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

Jon Ronson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 17 2011
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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The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry + Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries + Them: Adventures with Extremists
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"Engrossing.... This book brings droll wit to buoy this fascinating journey through 'the madness business.'" ---Publishers Weekly
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jon Ronson���������s books include the New York Times bestseller The Psychopath Test, and Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats���������both international bestsellers. The Men Who Stare at Goats was adapted as a major motion picture, released in 2009 and starring George Clooney. Ronson lives in London and New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
23 of 24 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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9 of 10 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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2.0 out of 5 stars A Biased View of Psychiatry Oct. 21 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you want to reinforce your antipathy towards the psychiatric profession this is the book to read. Ronson is a journalist who writes anecdotes about various aspects of madness: people who feign madness and then spend years trying to get released from psychiatric hospitals, the peculiar reasoning behind Scientology’s hatred of psychiatrists and the attempts by doctors in the mid-twentieth century to cure the insane by curious and sometimes dangerous methods, such as administering hallucinogens.
Ronson based his title on a test developed by a man named Bob Hare who uses the test to identify psychopaths. The test consists of a list of 20 personal characteristics such as “Callous/Lack of Empathy” and “Promiscuous Sexual Behaviour”. One can conceivably identify a psychopath by the total number of points he scores after being assigned a certain number of points for each characteristic. The examples Ronson uses in his presentation suggest this test has a certain plausibility. However even he implies that many of the test items such as “Impulsive” or “Lack of Realistic Long-Term Goals” are applicable to many people. Thus I hope the thoughtful reader will conclude that this is nothing but a parlour game unless used by a professional with other diagnostic tools at her disposal.
Unfortunately it appears that many laypersons are eager to apply this test to some of their acquaintances. When this book was discussed at one of my book club meetings the majority of participants said they wanted to be able to score their bosses or potential life partners and thus avoid abusive relationships. If these people are indeed serious I would warn them of the potential for erroneously identifying a psychopath as a mentally healthy person!
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Well written! Oct. 9 2013
By Tammy E
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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!
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Most recent customer reviews
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 3 months ago by Jennifer A Soucie
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 16 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 19 months ago by Ashleigh Hislop
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, informative and humane look at a tragic mental illness
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. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Len
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 21 months ago 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
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent!
buy this book and read it! an anxious journalist on a quest to find psychopaths and learn about them? pretty hilarious!
Published on June 27 2011 by Peter Parsons
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