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The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry [Kindle Edition]

Jon Ronson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Review

"Because of Ronson's relentless self-deprecation and goofy, British humor, it's easy to tag along without fully realizing the rigor of his reporting, which is itself frenzied with compulsive questioning and obsessive research." -- "The Boston Globe""A rollicking, page-turner of a book... no ordinary piece of investigative journalism... Ronson's storytelling skills are strong enough to enliven even the necessary reflections that would be one yawn after another if entrusted to a lesser writer." -- "San Francisco Chronicle"."..A book that manages to be as cheerily kooky as it is well-researched." -- "Los Angeles Times""Engagingly irreverent..." -- "New York Times ""[A] fascinating and humane book..." -- "Washington Post Book World"."..Both terrifying and hilarious." -- "O, The Oprah Magazine"

Product Description

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 industry. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues. And so Ronson, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, enters the corridors of power. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud in Coxsackie, New York; a legendary CEO whose psychopathy has been speculated about in the press; and a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane who insists he's sane and certainly not a psychopath.

Ronson not only solves the mystery of the hoax but also discovers, disturbingly, that sometimes the personalities at the helm of the madness industry are, with their drives and obsessions, as mad in their own way as those they study. And that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their maddest edges.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful (again) June 1 2011
Format:Hardcover
If you haven't treated yourself to Ronson's work, you owe it to yourself. I first stumbled upon his writing in a bargain bin where I picked up 'Them' for 2 dollars. I am hard-pressed to think of a better-spent two bucks from any point in my life. Fortunately for me, I was able to pick up 'The Men Who Stare at Goats' immediately after reading 'Them' and found it equally engaging.
Ronson does not disappoint in this, his third effort. The book draws the reader in from the first page and does not relent until the final. The fact that Ronson suffers from anxiety issues makes his dealings with psychopaths all the more interesting. There were moments in my reading when I literally felt chills go through my body (read the part on the Haitian death-squad leader).
I can not recommend this book highly enough. I encourage anyone who enjoys a well-told true story to invest in this tale. You will not be disappointed.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy topic, light delivery July 18 2011
By Harrison Koehli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I was really looking forward to this book before its release. In a sense I wasn't disappointed - the writing is clever, funny, sometimes shocking. Clearly, Ronson is in the right business, because his book reads like a masterpiece. I couldn't put this book down. Unfortunately, form and content don't always match up, and I've got to say that this is the case with the Psychopath Test. I don't think Ronson was the man for the job of dealing with what is probably the heaviest, most disturbing, and most socially relevant topic of modern times. But I've got to give credit to Ronson for even attempting to tackle it. He gives a lot of page space to his conversations with psychopathy expert Robert Hare, and I think his appearance on Jon Stewart's show when the book was released was the first time ever that the words "Psychopaths rule our world" were uttered on national television.

But, while Ronson provides a quirky, witty account of his interactions with some probable psychopaths, that's pretty much all there is to his book. Instead of realizing the seriousness of the subject he was writing (not to mention the fact that people have been hunted and murdered for following this line of research), he makes some odd twists and turns, basically ending the book without actually answering the questions he set out at the beginning. His logic is tortured at times, and he builds arguments based on premises that are refuted by the very people he interviews, sometimes just pages earlier. (For example, his defence of "semi-psychopaths" and conflation of psychopathy with mental illness, which "Professor Maden" tried to explain to him earlier on.)

He also missed the opportunity to make some pretty big connections, i.e.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Len TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The psychopath test is checklist created by Robert Haynes to determine the degree of psychopathic behaviour likely to be exhibited by the individual taking it. Score too high in the wrong circumstances and you could be institutionalized for an indeterminate period of time. This is what happened to Tony who Jon meets at the Broadmoor psychiatric hospital. Much like McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Tony sought an easier period of incarceration by convincing psychiatrists that he was crazy. The problem for Tony was that his original sentence of eight years turned into over 12 inside the mental institute. Mr. Ronson's very entertaining book flows from one story to another held together by the precarious thread of madness. His exploration of the subject begins with a piece of investigative journalism requested of him on behalf of neurologist who’d received a copy of the book “Being or Nothingness” written anonymously in a code she and others who'd received it believed could be deciphered. Mr. Ronson's first task was to find the author. This individual did not turn out to be the brilliant creator of puzzles, Douglas Hofstadter, but a little known psychiatrist from Norway. No discernable meaning could be discovered from the book because there was none to be found which got Mr. Ronson to wondering. This unknown Norwegian had managed to bring together a group of disparate individuals with little in common except the possession of this book. Mr. Ronson’s hypothesis was that madness was a stronger motivator of human behaviour than its alternative, sanity. Could person’s of psychopathic tendencies be prime drivers of change? In order to pursue his research further, he gets trained in the administration of the psychopath test. Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great...but not perfect. June 18 2011
Format:Hardcover
This was my first experience reading anything by Jon Ronson, the author of "The Psychopath Test." Ronson does a great job of infusing the book with both facts and personal opinions/thoughts/and experiences. The way the book starts out may seem a little off course, but it is very intriguing and indeed ties in with the overall theme and direction of the book.

Ronson asks the questions, "What does it mean to be a psychopath in today's society?" and "How do psychopaths differ from other human beings?" and answers them by travelling the world talking to different experts on the subject. He even goes so far to befriend a man in a mental facility accused of being a psychopath.

Ronson truly does offer a unique view into the world of psychopaths. The one problem I have with this book, however, is that I expected it to focus heavily on psychopaths in positions of power in today's world; people in the government, top tiers of business corporations, and in the media. Although he does address these questions somewhat, and does talk to a few people regarding this, he doesn't delve into it in nearly as much detail as I had hoped.

Overall, a very intersting read, but I would love it if he dove further into the idea that many people in power may possibly be psychopaths.
I would recommend this book to anyone, especially someone with an existing interest in psycholoy, medicine, and power.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly addictive read!
The first Jon Ronson book I read. I couldn't put it down. I will no doubt be reading anything else he puts out.
Published 1 month ago by D. Florek
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well-written, interesting topic.
Published 2 months ago by Julie Kaine
1.0 out of 5 stars A book I did not like
This is a very strangely written book. I would not reccommend it to anyone.
Published 4 months ago by Eliza Forbes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Such a great read. I couldn't put it down and then i bought copies for my friends.
Published 5 months ago by Frog Feet
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Got exactly as was advertised.
Published 8 months ago by LHA
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Unputdownable
This was my introduction to Jon Ronson and I LOVED it. A fascinating look at sociopathy and how it manifests in people from all walks of life. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Gillian Lanyon
2.0 out of 5 stars A Biased View of Psychiatry
If you want to reinforce your antipathy towards the psychiatric profession this is the book to read. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Catherine Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner
I found myself drawn in by the writer's natural approach in this book. I didn't feel quite as uneasy reading it as other books on the topic.
Published 12 months ago by Punney
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This was an out of the ordinary book for me. Very well writtin, with many facts I've never taken into consideration before.
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Informative.....however
I liked this read. I just started reading this booked and did not stop till it was done. The only issue I have is I don't think reading this book would make you an expert at being... Read more
Published 16 months ago by William Marks
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