The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry Hardcover – May 12 2011
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“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
About the Author
Jon Ronson’s works include The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones, and Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats—both international bestsellers. The Men Who Stare at Goats was as a major motion picture, released in 2009 and starring George Clooney. Ronson lives in London.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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., given his premise that "psychopaths rule our world", that they migrate to positions of power, especially in corporations, why couldn't he see the connection between the "Al Dunlaps" of the economic/corporate world and psychiatric/pharmaceutical drug-pushing world? That that is the reason for this push to label normal people "mentally ill" and keep us and our children drugged up, sick in mind and body, while the truly ill are the ones reaping the benefits?
And why didn't he follow up on his thoughts in the section on David Icke, where he wrote: "All that talk of snakes adopting human form reminded me of a story I once did about a conspiracy theorist named David Icke, who believed that the secret rulers of the world were giant, blood-drinking, child-sacrificing lizards who had shape-shifted into humans so they could perform their evil on an unsuspecting population. I suddenly realized how similar the two stories were, except in this one the people who spoke of snakes in suits were eminent and utterly sane psychologists, respected around the world. Was this a conspiracy theory that was actually true?"
I think Ronson's book would've packed a whole lot more of a punch if he'd checked out some of the current research on the topic, like Martha Stout's The Paranoia Switch, Barb Oakley's Evil Genes, and especially Andrew Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology. The last book mentioned is the story and conclusions of a group of Eastern European scientists who battled enormous odds to research this subject. Most of them "disappeared" or were arrested, tortured, and/or killed by the regimes under which they lived. If you want to know what is happening on this planet, do check it out. It will blow your mind (it did mine!).
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I read it before her and found it amazing. It is an excellent read.
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