The Psychopath Test

Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test

This is a story about madness. It all starts when journalist Jon Ronson is contacted by a leading neurologist. She and several colleagues have recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail, and Jon is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable adventure into the world of madness. Jon meets a Broadmoor inmate who swears he faked a mental disorder to get a lighter sentence but is now stuck there, with nobody believing he’s sane. He meets some of the people who catalogue mental illness, and those who vehemently oppose them. He meets the influential psychologist who developed the industry standard Psychopath Test and who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are in fact psychopaths. Jon learns from him how to ferret out these high-flying psychopaths and, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, heads into the corridors of power... 3.0 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
The Psychopath Test

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Psychology & Psychiatry, Humour
Format Hardback
Pages 240
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication June 2011
ISBN 978-0330492263
Publisher Picador
 

This is a story about madness. It all starts when journalist Jon Ronson is contacted by a leading neurologist. She and several colleagues have recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail, and Jon is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable adventure into the world of madness. Jon meets a Broadmoor inmate who swears he faked a mental disorder to get a lighter sentence but is now stuck there, with nobody believing he’s sane. He meets some of the people who catalogue mental illness, and those who vehemently oppose them. He meets the influential psychologist who developed the industry standard Psychopath Test and who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are in fact psychopaths. Jon learns from him how to ferret out these high-flying psychopaths and, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, heads into the corridors of power...

Read an extract from the book | The Guardian

Reviews

The Los Angeles Times

Carolyn Kellogg

… a book that manages to be as cheerily kooky as it is well-researched … Ronson has an eye for the absurd, but he also has a heart.

19/05/2011

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The New York Times

Janet Maslin

Though he retains his own paranormal ability to locate and befriend wing nuts of every stripe, he has to try a little harder than usual to get The Psychopath Test going … Still, his winning style pervades most of [the book] … In the end, Mr. Ronson comes up with a persuasive argument that the psychopath checklist and DSM-IV are dangerous weapons.

16/05/2011

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The Times

Iain Finlayson

Like Louis Theroux or the good cop, Ronson acts the straight man or Mr Nice Guy. With disarming irony, he flips the coin of the perceived world to turn it to its disturbing obverse.

14/05/2011

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The Sunday Telegraph

Nicholas Blincoe

The Psychopath Test is wayward, intelligent and always funny. Ronson is the man with the shtick, yet one wonders if the routine is beginning to get in the way of his story.

11/06/2011

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The Guardian

Will Self

... at his best, Ronson is one of the finest comic writers working today. I began The Psychopath Test late at night, tired, dispirited and ill — then found myself laughing like the proverbial loon for page after page, for approximately the first 40, at least … But just as there was a break-point in The Men Who Stare at Goats ... so there's a break-point in The Psychopath Test when this reader, at least, began to think: these people aren't merely shlemiels, they're utter bastards. From then on the humour is sucked out of the text into the vacuum of a dark and cruel space.

28/05/2011

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The Observer

Rachel Cooke

Ronson's new book is provocative and interesting, and you will, I guarantee, zip merrily through it. But it also reveals, sometimes painfully, the limitations of his journalistic technique. He skates when you want him to dig; he does that amazed, disingenuous thing, when a little old-fashioned anger and indignation would serve him far better; he makes peculiar connections between things that are not really connected at all. His subject is huge and tragic and terrifying but there is something tinny and unfinished about his investigation.

12/06/2011

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The Sunday Times

Matt Rudd

What is clear from this fun if frequently directionless account is that anyone who is in a position to use a test for psychopaths needs to treat it with care.

29/05/2011

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The Literary Review

John Sweeney

This is a Dalek-brainfry-up of a book, a fuzzy and incoherent attack on psychiatry without proper evidence. Given his generosity, cleverly modulated but consistent, towards the Church of Scientology for its questioning of how mental illness is diagnosed in the Western world, you end up being sceptical about the quality of his scepticism.

01/06/2011

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