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

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
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's review
Dec 04, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobook, male-author, science, skepticism, creative-nonfiction
Read in December, 2012

Jon Ronson reads his novel with a tone that is at once deeply soothing and somewhat anxious. THE PSYCHOPATH TEST, an excerpt of which was featured on THIS AMERICAN LIFE, is his follow up to the George Clooney movie THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS. Ronson uses his somewhat more marketable name to continue to open doors of eccentrics who are always fascinating, and occasionally terrifying. While the book does focus on Psychopathy, and the checklist which inspired the title, it is more organized around what separates madness from sanity. We know the psychopaths are crazy, but what about the doctors who feed them LSD, let them roll around in their own feces as an expression of freedom, and make visitors wear crime scene photos around their necks so as not to disturb the extreme environment? Or the Scientologists who try to free potential psychopaths to discredit the field of psychiatry? Or the ex-MI5 9/11 Truther transvestite who thinks he's Jesus? Or the journalist who seeks these people out and tells their stories for profit? Ronson unearths fascinating history and the individuals behind it while also keeping the story personal and self-deprecating. Some stories are more fascinating than others, and I found my mind wandering during some of the final, less sensationalistic chapters; but the subject and subjects are memorable and - despite Ronson's multiple warnings against non-professional use - the Hare Checklist has kept me busy spotting psychos since I started the audiobook.

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