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The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry [Kindle Edition]

Jon Ronson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (493 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $8.82
You Save: $7.18 (45%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

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.




Editorial Reviews

Review

"Engrossing.... This book brings droll wit to buoy this fascinating journey through 'the madness business.'" ---Publishers Weekly

Review

“Because of Ronson’s relentless self-deprecation and goofy, British humor, it’s easy to tag along without fully realizing the rigor of his reporting, which is itself frenzied with compulsive questioning and obsessive research.” -- The Boston Globe

“A rollicking, page-turner of a book... no ordinary piece of investigative journalism… Ronson’s storytelling skills are strong enough to enliven even the necessary reflections that would be one yawn after another if entrusted to a lesser writer.” -- San Francisco Chronicle

“…A book that manages to be as cheerily kooky as it is well-researched.” -- Los Angeles Times

“Engagingly irreverent…” -- New York Times

“[A] fascinating and humane book…” -- Washington Post Book World

“…Both terrifying and hilarious.” -- O, The Oprah Magazine

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
539 of 580 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Serious Topic Tackled with Humanity May 12, 2011
Format:Hardcover
'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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222 of 238 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On the right track, but never reaches the depot June 4, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was absolutely engaged by this book--kept me hoping for more from beginning to end, and though it's written with verve and enthusiasm, although perhaps a bit too breezy from time to time, it never quite lives up to its promise, or, in fact, the startling possibilities of its unsettling premise. That premise is stated succinctly on page 112 (of my Kindle edition). Drawing heavily on the pioneering work of Bob Hare, Ronson provides us with a tentative answer to some of the most perplexing we face in life: "Why is the world so unfair? Why all that savage economic injustice, those brutal wars, the everyday corporate cruelty? The answer: psychopaths. That part of the brain that doesn't function right....We aren't all good people just trying to do good. Some of us are psychopaths. And psychopaths are to blame for this brutal, misshapen society. They're the jagged rocks thrown into the still pond."

I audibly gasped when I read that paragraph because it seemed like so much common sense. Our world is as screwed up as it is not because of global warming and corrupt political systems, but because the individuals running it, economically, politically, and socially, are irresponsible, self-absorbed, selfish, egotists who have a grandiose sense of themselves and care little or nothing about the impact of their decisions and actions on others. They have virtually no sense of empathy and are generally pathological liars. They are impulsive and refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. Usually, they demonstrated behavior problems early in their lives and have conned and manipulated their way through it.
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204 of 226 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychopaths among us May 18, 2011
Format:Hardcover
I think it's safe to say that British journalist Jon Ronson is obsessed with obsessives. Known for the book behind the film, The Men Who Stare At Goats, he turns his attention in this book to psychopaths'the rare, incredibly manipulative individuals who are devoid of normal human emotion and spend their days treating people as play things to manipulate for their own gain.

In the book, Ronson takes us into the fascinating world of psychopaths by speaking to the experts and having amusing conversations with the psychopaths themselves. His conversations with psychopaths provide the book's best moments. Ronson comes across as anxious and easy to manipulate, which really gets the psychopaths to open up with him. He's also quite funny, which makes for some great interviews.

One in a hundred people are psychopaths, and those who aren't locked up in prisons can be hard to identify if you don't know what you're looking for. The book includes the actual test developed by Candadian psychologist Robert Hare that determines whether a person is a psychopath. Thankfully, I passed the test and it's quite fun to take it and see how you score on the traits typically seen in psychopaths: a lack of remorse, pathological lying, superficial charm, sexual promiscuity and extreme, self-serving manipulation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommend for anyone interested in psychology
I really enjoyed this book, and have bought a couple more by Jon Ronson to read. I like his writing style--funny, informative, and self deprecating. Read more
Published 1 day ago by MLou
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy me
awesome book
Published 4 days ago by tanya
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended for anyone who has ever called someone else crazy
This is a book that once you start reading, you can't help but evaluate the whole world differently. Read more
Published 5 days ago by M in SD
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good.
Published 7 days ago by JB
3.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening
The Psychopath Test begins with an unusual mystery demonstrating bizarre human behaviour in which the author is asked to investigate copies of a mysterious manuscript being sent to... Read more
Published 13 days ago by readerwriter
3.0 out of 5 stars Psycopaths are people, too
Interesting, but not compelling. Not boring, but somewhat tedious. Ronson seems to be be a journalist who wants to be the story, or at least a part of it, rather than just an... Read more
Published 15 days ago by DArnold
3.0 out of 5 stars Author Needs To Add An Ending To His Book
No central theme and no conclusion. I liked the individual profiles especially Al Dunlap who took such delight in firing people and ruining their lives while claiming he was a... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Scott Shorey
4.0 out of 5 stars A book giving insight into our own ' madness', ...
A book giving insight into our own ' madness' , making us realize that there is pathology in all of us, but our personal madness is what is making us unique. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Emile Manefeldt
4.0 out of 5 stars and reading the book was great to get both more in depth on the...
I had heard Jon Ronson tell shorter versions of parts of this story and was enthralled, and reading the book was great to get both more in depth on the stories I had heard, as well... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Moira Regan
5.0 out of 5 stars insightful, engaging
Very interesting! It made me realize the extent that psychology plays into our daily lives and how someone's fate/diagnosis is determined by someone who could be mistaken. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Most of all, I suppose, I write about mysterious worlds. I write about them in as human a way as I can. These worlds have included powerful secret societies like Bohemian Grove and The Bilderberg Group (I infiltrated them in my book Them), extremist communities - Islamic militants, politically correct Klansmen (also in Them), people who believe the world is ruled by 12-foot shape-shifting lizards (Them), and Military Intelligence chiefs who believe it possibe to pass through walls and kill goats just by staring at them (The Men Who Stare At Goats). In Goats, I also look at how these crazy ideas have mutated themselves and live on in the War on Terror.
These are funny stories about unfunny things.

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