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The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

Written by Jon Ronson

Narrated by Jon Ronson


The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

Written by Jon Ronson

Narrated by Jon Ronson

ratings:
4/5 (110 ratings)
Length:
7 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 12, 2011
ISBN:
9781452672250
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

BookSnapshot

Also available as...

BookSnapshot

Description

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.
Publisher:
Released:
May 12, 2011
ISBN:
9781452672250
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

BookSnapshot

About the author

Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of many bestselling books, including Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie, Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, The Psychopath Test, The Men Who Stare at Goats and Them: Adventures with Extremists. His first fictional screenplay, Frank, co-written with Peter Straughan, starred Michael Fassbender. He lives in London and New York City.


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What people think about The Psychopath Test

4.0
110 ratings / 92 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    Interesting and unsettling.
  • (4/5)
    Excellently written, and the dedication to really get to the bottom of the term of psychopath really kept me in awe. Really well researched, incredibly documented conversations, and more really kept me reading on. This was a very unbiased book, in my opinion, on both sides of the spectrum on who or what determines what a psychopath really is. You end up questioning yourself, but fear not, the answer whether you are or not is in the book.
  • (4/5)
    This explains so much.
  • (5/5)
    A solid 4.5 star book, rounding up to entertainment factor.

    A bit rambling in the last third, but still quite entertaining. This is one I'm very happy to have heard in audio form, read by the author. A fun companion on my commute. Also, it's more about "the madness industry" than it is about psychopathy or psychopaths.

    WAY better than "The Sociopath Next Door".
  • (4/5)
    I love Jon Ronson because he’s witty and somewhat snarky but writes very well, and his nonfiction really pulls you in. This book was incredibly interesting, and referenced a fair amount of Them, which is the next book I will read by him (about conspiracy theories - yay!). His subject matter is always incredibly interesting.
  • (4/5)
    What is a psychopath? How can we tell who is a psychopath, and who isn't - and if we apply the label to an individual, is it possible for us to reassess the diagnosis? In Jon Ronson's fascinating book, these questions are asked, along with many others. The first few chapters were good, but then when Ronson began to ask deeper questions - like, what does it mean to take the check-list approach to diagnosing so-called mental disorders - his book really began to come to life. Definitely worth reading!
  • (3/5)
    The author is a reporter and, once he got his hands on a test to determine whether or not someone is a psychopath, he tried to figure it out by asking people questions from the test. He looked a little more into psychiatry beyond psychopaths, as well. Ok, not the greatest summary, but I guess this wasn’t what I thought it would be (should have read summaries closer!). He’s not a psychiatrist, or even a psychologist, so if you want real information on psychopaths/sociopaths, I would recommend “The Sociopath Next Door” as being much better. Some of the history Ronson provided was interesting, though, and particularly a look at current diagnoses of kids today. I listened to the audio, read by the author, and my concentration varied. Overall, I’m rating it ok.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this book. Had some interesting things to say about mental health. I am not going to lie though. The chapter about the over prescribing of drugs to children was my favorite. I have long believed this to be true in my part of the world.
  • (3/5)
    Very quick and interesting read that may make you reevaluate your thinking on psychology or at least diagnoses and what it takes to label people something based strictly on checklists and a PHD next to someone's name...
  • (4/5)
    A thoughtful journalistic exploration of psychopathy and madness, how they are quantified, and what that means for everyone.
  • (4/5)
    I read this book in less than 24 hours. It is light but engrossing. I guess I've been reading a lot of dense material lately so this was a bit like drinking water.It starts off with a mysterious book that has been sent to top scientists and meanders around the world looking for psychopaths.
  • (3/5)
    This one had its highs and its lows but on average, I enjoyed reading it. One thing's for sure; I don't think I much care for Jon Ronson as a person. He came across as someone who would not jibe well with me. That being said, I still want to read his other book: Men Who Stare at Goats.
  • (3/5)
    This was very disturbing to read at times. Maybe this book should just be subtitled "A Journey Through Madness". I actually really liked the author, he was pretty funny. I liked listening to him--he read his own book. My main problem, I think, can be summarized by something mentioned within the pages of this book: People can't be reduced to a psychiatric label. There is absolutely no test made by humankind that will really give a true, accurate full picture of a single human being. It can see patterns, yes, and patterns are valuable, but I just feel that too much emphasis is placed on them.
    I feel like I need to take a break from researching psychopathy for a while. I wondered how the author of this book did it for so many years!!!
  • (1/5)
    I read this book and I have to admit my reasons for not liking it involve my personal preferences not the subject or the writer. I just got to the point with the naked psycotherapy (sorry if thats the incorrect word) and I was done.

    Subject started interesting but then began to creep my out. I did not finish it.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    There are no Eastern views of psychology or the disordered mind in Jon Ronsom's examination of how mental illness is diagnosed and treated. All of the interviews take place in the UK (at Broadmoor Hospital for the Criminally Insane and at Heathrow Airport), Sweden, and the United States. The groundbreaking psychopath checklist developed by Bob Hare is the crux of the matter.

    Is it a simple matter to diagnose with a checklist? Does such simplification result in over-diagnosing certain common human traits as abnormal? How much does needing to be normal feed into our desire to be cured of any straying from calm systematic behavior?

    Ronson has probing conversations with the key players in the debate, especially Bob Hare, and several editors of the mushrooming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Along the way we meet some psychopaths who have spent serious time in hospitals for the criminally insane. Ronsom never condescends or oversimplifies the subjects of his quest, even when given every opportunity to do so, for instance, when he attends a gala at the mansion of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. The Scientologists have a whole wing devoted to exposing psychiatry for its falseness.

    I am fascinated by what separates those who can commit a crime from those of us who may have thought about it. This book satisfied a need to learn more about how psychology treats the criminally insane.
  • (5/5)
    Brilliant and insightful read. Shows how normal (and entertaining) some psychopaths can be, does help to get rid of the rather sinister stereotype they have.
  • (3/5)
    I would probably give this 3.5 stars if that were possible. It is an easy, entertaining, informative read that delves into a number of interesting cases and expounds several fascinating tidbits of psychology history. While Ronson's style is welcoming and honest, I did get a bit tired of his tendency to self-deprecate. In all honest, I was annoyed with how he thought he had the expertise to spot psychopaths after what would have equated to nothing more than an introductory course--Psychopaths 101, if you will. Also, he says he solved the mystery of Being or Nothingness, but I wasn't too impressed with his sleuthing. I was left thinking "Shoot. I could have done that. He kinda just stumbled into the answer." I liked his easy narrative style, but it did weaken his authority in several instances--for me, at least.
  • (4/5)
    I always enjoy pop psychology books, and this one is no different. Ronson really does take you on a rather rambling path (of the best kind) through the development of psychiatry and how the current literature and philosophy of psychopathy came to be. At the center is the Hare Checklist (referenced as THE PSYCHOPATHIC TEST in the title, I think), created by psychologist Robert Hare as a way to identify the psychopaths in our population. If I remember correctly, the population of psychopaths among top-paid and powerful CEOs was, at least at one point, 3.9 percent - higher than even the prison population in some places. Fascinating stuff.
  • (4/5)
    I'm not sure where to begin without giving it all away, but this book was much better than I expected! I'm not much of a non-fiction reader, but this book had me hooked. It had a definite plot, and the inner thoughts of the author really made me feel like I was going on a journey to find out the mystery of psychopathy. I especially liked how the initial mystery that sparked the author's journey to discover psychopathy comes back at the end; perfect framing technique.

    On the topic of the initial mystery, the mysterious "Being or Nothing" book, as I read it, I got an idea. Anybody else see a connection to that book and "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?"
  • (4/5)
    This was very interesting but a little disturbing. If you are interested in psychology, you will probably like this book. It raises some intriguing questions about the mental health industry. I walked away from this book feeling more suspicious of it than before.
  • (3/5)
    It's comforting to know that I am not, in fact, a psychopath. I wasn't quite sure, until I read this book. It gives you a definitive answer.

    Part of me was hoping that I was a psychopath, because it would sure explain why I'm so fucked in the head. Apparently, just being a crazy person that thinks about killing people all the time, does not make me a psychopath. In fact, I learned from this book that there is a really short answer to the question: Am I a psychopath? If you think you might be a psychopath, you are not one. It's that simple. So, you don't even have to read this book now. I saved you some time.

    But, if you think: Fuck that noise! I'm not a goddamn psychopath. I'm just smarter and better than all you fuckers. Then, you might want to read this book. Because you're probably a goddamn psychopath.

    So, fuck psychopaths in their dirty assholes. Or don't. Because, if you're close enough to fuck their dirty asshole, they're probably going to kill you. Then fuck your dirty asshole. Because they're sick like that.
  • (3/5)
    Some really interesting stuff but it wasn't what I was expecting, which was a book with facts about psychopaths, and that turned me off slightly. After a bit into the book that went away and I started to enjoy the book for what it was, a story of a guy getting a first glance into the world of psychology while searching for psychopaths. The book will make you think and doubt and believe, that alone is worth it.
  • (5/5)
    This book was completely chilling! I've recommended this one to so many readers - teens and adults alike - and have gotten fun responses back from all.Ronson explores the dark, brutal, and often violent world/history of treating psychopaths, and you're compelled to go along, whether you want to or not.Read this one with my teen library book club, along with a class of students from a local high school, and we had a great discussion about empathy, madness, and psychopathy.Recommended for those with strong stomachs.
  • (5/5)
    I could not stop listening to this book, not to mention how much I brought it up in random conversations and thought about the implications! There are claims such as 1% of people are psychopaths and 5x's as many can be found leading corporations and countries as politicians. Ronson concludes the book with intriguing ideas such as how we should label semi-psychopaths and when we should or should not label children with disorders such as Bi-polar disorder.
  • (3/5)
    Quick and entertaining introduction to the "madness industry." I enjoy Ronson's conversational writing style and learned some things from this book. It is certainly not an in-depth book about psychology, more along the lines of one of Mary Roach's overviews of a topic, with information presented in an entertaining way. I have read The Men Who Stare at Goats and enjoyed it. I'd like to get hold of Them and see what Ronson has to say about "extremists," too.
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed reading this book. The author kept me interested and explained a lot of technical things in layman's terms. The story itself was intriguing and I was surprised to find that he was able to speak to so many people that would qualify as a "psychopath" so easily. I think the book points out that there are a lot of people among us (in the US anyway) who have traits similar to those of a psychopath (now termed sociopath) and that, perhaps, like many other disorders and diseases, we are beginning to over diagnose such things.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book! Crazy, hilarious and true.
  • (5/5)
    Jon Ronson has found great success writing about the odd in society, whether it's psychopaths or those that believe the world is being run by giant lizards. Ronson writes well about his subjects and his "fame" as an off-kilter journalist has allowed him access to figures that the ordinary schlub journo can only dream of.Whether it be cross-dressing conspiracy theorists or Haitian death squad leaders, Ronson covers their foibles well. Recommended.
  • (5/5)
    This is the third book that I read from Jon Ronson. So far my favorite one. Is really enjoyable to read and teach a lot. Maybe is not the best book about the psychopath test or similar cases, but for sure will keep you inside. Highly recommended.