The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

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Overview

They say one out of every hundred people is a psychopath. You probably passed one on the street today. These are people who have no empathy, who are manipulative, deceitful, charming, seductive, and delusional. The Psychopath Test is the New York Times bestselling exploration of their world and the madness industry.

When Jon Ronson is drawn into an elaborate hoax played on some of the world’s top scientists, his investigation leads him, unexpectedly, to psychopaths. He meets an ...

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The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industry

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Overview

They say one out of every hundred people is a psychopath. You probably passed one on the street today. These are people who have no empathy, who are manipulative, deceitful, charming, seductive, and delusional. The Psychopath Test is the New York Times bestselling exploration of their world and the madness industry.

When Jon Ronson is drawn into an elaborate hoax played on some of the world’s top scientists, his investigation leads him, unexpectedly, to psychopaths. He meets an influential psychologist who is convinced that many important business leaders and politicians are in fact high-flying, high-functioning psychopaths, and teaches Ronson how to spot them. Armed with these new abilities, Ronson meets a patient inside an asylum for the criminally insane who insists that he’s sane, a mere run-of-the-mill troubled youth, not a psychopath—a claim that might be only manipulation, and a sign of his psychopathy. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud, and with a legendary CEO who took joy in shutting down factories and firing people. He delves into the fascinating history of psychopathy diagnosis and treatments, from LSD-fueled days-long naked therapy sessions in prisons to attempts to understand serial killers.

Along the way, Ronson discovers that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their most insane edges. The Psychopath Test is a fascinating adventure through the minds of madness.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Author/documentary filmmaker Jon Ronson has made a career writing about people on the outskirts. His Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats have both been hits; in fact, the latter book also became a major motion picture. His latest full immersion into craziness begins when he learns of a British prisoner who, in a foolhardy plan for early release, pretends that he is insane. This foxy hoax worked so well that the convict finds himself incarcerated as incurably mad. From that dizzying takeoff, Ronson's book cruises to theories about CEO and politician psychopaths and interviews with neurologists about telltale clues of mental dysfunction. A refreshing take on the grim topic of lunacy.

Publishers Weekly
In this engrossing exploration of psychiatry's attempts to understand and treat psychopathy, British journalist Ronson (whose The Men Who Stare at Goats was the basis for the 2009 movie starring George Clooney) reveals that psychopaths are more common than we'd like to think. Visiting Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital, where some of Britain's worst criminal offenders are sent, Ronson discovers the difficulties of diagnosing the complex disorder when he meets one inmate who says he feigned psychopathy to get a lighter sentence, and instead has spent 12 years in Broadmoor. The psychiatric community's criteria for diagnosing psychopathy (which isn't listed in its handbook, DSM-IV) is a checklist developed by the Canadian prison psychologist Robert Hare. Using Hare's rubric, which includes "glibness," "grandiose sense of self-worth," and "lack of remorse," Ronson sets off to interview possible psychopaths, many of them in positions of power, from a former Haitian militia leader to a power-hungry CEO. Raising more questions than it answers, and far from a dry medical history lesson, this book brings droll wit to buoy this fascinating journey through "the madness business." (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594485756
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 62,446
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Ronson’s works include The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones, and Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats—both international bestsellers. The Men Who Stare at Goats was as a major motion picture, released in 2009 and starring George Clooney. Ronson lives in London.

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Table of Contents

1 The Missing Part of the Puzzle Revealed 1

2 The Man Who Faked Madness 33

3 Psychopaths Dream in Black-and-White 65

4 The Psychopath Test 89

5 Toto 119

6 Night of the Living Dead 139

7 The Right Sort of Madness 169

8 The Madness of David Shayler 179

9 Aiming a Bit High 212

10 The Avoidable Death of Rebecca Riley 230

11 Good Luck 253

Notes/Sources/Bibliography/Acknowledgments 273

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 230 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(88)

4 Star

(83)

3 Star

(40)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(8)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 233 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Highly entertaining and informative

    This book manages to be both highly entertaining and informative at the same time, which is a difficult balancing act. Before reading this book, I had no idea that there is actually a test (checklist) that psychiatrists and mental health professionals use to determine whether or not someone is a psychopath, and the results influence decision-making as to whether (some) prisoners in mental health facilities and prisons are released back into society. Also, I think like most people, when the term psychopath was used in conversation, I thought "Silence of the Lambs", not realizing that the term does not refer exclusively to the crimially insane and murdering lot. Like most people, I probably have encountered more than one psychopath in my travels and have come away from the experience feeling like I must be the crazy one. What a relief to find out that there is an explanation for this behavior profile. If, like me, you come away from reading this with more curiosity about the subject, Robert Hare's books are a great place to follow up and learn more about the science of psychopathy, although Ronson has actually picked up on Hare's work (Without Conscience) and brought us the research from 1993 to 2011. A lot of advances in technology have been made in that time that allow scientists to "see" and study the workings of the brain, and Ronson shows us little flashes of this, all the while keeping us entertained,amused, and questioning.

    16 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    I wonder how I would score.

    I enjoyed this fast and easy read. It's thought-provoking without being preachy. Ronson's self-depricating humor keeps the book going when it starts to get heavy.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    LOVED this book!

    As stated in the title there indeed is a psychopath test and Jon Ronson takes you along for the ride as he finds out what the test is and how its applied. This book is an eye opening experience! Through the 'crazy' of psychology, the sorted history of the DSM, the very powerful corporate psychopath, and even the theorys of Scientologists and their quest to bring down all things good and bad behind the practice of psychologists around the world. No matter your personal view it brings to light the disturbing history of science in the name of the greater good and propells you to want to search for more. Great read!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2011

    Good read

    All in all a good read. I was a little distracted by his writing style as the book seemed to hop skip around chronologically. I did find myself laughing at times and liked being able to draw my own conclusions at the end. A good interesting read for the layperson and would recommend.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    Intriguing & entertaining!

    This was interesting to read as someone who works in the mental health field. It brought to life some of the most facinating aspects of the field while asking us to reflect on how we practice as clinicians.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2012

    Very interesting

    This book was less textbok, and more general in scope, than I expected. A generally good read and it was interesting.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Great read

    It was an interesting look into the world of psychology and what many professionals diagnose as "crazy". I enjoyed that it was from a journalist's point of view, which gave it a different perspective.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2011

    Worth the read

    I thought the concepts investigated and the various personalities interviewed were incredibly intriguing. My only minor gripe was that Ronson got a little loose with his organization about 2/3 of the way through. Still not enough to keep me from giving this five stars. I'll probably read it again. Beware, there's about 5 pages that get pretty graphic, but you should already beware when you're reading a book about psycopathy.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2011

    Good read: leaves you thinking

    This novel was not a very quick read; however, you were able to follow the time line very easily. By the end of the novel you may wind up having more questions about humanity than you initially wanted. I recomend this novel to anyone working in the psychological field or anyone interested in the human mind.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    While reading this book I learned two things. One is that I am d

    While reading this book I learned two things. One is that I am definitely not a psychopath. The second is that I definitely know at least one.
    With that said, this book was fascinating! It delves into what it means to be a psychopath on a diagnostic level and also discusses the traits that are used in everyday life. Like the fact that psychopaths have really short-term memories, which is why they can commit horrendous crimes more than once (because they don’t remember what it feels like having done it the first time). Plus, they don’t care or have remorse.




    The author interviews people that were highly successful, like Al “The Chainsaw” Dunlap and people that have been committed for being psychopaths that may or may not be (like Tony). The problem is that even though there is a checklist, psychopaths are very adept at faking emotions and empathy, making it extremely difficult for the average person to weed them out. I’m really looking forward to reading Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work by Paul Babiak, Robert D. Hare.




    My favorite line in the book basically says, “If you are reading this book and wondering whether you might be a psychopath, rest assured your are not”. So, if you care enough about being labeled as one, you aren’t one. This is comforting because I think that everyone, at some point in their lives, can ascribe at least one of the traits on the Hare’s Checklist to themselves. It’s nice to know a little bit of crazy is normal.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good book

    Started off kinda confusing, but all tied together and after first chapter didn't want to put it down. Makes you think ... for sure.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2011

    Interesting, worth a read

    This book is definitely worth reading. Jon Ronson is an excellent writer with a unique perspective on pretty much everything. I learned a lot about psychopaths and the story was very engaging, but at times got a little too focused on the author's stream of consciousness observations. Good overall though!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    Label it good.

    I really enjoyed this book. I love to learn and the author presents his story in a way that allows you to come to your own conclusions. He even questions his own opinions and I found this caused me to have some self introspection. I am pretty sure that I only personally know 1 or 2 psychopaths, which is good news to me.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Great Read

    Interesting book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2012

    A very interesting and quick read, I found that the author did a

    A very interesting and quick read, I found that the author did all the necessary research to make this a very informative book . Overall the book will definitely leave you wondering if someone you know is a psychopath. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Fascinating Look at Evil People!

    I think we've all encountered people in our lives who seem to enjoy hurting others. And we read about horrible, inexplicable crimes that seem to have been motivated by nothing more than meanness. The Psychopath Test goes a long way in offering an explanation for this sort of behavior. The book is fascinating and the fact that it's written by a talented writer is a bonus. A really interesting, well-written book. I wish it had been longer though.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Who decides who's crazy?

    Mr. Ronson's humorous and humanistic approach to the business of madness is both alarming and enlightening. We have all heard the stories about those who are in an institution and shouldn't be and those who aren't and should be, or at least have professional help, but to see it through the eyes of a journalist illuminated the problem much more intensely for me. Though I certainly would not be assessed as a psychopath or anywhere in that spectrum, like many people, I have sought assistance and guidance for my own thinking process. I found great wisdom and tools in "Optimal Thinking: How to Be Your Best Self". As thinking is our core performance indicator, learning how to maximize the process consciously is key.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2013

    Read this in one sitting

    This book was amazing, there in rarely something I will pick over sleep, but I couldn't put this one down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2013

    I liked it.  Not recommended if you are looking for answers. It

    I liked it.  Not recommended if you are looking for answers.
    It was an interesting journey through psychotherapy, diagnosis, mental illness, and society.
    After reading this I'm not hopeful in the science of medicine or the abilities of doctors.  Still it was interesting.
    I think I have more questions now than when I first picked up the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 1, 2013

    The Psychopath Test By Jon Ronson 3 Stars Jon Ronson is a jou

    The Psychopath Test By Jon Ronson

    3 Stars

    Jon Ronson is a journalist known for his quirky investigative work. He wrote The Men Who Stare At Goats. This book all started with him being called in to solve an odd mystery that the world's renowned scientists are experiencing. This results in Jon going down the path to find out what he can about Psychopaths who and what are they? How do we know? What is the history of it in the world of psychiatry?

    Jon explores many avenues in this book. He speaks to Scientologist's who are totally against the study of psychiatry in general. He meets Tony, a person who is locked in a maximum security psych ward and has been for many years. Tony presents himself to people as having faked the tests to get an insanity plea and seems normal at first glance but who is he really. There are naked therapy sessions including all the LSD you could want where subjects became the therapists and the patients. That one may have backfired on the researchers. He interviews many of the most knowledgeable on the subject including the gentlemen who wrote DSM III and Bob Hare the creator of the Psychopath Test.

    Jon does a good job of interviewing subjects from many variations on the subject. He meets with them many times, returning after someone new has come up and new questions to answer. There were witty parts and sarcasm laced throughout. At one point Jon is invited by Bob Hare to attend training that he does for people to be able to use the Psychopath test. They consist of prison officials, psychiatrists, officers and the like. Bob Hare later critized Jon's liberal use of his knowledge after that training. Stating that did not give him the knowledge to use that the way it was intended it would take years more training. Some of the people that attended the training had no more background than Jon, I just don't believe Mr. Hare liked that particular light shed on it. It questioned the validity of the test because after it Jon would run through the test in his mind when he met with people. I did not see the validity of Mr. Hare's angst over the book. It's sort of the same thing that happens when people go on the internet and self-diagnose medical conditions. I don't think Mr. Ronson was saying that that course made him qualified to do diagnose people but you certainly can't resist it when you know what the symptons are.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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