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

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
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Aug 27, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2011, audiobook, non-fiction
Read from August 27 to 28, 2011

I am honestly uncertain if this is truly non-fiction, but I think it's trying to be, so I'm going to mark it as such. Also, I recently heard a review that described an audiobook as "good background," which I think this qualifies as--it's OK for listening to in the background, but isn't anything spectacular.

This book falls into the category of "pop psychology" type books that seem to have become so popular of late. Also in this category are anything by Malcolm Gladwell and books like The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. I suppose Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything also falls into this category, but I actually liked that book. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry suffers from the same issues I have with many of Gladwell's books--repetitive circling around a thesis. This book, as others do, wanders around a topic and to some extent makes a few points about the topic (in this case, the madness industry), but more than anything else feels like a wandering way of stroking the author's ego. This one goes a little farther--this one identifies the author's neuroses and he spends a good bit of time (purposely or not) trying to make the reader feel badly for him.

In all honesty, if chapters 1 and 10 were not in the book, or if they weren't quite as good, I'd probably have given this 1 star. Chapter 1 was an interesting introduction--I found the "mystery" of the book more interesting than the premise that the people in it were psychopathic or at least mentally ill. Chapter 10 provides a discussion of the development of identifying mental illness and how it may be overused these days. Chapter 10 exemplifies what I think is wrong with the medical/pharmaceutical industry in general, and I was glad to see Ronson address it--especially as it deals with children. But the rest of the book could probably be skimmed or skipped. I've probably given up on books of this genre for good, though..
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Reading Progress

08/28/2011 page 81
28.0% "Scopolamine is a hallucinogenic? I thought it was anti-nausea (at least, that's what they call the patches they give me when I have surgery)."
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Rick (new) - added it

Rick I am glad to see that someone else has identified Gladwell's stuff in the same way as I see it: meandering around and around, saying little to nothing, but sounding profound. He adds nothing to our cultural understanding - a P.T. Barnum of publishing.


Mish I like Malcolm Gladwell too - have you read Blink?


message 3: by Rick (new) - added it

Rick Mish wrote: "I like Malcolm Gladwell too - have you read Blink?"

I don't like him ... think he's a smart hack.


Mish Rick wrote: "I don't like him ... think he's a smart hack."

There is that but I like it - I'm a sucker for the type - also Louis Theroux - if he wrote it would probably be in this style.

Dare I say I find Jeremy Clarkson's writing similarly enjoyable.

Smart Hack - it could be a genre of its own!


terpkristin I didn't care for Blink (I rated it 2 stars). He seems like a smart enough guy who's got some ideas but his books drive me nuts. As with most pop-psychology and other similar genre books, his books are too repetitive. He says the same thing over and over and over. One chapter was enough. Interesting idea, but it needs more to be a book, not just the same thing repeated over and over...and over...


message 6: by Rick (new) - added it

Rick I agree completely.


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