Gabor Maté has done a great service in generating his new book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Anyone with an addicted friend or family member, persons concerned about the War on Drugs, and just ordinary citizens concerned about the drug culture will be well rewarded for reading Maté’s new book. Also the author of When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts starts out with a series of anecdotes introducing the reader to real drug addicts. Each has been under the care of Maté who is an MD practicing in Vancouver. These chapters are revealing, but not the meat of the book. In a later section, Maté details the neuroscience behind addiction and relates it to his own addictions (which are not drug related). In another, which I found the most helpful personally, he discusses drug policy. In particular, he distinguishes between decriminalization of drugs and making drug legal. He also approaches the issue of drug addiction as disease which has always troubled me. This is one fine book. It makes current thought on drug addiction and drug policy available to the concerned citizen. The book will be of value to the novice and professional alike. Please don’t pass this book by – it has important implications for everyone; tax payer, concerned citizen, law enforcement officer, social worker, and family member touched by addiction. It softened my heart – if I might add that. If you want to understand, this book is a good start. The reading of the text is well done.
Margaret Hefferman makes visible a human failing in “Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril.” In this book she approaches answers to why we willfully ignore what we need to acknowledge the most. The subject is important, according to the author, because we fail to see dangers right before our eyes. From marrying the wrong person, to the Enron fiasco, to the housing bubble, Hefferman alerts the reader to how the persons involved had the requisite information before them all the time and how the situations may have been avoided. Of course, hindsight is better than foresight, but her observations and presentation of research is informative. Hefferman is strongest when applying research to specific situations. She is weakest when she digresses into preaching about current events. She is most informative when she is explaining why organizations and individuals have willful blindness and lacking when she is on a soap box. All of it is valuable, but some of the book is more helpful than others. Her analysis of organizational structure and how it influences the decisions of large organizations is worth the price of the book. She details, for example, the problems of BP in Texas as well as the Gulf spill and explains why top management was blind to what was taking place. Willful blindness afflicts us all. Now, Hefferman has shown light on this timely subject. She reads her own text and does it well.
Levine and Heller apply attachment theory and the related research appearing over the past decade to romantic relationships. They provide instruments to help individuals determine their attachment styles, relate the characteristics of those styles, outline how persons with different styles relate to their relationships, and make suggestions for how we might better communicate our needs in each situation. Many illustrations are provided that are helpful. The book is well narrated by Walter Dixon.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
"'Grandiose sense of self-worth?' I asked him. This would be a hard one for him to deny, standing as he was under an enormous oil painting of himself."
I quite enjoyed The Psychopath Test, which combines the self-deprecating wit of its anxiety-ridden author, accounts of his interviews with several colorful individuals, and some serious ethical questions. The book begins with the story of a man named "Tony", whom Ronson meets in a mental institution. Tony is a personable, intelligent, stable-seeming guy who doesn't seem like he should be there. He faked insanity as a teenager to avoid a jail sentence for beating someone up and now the doctors won't let him out, now matter how reasonably he behaves.
As it develops, though, Tony, while not "mad" in any sense, has been diagnosed with psychopathic tendencies. In other words, he has trouble empathizing with others, a self-aggrandizing attitude, and a charming, manipulative personality. His legal status remains in limbo not because he's thought to be dangerous, but because many dangerous people have been like him.
As Ronson's explorations into psychopathy and its consequences unfold, we encounter some extremes of opinion. On one hand, there are those who distrust the entire psychiatric profession and accuse it of sinister motives, like Scientologists. But, not entirely giving lie to their views are the actions a group of a doctors and self-appointed criminal experts, who, with the zealousness of witch hunters, wield a questionnaire designed to ferret out psychopaths. Confusing matters further are the agendas of the media and pharmaceutical companies, and a long history of very dubious mental health diagnoses and treatment methodologies. Some of the people Ronson meets seem almost too bizarre to be real, but having worked at a company founded by someone a lot like the businessman with the oil painting of himself (and with about as many legal indictments), I know that they are.
Though Ronson focuses a lot more on the strange fringes than on scientific rigor, I found the questions the book raises quite interesting. Should society allow those who lack empathy to roam the streets or rise to positions of power in the corporate world? If not, then who should have the power to make those decisions, and is it right for a diagnostic checklist be treated as predictive of someone's behavior? When does that sort of thing cross the line into a Minority Report-like realm?
Normally, I prefer it when authors don’t narrate their own audiobooks, but Ronson has an amusingly wide-eyed speaking style that I liked. I plan to check out more of his work.