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The Psychopath Test

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  64,808 Ratings  ·  4,616 Reviews
This is a story about madness. It all starts when journalist Jon Ronson is contacted by a leading neurologist. She and several colleagues have recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail, and Jon is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable ad ...more
Paperback, 286 pages
Published 2012 by Picador - Pan Macmillan (first published May 1st 2011)
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Andrew Wurch Its not just "Republicans"... That's a very narrow-sited opinion. Both political parties have politicians who are willing to do whatever it takes to…moreIts not just "Republicans"... That's a very narrow-sited opinion. Both political parties have politicians who are willing to do whatever it takes to make money. Republican or Democrat they're all the same narcissistic scumbags. (less)
Jennifer It doesn't focus on politics in the traditional sense of the word. It does focus on psychopaths in the criminal milieu, everyday life and business. So…moreIt doesn't focus on politics in the traditional sense of the word. It does focus on psychopaths in the criminal milieu, everyday life and business. So if you believe that the personal is political; the management of those who are mentally ill is political, and the policies of government in relation to the regulation of big business, or rather the lack of regulation of big business and its influence is political then yes, it is about politics. However, it doesn't really focus on one political party to paint them as being psychopathic. It critiques society's assessment and ascribing of psychopathy and mental illness generally. It is definitely worth a read.(less)
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Jan 14, 2015 Simeon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fictions
 ***Warning: this review is not for the fainthearted.*** 

A video recently went viral of a Texas judge savagely beating his disabled teenage daughter with a belt.

(view spoiler)
Lynn Weber
May 19, 2011 Lynn Weber rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
If you're interested in this topic, I'd recommend starting with Martha Stout's The Sociopath Next Door rather than this book. The problem with this one is that it's more "Follow me as I delve into this crazy world and have surreal experiences" than it is a study of sociopathy. And that ultimately makes it less gripping. I remember clearly the first section of of Stout's book, as it took the reader on a tour of one man's mind as he faced a simple but telling moment of moral decision-making. It wa ...more
Courtney Lindwall
Jun 05, 2011 Courtney Lindwall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want to learn to spot Psychopaths
Shelves: 2011, non-fiction
I read this in about a 4 hour span, from 12 am - 4 am. It freaked me out and I slept with the lights on. But on with the review.

So I've read things about psychopaths previously. How their brains are actually wired differently and they are unable to feel empathy, etcetc. Psychopathy is incurable. Psychopathy, in its violent and sexual strands, is outright fucking terrifying.

But Ronson's book talks more about the frequent misdiagnosis of psychopathy. And the misdiagnosis of many other "mental il
May 09, 2011 G rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To write something like “I loved this book” or “I found it incredibly insightful, entertaining and downright frightful” wouldn’t give you the exact depth of my passion towards it. For the past 48 hours, I’ve been thinking about the precise words I need to come up with to describe my joy with the novel Ronson has written, and I can’t. I can only tell you that if someone like me–jaded with years of dealing with mentally ill family members, overloaded with information from 6 psychology classes and ...more
Oct 12, 2011 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-kindle, 2011, reviewed
I thought this would be a great tool for self-diagnosis, but actually Ronson skitters from one case to another without really making any definitive point. But maybe that’s the point. Psychopathy is probably not an absolute for most people, as there are many among us who exist in some sort of sociopathic gray area (myself included). Me, I scored a 10, so I’m a partial psychopath. (Surprise, surprise!) My downfall? Apparently, I don’t really care too much about other people.

Here, take the test!
Apr 27, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psycology, 2013
“There is no evidence that we've been placed on this planet to be especially happy or especially normal. And in fact our unhappiness and our strangeness, our anxieties and compulsions, those least fashionable aspects of our personalities, are quite often what lead us to do rather interesting things.”

Jon Ronson, in preparation of writing this book took a course from a top psychologist on how to spot a Psychopath. Below is a list of traits from the first factor called "Aggressive Narcissism". The
Mike (the Paladin)
This is what I might call "an oddly interesting book". I say that because in retrospect I'm a bit surprised that it holds the interest so well. Mr. Ronson begins with a strange little mystery concerning running down the source/writer of an (to use the same word) odd book that has been mailed to certain people. From this the book springboards into a look at Psychopathy, its diagnosis and by extension the way in which psychiatric disorders are not only diagnosed but agreed on (that is agreed to ex ...more
Bill  Kerwin
Jan 15, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A breezy, entertaining journey through the public effects of madness, with particular attention to the impact of the psychopath on society.

Ronson is an excellent writer with a fine sense of humor who knows how to tell a good story in plain language. That he is able to do this while making subtle observations about our society shows what a really good writer he is.
May 16, 2011 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is self explanatory that this review will make me enemies. Fortunately, those who know me are really the only ones at risk.

Like many people, I took my first psychology class in high school and my interest was piqued. My second psychology class was during college, as was my third and fourth. I then diverged into the world of sociology which fascinated me and graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor's degree in sociology. Yay for me! Like the hundreds of psychology graduates, I was
Brendon Schrodinger
Jul 26, 2015 Brendon Schrodinger rated it really liked it
Jon Ronson takes the reader on a journey into madness. What starts as a light-hearted investigation into a set of books sent to academics around the world, proceeds to be an investigation into aspects of the mental disease industry. What is a psychopath? How is medication for mental diseases used? Each chapter is a different story about an aspect of how mental disease has been treated in the past and currently. There are stories that will make you wonder, stories to make you laugh and stories th ...more
Apr 26, 2015 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of pop-psych books, so I was primed to enjoy this one.

Journalist Jon Ronson was asked to investigate a mysterious, anonymous book that had been sent to numerous academics around the world. As he was following up on leads, he developed a theory that whoever sent it was somehow mentally ill — a crackpot, to use his term.

During his investigation, Ronson heard the term psychopath and learned about a test designed by Robert Hare to rate someone's level of psychopathy. Hare described psycho
May 20, 2015 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This review contains spoilers

This is an hilarious book by a wonderful writer. He injects himself into the story in a way not dissimilar to Bill Bryson. It had me bellowing with laughter – laughing at him, with him and at the strange and startling anecdotes that unfurled themselves one after another as the book went on. This book is a glorious example of truth being stranger than fiction…

Okay, so that is one aspect of the story. The other aspect is that he dealt with some important issues. In th
May 28, 2011 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining romp and with a fair bit of food for thought. I liked this book, while at the same time being disappointed with it.

My main problem with the work was that I had heard that this book dealt extensively with the idea of psychopaths as possessing traits that tended to land them in positions of power. This is a fascinating topic, is of personal interest to me, and is a concept well-worth a full-length journalistic book. Unfortunately, this is not that book. A clever agent is selling th
Jun 22, 2011 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read anything by Jon Ronson so I wasn't sure what to expect. I heard an interview with him about this book and was fascinated by the subject matter. I was not disappointed, this book is extremely interesting. I like Ronson's style a great deal, and his writing is very approachable. I came to respect him a lot for his ability to acknowledge his weaknesses and then go forward despite them.

Ronson has a great ability in communicating his perspective to the reader. He is very clear about h
Aug 31, 2011 Jafar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is quite lame, to put it simply. I watched The Men Who Stare at Goats, which was pretty damn funny, and I thought I’d read a book by Ronson. This book neither has much to say, nor is it that entertaining. It starts off with a bizarre (and unrelated to psycopathy) “mystery” that Ronson is called upon to solve. During the unfolding of that dull “mystery” Jonson hears about the true meaning of psychopath and goes off to understand and investigate it. If you’re like Ronson and don’t know t ...more
Jul 19, 2011 Lightreads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about psychopaths that I actually liked, minor miracle, and that made me think a lot about compassion.

Okay, qualifications – the book is more about “the madness industry” – the complex of media and medicine and science and big pharma and fucking weirdness that informs our understanding of people who are mad. It’s a wandering book, tracking Ronson’s haphazard introduction to psychopathy, to spotting psychopaths, and then onto a survey of madness criminal, madness florid and newsworthy, mad
Nov 05, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychotherapy
Reads very easily and is well written in a journalistic sort of way. Ronson meanders through the mental health industry in a rather idiosyncratic way. The basis of the book concerns the psychopath checklist developed by Hare and Ronson manages to get himself invited into various high secuity institutions to talk to various inmates. His wanderings extend to a brief look at diagnosis of bi-polar in childhood and some thoughts on the medication industry. The growth of the DSM system is explained an ...more
Kate Woods Walker
The subtitle, “a Journey Through the Madness Industry,” should have tipped me off. This was to be a self-consciously iconoclastic, too-cutesy look at psychiatry.

I am a fan of Jon Ronson, but less so after this book. I enjoyed Them. I thought the sly Ronson did a stellar job of bringing the horror of U.S. torture at Abu Ghraib to public consciousness in The Men Who Stare at Goats.

But I now realize I was making excuses for his irritating, postmodern, bemused style. He's too intent on inserting hi
Sam Quixote
Sep 16, 2014 Sam Quixote rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jon Ronson goes on a mental illness odyssey in his book, The Psychopath Test, which takes in some extraordinary people and facts, and is, by turns, a funny and serious read in alternating chapters.

As always, Ronson packs a ton of enjoyably kooky characters into his books. Like the Scandinavian translator sending out mysterious manuscripts to people that pertain to something only his mind knows. Also, "Tony" the Broadmoor inmate who faked mental illness because he was told he would have an easier
Aug 05, 2011 Nicola rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, library
The non-fiction genre can basically be divided into two groups: mediocre books by experts; well-written books by non-experts. I’d normally err on the side of wanting to read the latter kind of book, because who the hell wants to endure shitty prose? However, non-experts writing about a highly complicated subject matter is not without its pitfalls.

Imagine, say, a journalist wandering into a woman’s home, observing her kids for a few minutes and drawing the conclusion that they’ve been wrongly dia
Dec 28, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychopaths, people who study psychopaths, job-cutting CEOs, Scientologists
While Jon Ronson reveals a great deal about his own neuroses in this book, he casts little light on the psychopaths he is allegedly researching, though he does give some interesting insights into the "madness industry" of psychologists who have studied, categorized, labeled, and tried to treat psychopaths, mostly without success.

Ronson begins with a strange introduction to the field of psychology and mental illness thanks to a group of Scientologists, who chose him to "expose" the evils of psych
Feb 23, 2015 Willow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jon Ronson is a hoot. It would be great to have lunch with him. He puts so much of himself into his writing, bringing up his own little insecurities and observations, pretty much showing that he’ll be happy to go anywhere or do anything provided there’s a good story. This book is all over the place following Jon around and he brings up different case studies after another. In fact, I’m not sure they had that much in common with each other except that Jon decided they were worth investigating.

Tim Pendry
This book is being promoted as 'comic'. Sadly, it is not. It is quite a sad read. I laughed once out loud and smiled twice but only in the first chapter. If you end this book laughing, you have not ‘got it’. You should leave it a little angry and troubled.

Ronson exhibits all the graces and the flaws of modern British journalism. It is an easy read. The man is self-questioning (though clearly not too deeply lest he cease to function) and he is honest. But he is also skimming the surface of issues
Sep 05, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, health
Entertaining and a surprisingly breezy read, The Psychopath Test is a somewhat rambling and ultimately non-conclusive record of an investigative journey into the mental health industry, conspiracy theories and scientology. The author meets some very interesting people -- about whom you can form your own conclusions: I was never exactly happy about Bob Hare.

I enjoyed reading it, but oddly I'm not sure I can recommend it. Looking back at it, there's not much substance, and isn't as hilariously fun
Strap in tightly, there's a scientology rant in here! Wheeee!

Anybody who knows a marginal amount about sociopaths/psychopathy would be right in thinking it is dangerous, and can be, an evil condition. This book is not so much about that. Sure, it is Ronson's 'journey' through the madness industry, but that includes a dally with scientologists, a brief glimpse into the world of diagnosing/medicating bi-polar children and a tale of reality TV hell.

He throws around a lot of big wig psychopathy name
Jun 21, 2011 Lea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a huuuuuge Jon Ronson fan, so it's no surprise that I enjoyed this book too.

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry lives up to its title -- Ronson really does take the reader on a journey through the "madness industry". The book opens with a bit of a mystery concerning an unusual book that was mailed to various academics throughout the world. At first it doesn't seem to fit the theme of the book, but Ronson ties it in eventually.

His typical style is to jump around bet
Mar 06, 2012 Gregory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Ronson puts forth ideas, scenarios, and real life observations in a easily read format. He writes so fluently that reading this book is like breathing. I just started it yesternight and about a 1/3 of the way through, he also highlights certain aspects of the study of the mind in relation to its historcal perspective(s).

Although the subject/topics are a bit challenging, if you think you may be interested in this book, It is well worth your time. Also, I think his paradigm exposes/shows us co
Jul 29, 2011 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I blame Ronson for turning me on to mega-nut David Icke and his endlessly entertaining Lizard people conspiracy theory in "Them: Adventures with Extremists."

In this one he's asked to investigate an elaborate and weird hoax involving a book called "Being or Nothingness," by Joe K. - which takes him to Indiana and Douglas Hofstadter ("Godel, Escher, Bach").

That in turn sets him off on psychopaths, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist. Lots of oddballs emerge.

Ronson's got a funny style, and apparently a
The Pixie Reader
The book was engaging, I enjoyed reading it, however I couldn't help being a little disappointing. While Ronson makes a few good points and raises some good questions, I was hoping the book would get deeper into the world of psychopaths, instead it was mainly focused on his journey of researching the topic. However I can't hold this against the book as Jon Ronson is an investigative journalist, not a mental health care specialist.
I had a run-in with a psychopath once. I definitely came out worse from that encounter.

But that's the thing that I just can't get my head around: once upon a time, I met a bona fide psychopath and in hindsight it was really, really noticeable! But if, according to Jon Ronson and his sources, psychopaths make up a little less than 1% of the population, where are all the rest of them? Are one in ten Londoners psychopathic? (Apparently they head for big cities.) Are prisons disproportionately full
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  • Mad, Bad, and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors
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  • Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
  • Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work
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  • Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case
  • Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
  • Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men
  • Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture
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Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary film maker. His books, Them: Adventures With Extremists and The Men Who Stare At Goats were international bestsellers. The Men Who Stare At Goats was adapted into a major motion picture starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges.

He's written the popular "Human Zoo" and "Out of the Ordinary" columns for The Guardian, where he still c
More about Jon Ronson...

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“There is no evidence that we've been placed on this planet to be especially happy or especially normal. And in fact our unhappiness and our strangeness, our anxieties and compulsions, those least fashionable aspects of our personalities, are quite often what lead us to do rather interesting things.” 166 likes
“‎I have panicked unnecessarily in all four corners of the globe.” 76 likes
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