The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
A Journey Through the Madness Industry

82%

13 Critic Reviews

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."
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

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.


 

About Jon Ronson

See more books from this 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.
 
Published May 12, 2011 by Riverhead. 272 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Biographies & Memoirs, History, Professional & Technical, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jun 05 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Psychopath Test
All: 13 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 3

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by JANET MASLIN on May 16 2011

Mr. Ronson, a popular British journalist, seems to have begun writing without a clear idea of what he was after, beyond trying to ferret out psychopaths and learn how their symptoms are defined.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Mar 21 2011

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."

Read Full Review of The Psychopath Test: A Journe... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by DARLENE MICHAUD on May 27 2011

The Psychopath Test is a fascinating journey through the minds of madness. Jon Ronson's exploration of a potential hoax being played on the world's top neurologists takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by CAROL RIFKA BRUNT on Aug 13 2012

I was gripped by the anecdote about a mysterious cryptic book that's been sent to numerous academics across the world. Later I was even more awed by his portrayal of "Tony from Broadmoor" a man who claims he faked being a psychopath...

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Nicholas Blincoe on Jun 13 2011

The Psychopath Test is wayward, intelligent and always funny. Ronson is the man with the shtick, yet one wonders if the routine is beginning to get in the way of his story.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Meredith Maran on May 30 2011

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.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Karen Hansen

Ultimately, he provides a good read that jars us into thinking about psychiatric diagnoses and treatments. Ronson, a self-reflective writer, pushes us to consider our “maddest edges” and how they influence our society.

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Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Special to the Oregonian on Jul 16 2011

What begins as an offhand investigation into a series of bizarre anonymous mailings to academics around the globe soon becomes an investigation into the fringes of psychological research.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Lloyd Rose on Jul 08 2011

This fascinating and humane book covers a lot of ground. Jon Ronson (“The Men Who Stare at Goats”) does indeed take a journey through “the madness industry”...

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Macleans

Below average
Reviewed by Peter Shawn Taylor on May 25 2011

The bad news: Canada appears to be overrepresented when it comes to stories about psychopaths.

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Independent.ie

Excellent
Reviewed by Rosita Sweetman on Oct 16 2011

The Psychopath Test is a terrific contribution to the madness debate, but I'd still like to know what (human) events produce such damaged people -- long before the professionals or the pills get to them.

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Business Week

Excellent
Reviewed by Bryant Urstadt on Jul 21 2011

Jon Ronson’s journey through the madness industry shows that corporate leaders score alarmingly high on a definitive psychopath test

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New York Observer

Below average
Reviewed by Maureen Tkacik on May 10 2011

The Psychopath Test is so emotionally and psychologically untaxing to read that I began to suspect halfway through that I would finish it without “feeling” like I had actually read “a book.”

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Terri McGinty 23 May 2013

Rated the book as 3 out of 5

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