Lynn Weber's Reviews > The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
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May 19, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: nonfiction
Read in May, 2011

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 was so suspenseful and kind of harrowing. This is much less profound.

Nonetheless, it's a genial read and certainly a good book.
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01/30/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by Rebekka (new)

Rebekka Istrail And I'll have to put in a plug for Robert Hare's book Without Conscience--


Petra Eggs I couldn't get through Sociopath Next Door. At that time I had a psychopathic neighbour and the police recommended the book. I wish I'd had this one for the check list alone. (I'm reading it now and I'm just past that bit).


Julie I am SOOOO wishing I had remembered that you had read this book and rated it only two stars before downloading it to my Kindle recently. I'm finding it scattered, poorly written, and ultimately to "memoirist"--the author spends as much time talking about this own anxieties/neuroses as talking about the psychiatry industry, psychopaths, etc.


message 4: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline I completely agree. Stout's book is a must-read. Hare's book Without Conscience also is.


Daisy But does it not deserve more than 2/5 stars?


Matthew A genial read. I simply love that description. Not necessarily of this book--it's just a marvelous description.


Teresa Thank you for the recommendation - I will definitely seek that out! Totally agree with your review.


Beverly Akerman Actually, I just read both books and loved them, for different reasons. I preferred the second half of The Sociopath Next Door, an explanation of why we are better off with a functioning conscience, which is essentially the ability to experience empathy and love (and emphasizes that the majority of psychopaths aren't super successful). Ronson's book reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut...and it linked a number of subjects I find fascinating, including big pharma and the explosion of psychiatric diagnosis. Not to mention nude & LSD fuelled therapy of psychopaths in Canadian prisons in the 60s...


message 9: by Esteph (new)

Esteph Garcia Thanks what a comment I really appreciate it


message 10: by Dana (new) - added it

Dana John Hare , Without a Conscience is must read!
Jonathon Kellerman wrote a nonfiction book about children with this disorder.


Leeann Horner Thank you for recommending "The sociopath next door". After reading both books, I completely agree with your review.


message 12: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Bailey The sociopath next door was a really informative read. I'm wondering what everyone's personality types are on this thread. I'm an INFJ. can't get enough of this stuff!


Julie Personally I enjoyed this book a lot more than Stout's The Sociopath Next Door. It might be a matter of taste, but I found Ronson's narrative more compelling and relatable to real life. Stout's examples of semi-fictitious sociopaths were the most interesting part of her book, the rest was rather dry and seemed to beat a dead horse. No conscience. Yeah. Got it.
I like how Ronson portrayed a variety of experts differing opinions on Sociopathy and the grey areas of the pathology. Overall his narrative was just more interesting and I found that it delved further into the many faces and opinions surrounding the topic. For those interested in another great book on this subject I would recommend highly The Psychopath Whisperer by Kent Kiehl.


message 14: by Lynn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lynn Weber I'm an INFJ too!


message 15: by Rafn (new)

Rafn Sigurðsson I have not read either of those books. But it seems you recomend a book on a different topic. Sociopath and a psychopath are not the same thing. Why is that you recomend the other book to read over this one when they seems to be on different subjects?


Ethan Tuan @Rafn: Both books explicitly concur that psychologists use the terms sociopath and psychopath interchangeably. That may causes confusion because some people may point out the difference of the two terms. Ironically, "Psychopath Test", to me, seems to be more about sociopath, while "Sociopath next door" seems more about psychopath.

While I appreciate both books, I do not feel like reading "Psychopath Test" as much, mainly due to the author's narrative style on an objective scientific topic - sounds like he is trying to wrote a vivid fiction to impress readers (I actually had to re-check on Google to make sure the book is non-fiction)


message 17: by Haber (new) - added it

Haber Jeclo You are also animal


message 18: by Sean (new) - added it

Sean Yates The sociopath next door


message 19: by Sean (new) - added it

Sean Yates Thanks, will look at both too.


message 20: by Oscar (new) - added it

Oscar Calva Thanks for your review, I was unsure if I wanted to read it, because I'm interested in the subject but I don't like boring scientific/psychological/analytical studies and essays on sociopathy, I believe you can learn so much more from surreal experiences from this crazy world. Will read it then.


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