Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
Entertaining, informative and humane look at a tragic mental illness
on February 10, 2013
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. He postulates on the possibility that merciless entrepreneurs and CEOs could also be psychopaths and so, in his pursuit, he meets real psychopaths and those on the edge. What results is both entertaining and informative even though the thread of the narrative can be weak at times.