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The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test (edition 2012)

by Jon Ronson

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2,1551023,019 (3.8)93
Title:The Psychopath Test
Authors:Jon Ronson
Info:Picador (2012), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

  1. 20
    The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: This book also deals with recognizing and dealing with people who lack the ability to empathize with others and who see emotions as a weakness to be exploited. The tone is more scholarly and clinical.
  2. 10
    Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson (Sandydog1)
  3. 01
    A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father by Augusten Burroughs (WildMaggie)
    WildMaggie: The personal experience of living with one versus the science of finding one.

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A surprisingly humorous and eye opening read, The Psychopath Test chronicles the author's journey primarily investigating psychopathy and how people are labelled with a mental disorder. I absolutely loved the journalistic writing style and I found Jon Ronson's internal monologue pretty hilarious. Funny bits aside, there were some parts of this book that absolutely frightened the life out of me. Jon Ronson's conversations with psychopaths and the people who work with them was generally quite scary to read about. Psychopathy is essentially untreatable and the incidence of it in the general population is quoted in this book as 1 in 100. That is a lot! I found myself frantically trying to think if I have ever encountered one and just not have known it. It's not something I like to think about.

I found this book riveting and I think anyone who has an interest in psychology would find it a good read. It doesn't really go into depth about exactly how to spot a psychopath definitively or anything but I enjoyed seeing the madness industry through a lay person's perspective and I think Ronson asked some very good questions. Why is it that the diagnostic and statistical manual for diagnosing mental disorders has grown from a 65 page pamphlet to a huge 800+ page tome in less than a hundred years? Is normal human behaviour increasingly being labelled as abnormal? Why is the diagnosis of childhood mental disorders growing so rapidly? What involvement do the drug companies have in this? All interesting questions to ponder.

Perhaps the most frightening question of all is how many psychopaths are in positions of power and are making decisions that directly affect society in negative way? How much harm have corporate psychopaths directly caused? Ronson himself mused whether the difference between a psychopath in a mental hospital and a psychopath who is a CEO or a politician is just a matter of financial privilege and family background. Again, all interesting things to think about.

I highly recommend this fascinating book, it offers so much to think about. ( )
  4everfanatical | Aug 26, 2016 |
A "meh" piece of armchair psychology by a writer who owns a copy of the DSM-IV and took a weekend class with a psychologist who believes you can spot a psychopath by going down a simple checklist. Author Jon Ronson goes around "diagnosing" a man in a psychiatric hospital, an ex-CEO and cadre of out-of-the-way personalities despite Ronson's tenuous grasp on clinical psychology. There's no real depth to this book and Ronson gives too much credence to Scientology's argument that psychology is a pseudoscience. The book skips over any actual science for a curious cast of characters, and Ronson has this annoying habit of referring to journalism as a means of exploiting crazy people for a story. Is the book entertaining? Kind of. Is it useful? Not really. ( )
  acgallegos91 | Jul 17, 2016 |
Interesting and unsettling. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
I picked this one up, in paperback, some time ago because I had enjoyed The Men Who Stare at Goats. It sat on the shelf for ages, a victim of the ease of the kindle. I started reading it as my at home book in late 2014 but only finished it earlier today.

I'm not sure what to make of Jon Ronson. He's a sort of gonzo journalist, although perhaps a less extremist version. He seems to have a knack of making people tell him stuff that is ridiculous and that anyone sensible wouldn't say in front of another person, let alone a journalist who was going to publish it. Perhaps it's just my prejudice against journalists and media handling training coming out.

It's car crash stuff. You can predict where it's going and how. But yet it still makes you want to read it. It's in the same vein as PJ O'Rourke and Louis Theroux but less obviously deliberately weird or funny. You know Ronson is showing you interesting characters and introducing the absurdities to you.

The Psychopath Test is really about the absurdity of psychiatry and how normal behaviour can get you classified as mentally ill. We don't really know, or at least can't reliably tell the really bad people from the unusual ones. It's really sad. ( )
  jmkemp | Jul 5, 2016 |
Steven Crossley
  jmail | Mar 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
Mr. Ronson’s latest book has less ballast. Though he retains his own paranormal ability to locate and befriend wing nuts of every stripe, he has to try a little harder than usual to get “The Psychopath Test” going. Chalk up some of that forced quality to the fact that Mr. Ronson’s BBC Radio 4 program, “Jon Ronson on ...,” is considered comedy. Throw in the fact that most psychopaths aren’t really all that funny. Still, his winning style pervades most of “The Psychopath Test,” as when Mr. Ronson wonders whether he will have psychopaths for readers. According to the second characteristic on the 20-item Hare Psychopathy Checklist (from which this book takes its title), some of them will. “Grandiose sense of self-worth” is one of their notable traits. “What should my message to them be?” he asks one Harvard Medical School psychologist. “Turn yourselves in?”
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For Anita Bhoomkar (1996-2009),
a lover of life and all its madness
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This is a story about madness.
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"In this madcap journey, a bestselling journalist investigates psychopaths and the industry of doctors, scientists, and everyone else who studies them. The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronsonhow to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues. And so Ronson, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, enters the corridors of power. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud in Coxsackie, New York; a legendary CEO whose psychopathy has been speculated about in the press; and a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane who insists he's sane and certainly not a psychopath. Ronson not only solves the mystery of the hoax but also discovers, disturbingly, that sometimes the personalities at the helm of the madness industry are, with their drives and obsessions, as mad in their own way as those they study. And that relatively ordinary people are, moreand more, defined by their maddest edges"-- "In this madcap journey, a bestselling journalist investigates psychopaths and the industry of doctors, scientists, and journalists who study them"--… (more)

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