The Psychopath Test
Books | Social Science / Popular Culture
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 Ronson how 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, more and more, defined by their maddest edges.
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"Thoroughly enjoyed this read but didn’t feel any emotions finishing it. Jon is someone I feel like I’d love to sit and have a drink with. He’s an interesting guy with a unique perspective that is definitely relatable and an incredible journalist!! But not sure i’d recommend this book and felt like I needed more from the underlying message. Would read another book by him though! "
"This book is not at all what I expected it to be, but yet I was still fascinated by the journey Ronson went through. I really enjoyed how open-minded Ronson was to all points of view he encountered and I don't feel like he pushed any particular view unto his readers. I have a feeling this novel will keep my mind pondering for quite some time."
""The Psychopath Test" quixotically flits between psychological research, Scientology, mental asylums, corporate raiders, and Douglas Hofstadter's "Goedel, Escher, Bach" as Jon Ronson explores our society's relationship with madness.<br/><br/>I chose this book because I've long suspected that a fair bit of psychological research is not particularly reliable. Ronson investigates the gray areas of abnormal psychology and exposes the surprising extent to which psychopathy is socially constructed.<br/><br/>This book shines when Ronson digs into the history of psychology. I loved his account of the creation of the DSM-IV and his retelling of the Rosenhan experiment which caused a crisis in American psychology.<br/><br/>But Ronson's credibility weakens as he drags us on a gonzo journalism tour that includes visits to the Broadmoor prison for the criminally insane, the Scientology headquarters for conducting a vendetta against psychology, and a possibly-psycopathic CEO's Florida mansion. While certainly entertaining, these parts of the book feel disorganized and not particularly compelling as evidence of his main thesis. I found his TED talk to confirm my suspicion of his general flightiness.<br/><br/>He seems to have caught a lot of flack for his bits about Bob Hare's PCL-R Checklist for diagnosing psychopathy. I found Hare's own condemnation of the book unconvincing and thought that Ronson did a good job of highlighting the oddly commercial nature of Hare's research career.<br/><br/>Overall, this is a quick and fun read that raises some interesting questions about our society's handling of mental health. But I have doubts about its overall reliability.<br/><br/>Full review and highlights at: <a href="http://books.max-nova.com/psychopath-test/">http://books.max-nova.com/psychopath-test/</a>"
"I’m personally not familiar with the author but I love the book. I feel any book that delves into personality disorders, while offering a digestible layman’s narrative on the myriad of personality disorders, is incredibly helpful. Personality disordered individuals are like chameleons who’ve learned to blend in beyond recognition and explanation. So to safeguard ourselves from while learning to understand these individuals is a great advantage. Books like this help assist in that regard. "