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The Psychopath Test [Paperback]

Jon Ronson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (414 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

5 Jan 2012

What if society wasn't fundamentally rational, but was motivated by insanity? This thought sets Jon Ronson on an utterly compelling adventure into the world of madness.

Along the way, Jon meets psychopaths, those whose lives have been touched by madness and those whose job it is to diagnose it, including the influential psychologist who developed the Psychopath Test, from whom Jon learns the art of psychopath-spotting. A skill which seemingly reveals that madness could indeed be at the heart of everything . . .

Combining Jon's trademark humour, charm and investigative incision, The Psychopath Test is both entertaining and honest, unearthing dangerous truths and asking serious questions about how we define normality in a world where we are increasingly judged by our maddest edges.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (5 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330492276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330492270
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (414 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of two bestsellers, Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats, and two collections, Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness and What I Do: More True Tales of Everyday Craziness. He lives in London.

Product Description

Review

‘I began The Psychopath Test late at night, tired, dispirited and ill – then found myself laughing like the proverbial loon for page after page’ Will Self, Guardian

‘The belly laughs come thick and fast – my God, he is funny . . . Ronson’s new book is provocative and interesting, and you will, I guarantee, zip merrily through it’ Observer

From the Inside Flap

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, sent anonymously, 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, spending time with an international death-squad leader and a legendary CEO whose alleged psychopathy caused huge fluctuations on the stock market. As well as talking to psychopaths, Jon meets those whose ordinary lives have been touched by madness and those who depend on it to make a living – disturbingly discovering that many of the people at the helm of the industry are sometimes, in their way, as crazy as those they study.

Combining Jon’s trademark humour, charm and investigative incision, The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through an unsettling industry; a deeply honest book unearthing dangerous truths and asking serious questions about how we define normality in a world where we are increasingly judged by our maddest edges.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
228 of 251 people found the following review helpful
By HeavyMetalMonty VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
'People who are psychopathic prey ruthlessly on others using charm, deceit, violence or other methods that allow them to get what they want. The symptoms of psychopathy include: lack of a conscience or sense of guilt, lack of empathy, egocentricity, pathological lying, repeated violations of social norms, disregard for the law, shallow emotions, and a history of victimizing others.'
- Robert Hare, Ph.D

I've been hooked on Jon Ronson's writing since 'The Men Who Stare at Goats' was first published. Ronson cuts right to the heart of important topics by having the guts to ask the difficult questions. His literary style is equal parts journalistic rigour, deep compassion and incisive observational humour that often shines the light of ridicule on darker human behaviours. 'The Psychopath Test' explores psychiatry, psychopathology, medication and incarceration of 'dangerous' individuals. The book reads like a mystery novel, which - driven by Ronson's compelling prose - makes it difficult to put down.

The story begins with a meeting between Ronson and a history student who has received a cryptic book called 'Being or Nothingness' in the mail. The same book has been received by several individuals around the globe, most of whom work in the field of psychiatry. The book contains 42 pages, every second one blank. (This made me wonder...in 'The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy', the ultimate answer to life, the Universe and Everything was 42. Was this relevant? Was the mysterious author of 'Being or Nothingness' implying that his cryptic messages, if decoded, could lead to enlightenment?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile but worrying 3 Oct 2013
By Stef-k
Format:Kindle Edition
A book about more than the title suggests, but also delivers slightly less than l hoped. It mostly tracks the authors own journey through the subject matter-very much in his usual style. Left me sure l wasn't a psychopath but certain at least one colleague was. Great as a weekend or holiday read but not a serious look at the subject of psycopathy. Also worthy gift for an ex wife or colleague you would prefer to estrange permanently.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
By Anna
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great read, witty and peppered with amusing self-deprecating excursions. I couldn't put it down - but only a small part of it concerns 'psychopaths'. It also seems that Jon Ronson hasn't quite got his head around the concept of psychopathy/sociopathy, and this is more than a shame - it's a little dangerous.

We start with a mysterious publication that leads Ronson to a neuroscientist who piques his interest in psychopathy. Then we go to someone who is classified as a psychopath but may not be; then to the Hare Psychopathy checklist and a ramble through ways of treating psychopaths in the past. Next step a shallow look at a corporate psychopath...but then it all comes a bit unstuck. We get an account of the unfeeling selection process for reality TV shows; the exceedingly strange behaviour of whistleblower David Shayler; and other stuff that doesn't really relate to the title of the book, or even the critique of psychiatry. If he'd stuck to the topic it would have been excellent. As it is, it really was a fascinating read, but the grasshopper approach to the subject matter seriously detracts from it as an informed study. 3.5 out of 5!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining survey of a serious topic 2 Dec 2012
By Guy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First thing to say is that this is very Jon Ronson - if you don't like his journalistic, quite anecdotal, interview-heavy style, you won't like it. I, however, enjoyed his attempts to get the nub of what Psychopaths are and how Society can deal with them.

He gets to inverview some really interesting as well as important figures in the field, and his various digressions are always relevant and valuable. The chatty style doesn't obscure the fact he's really done his homework. In particular, he's really good on the tale of how professional rivalries and experimental treatments by various psychologists since the early 20th Century haven't always been to the benefit of a better public understanding of the condition, or better treatment of it.

His particular focus is the now almost universally used testing criteria for Psychopaths, which turns out to be not as perfect as you might hope considering a positive result can see people incarcerated for large portions of their life. He also investigates how 'Psychopathic' traits can actually be seen in many people who are successful in various fields and have never been involved in any violent crime. There's ultimately a suggestion here that the most terrifying thing about Psychopaths is that they're really not as different from us as we'd like to think, and it is quite possible that your neighbour, boss, political representative, or local policeman (psychopaths, it turns out, love jobs which give them positions of authority) could well be one.

Despite the troubling revelations here, it isn't a sensationalist book trading off shock value.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bargain
Published 19 hours ago by laura balderstone
5.0 out of 5 stars A good one
Fantastic read. I really enjoyed this book. It was funny and insightful - just the right balance.
Published 3 days ago by Reader1
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I failed.
Published 3 days ago by B. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Another great read, love this author & he never writes a bad book as far as I'm concerned.
Published 7 days ago by A. Hewitt
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
I came to this book open minded, having recently read Them. I found it enjoyable, informative, and entertaining: the contents really need a 'handle with care' label.
Published 10 days ago by Jaynie14
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong, well written, fascinating topic
A fascinating insight into the world of high ranking business people and the frequency with which mental illnesses such as psychopathy can help them to achieve their position.
Published 11 days ago by Edward D.
5.0 out of 5 stars ... gift for someone else and they said it was great.
It was a gift for someone else and they said it was great.
Published 12 days ago by RoseGardener
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Found this very interesting. Got it on a recommendation from a friend, it's well worth a read.
Published 14 days ago by Mrs. Tracy A. Joseph
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book
Published 16 days ago by lesley craddock
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This is an interesting book, I could have read twice as much of it. Write another one Ronson!
Published 22 days ago by Mrs. J. L. Dearlove
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