I received a finished copy of this book from Penguin USA via a GoodReads giveaway. James Fallon works at UC Irvine and doesn’t have a standalone website (that I could find). Instead, here’s a link to his TED talk that started it all.
The Psychopath Inside by James Fallon is a cross between scientific “info for the layperson” and personal memoir. It’s interesting, engaging, and slightly disturbing. The disturbing part was unexpected – given the title I expected to finish up the book fretting that I myself was a psychopath. That was not the case; Fallon does a good job of making the journey a personal one.
What was disturbing was how well he documented his own ability (and the ability of those closest to him) to ignore or willfully overlook the parts of his personality that clearly indicated “psychopath.” In fact, this was so well documented that the willful ignorance theme began to take on more and more meaning as the book progressed. Fallon has some ideas about why this kind of reaction to non-“normal” markers exist but he refrains from diving fully into the anthopological pool. Nevertheless, as I finished the book I was left wondering what behaviors I myself brush off, ignore, or discredit when others mention it. I also spent some time thinking of my family and friend, those whose behaviors I’ve commented on from time to time but largely overlooked.
There are few psychopaths in my life (everyone’s got one or two) but everyone has some deviance from the “norm.” This book challenged me to spend some time thinking of mine.
So, I may never read this particular book again (although there’s a chance), it’s made me curious about related information and wanting to read a lot more about this (and related) subjects. Specifically, the “family” link for mental (dis)orders and the propensity of human beings to ignore their own quirks that often seem so obvious to those around them.
Anyone you know who seems oblivious to their own mental state?
Also, Happy New Year. May your year be free of criminally insane psychopaths. Enter to win a book that will aid you in spotting both psychopaths and the journalists that follow them around for intriguing interviews. (Click on the image to the left to enter.)