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The Psychopath Test Paperback – 5 Jan 2012


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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 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (474 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 679 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.

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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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

236 of 261 people found the following review helpful By HeavyMetalManitou VINE VOICE on 3 May 2011
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eaton55 on 24 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jon Ronson tackles the subject in a clear and entertaining manner. I read the entire book in just two sittings as the content was so gripping and insightful. The big question for me after reading the book is how many people operating at a high level within the commercial world are psychopaths. Read the book if you want to learn to spot them. (Also consider ordering Bob Hare's book 'Snakes in Suits' at the same time, as you may well be working for one.)
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Anna on 16 July 2011
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Non on 31 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting exploration into mental health and in particular what 'defines' a psychopath. Unfortunately I expected more from Jon Ronson. He meets some truly interesting characters yet [I feel] his research falls short, he didn't 'dig' enough. However, this has now given me a good basis to go and learn more. I do like Jon's style of writing, he keeps you engaged throughout and is easy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By lilysmum VINE VOICE on 7 Aug 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through the history of the study of psycopathy, coupled with some tongue in cheek stories about celebrity "psycopaths". I wasn't sure at times how much the author had his tongue inside his cheek, but that's to be expected with Jon Ronson, judging by some of his other work. I found this a very easy read and was chuckling out loud at some of the things he said. (I was expecting a more serious book for some reason.) The author has a very easy writing style, and the book contains some very entertaining passages as well as a useful appendix of further reading. I hadn't realised that scientologists were so anti-psychiatry, for instance, and I might read a bit further into psycopathy in general using the reading list at the back of the book. I have only given 4 stars because at times I couldn't quite see how bits of the book came to hang together - for example I wasn't sure why he included the chapter about Paul Britton, the forensic psychologist who was involved in the Colin Stagg case. I also found the David Shayler story almost incredible. I hadn't realised that this author also wrote "Men Who Stare at Goats" and I am keen to read that now.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Stef-k on 3 Oct 2013
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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