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

Jon Ronson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"Engrossing.... This book brings droll wit to buoy this fascinating journey through 'the madness business.'" ---Publishers Weekly

Product Description

They say one out of every hundred people is a psychopath. You probably passed one on the street today. These are people who have no empathy, who are manipulative, deceitful, charming, seductive, and delusional. The Psychopath Test is the New York Times bestselling exploration of their world and the madness industry.

When Jon Ronson is drawn into an elaborate hoax played on some of the world’s top scientists, his investigation leads him, unexpectedly, to psychopaths. He meets an influential psychologist who is convinced that many important business leaders and politicians are in fact high-flying, high-functioning psychopaths, and teaches Ronson how to spot them. Armed with these new abilities, Ronson meets a patient inside an asylum for the criminally insane who insists that he’s sane, a mere run-of-the-mill troubled youth, not a psychopath—a claim that might be only manipulation, and a sign of his psychopathy. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud, and with a legendary CEO who took joy in shutting down factories and firing people. He delves into the fascinating history of psychopathy diagnosis and treatments, from LSD-fueled days-long naked therapy sessions in prisons to attempts to understand serial killers.

Along the way, Ronson discovers that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their most insane edges. The Psychopath Test is a fascinating adventure through the minds of madness.

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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
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
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
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Unputdownable Oct. 24 2014
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. The first thing I did after reading it was order Ronson's other books. Now I wish I'd rationed them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting April 13 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was an out of the ordinary book for me. Very well writtin, with many facts I've never taken into consideration before.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Informative.....however April 2 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 able to identify a psychopath. It does however create an awareness as to why some people behave the way they do. I would recommend reading this one.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Got exactly as was advertised.
Published 2 months ago by LHA
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 3 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 6 months ago by Jennifer A Soucie
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written!
Not what was expecting, but a pleasant surprise. Learned a lot, but it read le a novel-not as the guide-book I thought i was ordering. Very absorbing!
Published 15 months ago by Tammy E
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling
The reader will find themselves drawn in and learning with Jon every step of the way. A wonderful read that will shape the way I look at the people around me.
Published 20 months ago by Jacob
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
This book is amazing! I would recommend it to anyone who finds human behaviour interesting. Jon Ronson writes with such clarity and humour to make any subject interesting and fun... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Ashleigh Hislop
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read!
Hard to put the book down, finished it in 4 days (too fast because then it was over!...).

Interesting stories, interesting research, interesting interviews. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2013 by Tunfæsk
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality reads better then fiction
Jon Ronson writes this book about psychopathy in a way that only someone who isn't a psychologist can, with an unabashed humanity and a great deal of introspection into his own... Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2011 by Scott D
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and entertaining
I had the opportunity to read this book recently. It was both entertaining and insightful into some of the more complex aspects of society including our own minds and egos. Read more
Published on July 28 2011 by L. Ingram
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