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The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  129,821 ratings  ·  7,392 reviews
In this madcap journey, a bestselling journalist investigates psychopaths and the industry of doctors, scientists, and everyone else who studies them.

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 indu
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 12th 2011 by Riverhead Books
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Eric I think one of the most important thing in this book that a lot of people missed is how Ronson started seeing psychopaths everywhere after researching…moreI think one of the most important thing in this book that a lot of people missed is how Ronson started seeing psychopaths everywhere after researching psychopathy and the checklist, especially among the rich and powerful. Then it came time to actually interview a CEO that seemed totally psychopathic: fired people with a quip, has sculptures of predatory animals around the house, the works. But a strange thing happened, the CEO didn't qualify as a psychopath. To me, this suggests that you should be wary about labeling people psychopaths just because you don't like them, or they seem cold and cruel. Don't fall into confirmation bias.(less)
Sara I've seen the Ted Talk too and the book was more extensive, more nuanced and with a wider variety of interesting stories. I thought it was worth readi…moreI've seen the Ted Talk too and the book was more extensive, more nuanced and with a wider variety of interesting stories. I thought it was worth reading.(less)

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Lynn Weber
May 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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)
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, surprised-me
I got lucky so lucky with this book that I still cannot understand it.

Sometimes, I read the blurb for a book, reviews from my favourite reviewers, a couple of chapters which are free somewhere and yet the book is a huge disappointment for me.

Here? I just saw this book on BookDepository, I loved the title, and I bought it.

I had no idea what's this book about, who wrote it, what's the genre.

Starting with this book, I immediately enjoyed it. It was not a quick read for me, but every time I read
Bill Kerwin
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it

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.
Courtney Lindwall
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

I'm not sure how much I learned about Psychopaths but I learned I like the author a lot.
He's awkward and anxious in the most relatable way!

If you're going to read this book, do yourself a favour and get the audiobook!
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first read of the year and it isn't what I was hoping for 3 I decided to jump on this because of my crazy love for Jon Ronson's newest book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed, but I realize now that I underestimated just how much the subject matter of that book contributed to my enjoyment of it. The Psychopath Test has Ronson's humour, similar style, empathetic point of view, and personal life injected into the story, but this research felt meandering. I thought it'd be clearer, earlier in the n ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
he DSM-IV-TR is a 943-page textbook published by the American Psychiatric Association that sells for $99...There are currently 374 mental disorders. I bought the book...and leafed through it...I closed the manual. "I wonder if I've got any of the 374 mental disorders," I thought. I opened the manual again. And instantly diagnosed myself with twelve different ones. (c)
We journalists love writing about eccentrics. We hate writing about impenetrable, boring people. It makes us look bad: the du
Greta G
Yesterday I saw a talk show on TV in which a Belgian politician said that the stock market is no gauge for happiness. This is so true. It reminded me of this book, in which the author, in his quest to uncover psychopaths, visits Al Dunlap. This was a man who actually enjoyed closing down plants and firing people (Scott, Sunbeam). The fact that the share price skyrocketed while he was CEO and fired huge numbers of employees, is really unsettling.

Ronson's book is filled with stories about people
Stephanie *Eff your feelings*
May 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, reviewed, for-kindle
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!
This was a bit of a disappointment. I found the first 50% of the book to be a bit forgettable. It was hard for me to see where Ronson was going with each chapter. Though I found the examination of mental illness, especially the stigmas around it and the potential harms of labeling to be really fascinating, the book as a whole lacked direction. When I read So You've Been Publicly Shamed, I felt like each chapter really compounded on one another to create a vivid and interesting picture of shame t ...more
Apr 08, 2014 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
Aug 31, 2011 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
Kate Woods Walker
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
May 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
May 28, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Ross Blocher
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's always a joy to follow Jon Ronson on his adventures: his stories are as much about his rich internal landscape as they are about the fascinating people he encounters. In The Psychopath Test, Ronson explores the labels we give some of the most dangerous members of society, the roughly 1% of the population who are psychopaths, sociopaths, or have antisocial personality disorder (apparently these all describe the same thing). Where do those labels come from? Who gets to write the book on menta ...more
B Schrodinger
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing

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
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a quite different book than I thought it would be when I first discovered it. Jon Ronson doesn't seem to follow the conventions of writing a study. In fact, it's non-fiction but definitely reads like fiction.

Many thoughts passed through my head as I was reading it but what I found more disturbing was the realization that, more or less, people are turning into psychopaths. Let me explain. Here is the Hare PCL-R Checklist which is used to decide whether an individual is a psychopath.
Nov 05, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library, non-fiction
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
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, not-fiction
I just love Jon Ronson! I adore his unique approach of curiosity blended with what comes across as a genuine sense of kindness and empathy, almost an innate desire to understand and uncover, but in the best possible way. Listening to him read his book, particularly his interviews and personal thoughts, was highly entertaining.
In terms of content, it was odd and interesting.
4 stars
The rate of psychopathy in the general population is 1%; among corporate executives it’s more like 4–5%. Although the statistics aren’t there (it’s considered bad practice to diagnose mental disorders from a distance), it and narcissistic personality disorder are likely higher among political leaders, too. Glance through Bob Hare’s 20-point Hare PCL-R Checklist for psychopaths and you’ll have no doubt that the current POTUS meets the requirements – everything from pathological lying and promiscu ...more
Sam Quixote
Jul 15, 2011 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 easie
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Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary filmmaker. His work includes the international bestsellers Them: Adventures With Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges.

A contributor to The Guardian, Ronson is the author of the columns "Human Zoo" and "Out of the Ordinary". He writes and

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Do you know any psychopaths? Find out about their manipulative and narcissistic ways in The Psychopath Test, a nonfiction exposé of madness by a...
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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.” 248 likes
“‎I have panicked unnecessarily in all four corners of the globe.” 116 likes
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