Posted in Book Reviews, Non-fiction, Psychology

Book Review: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Star Rating: 5/5
Title: The Psychopath Test
Author: Jon Ronson
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 304
Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology, Psychopaths, Journalism

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

I own quite a lot of Jon Ronson’s books. I really want a copy of his new book (So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed) and also his book on extremeists (Them) which sounds incredibly interesting. To kick off my binge into his books I decided to start with the one that I was most excited about and that was The Psychopath Test. I had heard a lot about Jon Ronson as a person, that he was incredibly witty and funny and explained things in a way that you just wanted to know more, read more, and after watching his TED talk on the psychopath checklist I instantly knew I would enjoy his books.

This book has the main focus on Bob Hare’s Psychopath Checklist which is essentially a 20 item list of traits that belong to a psychopath, the higher you score on this test the more psychopathic you are. This includes items such as “Pathological Lying” and “Impulsivity”. Jon decides to take Bob Hare’s course on how to spot a psychopath (which I am incredibly jealous of) and Jon then feels as though he has these new found psychopath spotting powers which is a really funny way of looking at it. Although it is not true that you are able to easily spot a psychopath even with knowledge of psychopaths (as Bob Hare has pointed out) it was interesting to read how Jon applied what he had learnt to the various interesting people that he met along the way.

He delves into a few questions surrounding psychopaths, he goes to meet people who are in fact not criminals but are incredibly high up in power in the world, and tries to determine whether they may infact be psychopathic which was an incredibly interesting read. The most interesting part of this book for me was Tony (not his real name of course) Jon went to visit a man called Tony who is in Broadmoor Hospital and it was so interesting to read about this man and how it lead onto Jon’s interest in psychopathy.

This book does not delve too much into the psychopath checklist itself (if you are looking specifically for a book on psychopathic traits I would recommend Bob Hares book Without Conscience) but rather it looks at the case studies of everyday people, criminals and CEO’s and how these people may relate to the checklist, I learnt about a lot of different people on the way and learnt a bit about the checklist itself, I really enjoyed this book and various different people in it. It was so incredibly funny and witty that I would highly recommend it to anyone, I can’t wait to read more from Jon Ronson.

Have you read this book? Or any other book from Jon Ronson? What did you think?

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