The Psychopath Test

The Psychopath Test

A Journey Through the Madness Industry

Book - 2011
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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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Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2011.
ISBN: 9781594488016
Branch Call Number: 616. 8582 RON
Characteristics: 275 p. : ill., port.


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May 17, 2018

This book was an effort to read. Even more of an effort to put down. You'll know what I mean when you read it.

CRRL_MegRaymond Feb 21, 2018

The author interviewed a psychologist who believes that many CEOs and politicians are psychopaths, and shares the verbal and nonverbal cues with Ronson.

Feb 07, 2018

I thought this was certainly an interesting read. However, I did not totally agree with Jon's conclusions, but I did enjoy the ride along with him. He has a wonderful writing style that was a joy to read.

Nov 27, 2017

Such an interesting read: thought provoking, challenging, and courageous. I loved Jon’s writing style and I look forward to reading more by him. Definitely a must read!

HCL_staff_reviews Sep 20, 2017

What does it mean to be a psychopath? The word itself evokes various ideas about human behavior. In this book Jon Ronson, author of the "Men Who Stare at Goats", takes a critical look at how psychologists evaluate and treat people deemed as "psychopathic". His stories will make you question the whole industry of evaluating another person's state of mind. — Sarah M., Ridgedale Library

Feb 20, 2017

Very intriguing, could not put this book down until i had read from the front cover to the back cover, Jon Ronsons writing is informative as well as humorous, laughed quite a few times out loud. would highly recommend the book as well as the Author as he has a number of equally enthralling titles.

Nov 02, 2016

It's a good read. I read it more to get different view points of mental illnesses, and the view point of a journalist was definitely a new one. I wouldn't really consider this an 'educational' book. While everything is factual to an extent it should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Sep 03, 2016

My five year old daughter is like me in that she is extremely perceptive and a little psychic. A few nights ago she looked at me and said, "You have a little mental illness." I really like Jon's writing style and topics and bought Them and The Men Who Stare at Goats mid read. I really like the premise and title of this piece to boot. However the content came up a little disjointed, manic and lacked je ne sais quoi, joie de vivre, and soul. I do think our babies are over diagnosed and medicated as are many adults. On the other end of that spectrum is that mental illness is real, prevalent and informs health, substance abuse and quality of life for many of us. I am just grateful that Betty is right and I only have a "little mental illness" that can be treated by my patented Triality approach of taking daily action on the body, mind and soul.

CRRL_CraigGraziano Jun 26, 2015

Jon Ronson sees insanity all around him. Partially that is because as a journalist he is drawn to write stories in which people engage in erratic behavior. It is also because he has learned The Psychopath Test, and he cannot stop administering the 20-point checklist to everyone around him.

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May 02, 2015

This is an entertaining book with plenty of food for thought, yet there's something "off" about it. The first clue is the subtitle "a journey through the madness industry." Do not look here for an objective assessment of modern psychiatric treatment. Ronson's thesis, which he never quite states, is that the doctors are often as mad, or madder than the patients, that is, when they're not power or money hungry. For example, there is a long chapter on the doubtful effectiveness and the economic exploitation of psychotropic drugs, without a mention of the many people who would be hopelessly ill without them. There is also the annoyance of the author's self-deprecating yet intrusive persona, which may be sensed more clearly in Ronson's audio version than in the book. Ronson presents himself as a naive, neurotic, Harry Potter-like figure, constantly beguiled and mislead by the authorities around him. But I refuse to believe a journalist of 20 years experience would be unaware of the history of Scientology versus psychiatry, or would neglect to research the background of a resident of Broadmoor before visiting him. Ronson's stories may lead you in interesting directions, but he has intentionally written about psychiatry in a way that will make you shrug your shoulders and say "eh, who knows?"

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Jan 29, 2012

You're standing on an escalator and you watch the people going past on the opposite escalator. If you could climb inside their brains, you would see we aren't all the same. We aren't all good people just trying to do good. Some of us are psychopaths.

Aug 12, 2011

There is no evidence that we've been placed on this planet to be especially happy or especially normal. And in fact our unhappiness and our strangeness, our anxieties and compulsions, those least fashionable aspects of our personalities, are quite often what lead us to do rather interesting things.

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Sep 12, 2011

marishkajuko thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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JeremiahSutherland May 03, 2012

This is a story about Ronson's quest to find out what constitutes a psychopath.

He starts with someone who is merely obsessive and goes on from there to individuals incarcerated in mental institutions.

From there, he interviews others who are psychopaths but have been successful in business possibly because of their condition.


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