer towards madness, with the perspective that madness has many different forms and operates on multiple levels. Upon hearing about Elliot Barker’s study on changing the mindset of psychopaths through nude psychotherapy while being under the influence of LSD, Ronson becomes immediately interested and begins his quest to understand more on this study. Already, Elliot Barker proves to show his madness based on the odd, dramatic, and ridiculous procedures he used in his study. Throughout the study, Barker noted that his method was actually changing these psychopaths and for the first time in 30 years, psychopaths were released from the center and were declared “cured.” Following this, Barker removed himself from the study and Gary Maier took over. Gary found that after every nude, LSD fueled psychotherapy session the men had changed. However, every time they came back to therapy the men were changed back into psychopaths. He believed that because the other psychopaths didn’t accept his patients changes, every psychopath in the center should take part in the nude, LSD fueled therapy. Again, this is another example of sane madness. In a long-term study of observing psychopaths re-entry into society, it is found that 60% of them committed another heinous crime. The men who participated in Barker and Maier’s studies showed that 80% of them recommitted crimes. Thus, proving that their studies made the psychopaths worse. Ironic? Yes. Through these studies Jon Ronson proved that not only are psychopaths mad, but so are their doctors. Which can also be generalized to mankind because every person has mad ideas, yet the way these ideas are expressed determines a person’s actual madness (to the point of calling them psychopaths).
I thought this chapter was extremely odd, yet interesting. I find the methods of Elliot Barker and Gary Maier to be strange, but entertaining as well. It actually makes sense in my mind that nude psychotherapy would result in naked emotions. However, I don’t understand why LSD was involved in the study. Did Barker believe that LSD would make the psychopaths more willing to shed their true emotions? It was very disturbing finding out that one of the reasons psychopaths kill is to “feel like God.” I don’t know anything that sounds creepier than that statement.