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

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
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's review
Jun 13, 12

Read in June, 2012

Jon Ronson is sort of like the Mary Roach of the world of psychology, but falls a bit shy of her deftness at inserting herself into the story just enough but not too much.

The story opens with the examination of a mysterious book sent to a handful of prestigious academics and researchers throughout the world. Ronson is contacted by one of the recipients to help sleuth out the origin of the book. Meanwhile, anti-psychiatry Scientologists persuade him to meet with a man who has been indefinitely committed to a mental institution after he faked mental illness to get sent to the hospital instead of prison for a violent crime.

This all leads Ronson to an interest in psychopathy. Armed with a weekend course on the Hare test, the leading diagnostic tool for identifying psychopaths, Ronson travels to meet murderous dictators and just plain murderers. He meets psychopaths all over the place and begins to wonder if the Hare checklist might lead to overdiagnosis.

The books is quite interesting, and psychopathy as a topic is car-crash fascinating. I would have liked it to be a little meatier, and a little less about Jon Ronson. But all in all, I do recommend it, especially as it is a fairly quick and easy read.

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