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The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry Hardcover – May 12, 2011

633 customer reviews

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Hardcover, May 12, 2011
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Editorial Reviews


“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

About 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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (May 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488016
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (633 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

569 of 615 people found the following review helpful By HeavyMetalManitou on 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 '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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260 of 282 people found the following review helpful By Federico (Fred) Moramarco VINE VOICE on 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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220 of 245 people found the following review helpful By Ethan Jones on 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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