The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry is the latest book by Jon Ronson. Ronson is the same author who brought to light the mostly true story of Men Who Stare at Goats. The Psychopath Test is an interesting look at mental illness and the insanity of everyday life, as well as a cautionary tale on how we define people.
The book initially follows Ronson as he attempts to unravel a mystery which has been plaguing members of academia for years. A mysterious individual has been sending them a puzzling half-finished book, telling them it is merely the first part of their plan. While investigating the source of the book, he bumps into a psychologist who specializes in dealing with psychopaths.
Ronson takes readers on an interesting journey through the world of psychology. He lets his readers peek into the darkest corners of psychopathy, helping them to understand the history of treatments and diagnosis of the condition. He helps readers firmly grasp the ins and outs of psychiatrics along with the controversies surrounding it.
Down the rabbit hole, where Roson embarks to understanding the fundamentals of madness, readers will encounter world-renowned psychologist Robert Hare, the inventor of the checklist which is used to determine whether or not someone is a psychopath. Readers will also meet scientologists, an ex-death squad leader now imprisoned for fraud, a once CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and a man who claims he faked his way into a mental hospital. Each of these people plays a key role in understanding the madness that surrounds everyday life.
The book is a fairly quick and entertaining read, allowing the audience to grasp some complicated concepts easily. Ronson uses a nice mixture of humor and self-deprecating comments to keep the book from being an overwhelmingly depressing experience. This is humor which Ronson is known for, and anyone who has read any of his previous books will find a familiar friend in his style of writing.
The book tends to jump sporadically from topic to topic and, while an easy read, this could be distracting for more serious readers. Another potential complaint readers could have with Ronson is that he seems to lose focus halfway through the book and begins to examine the concept of madness, all the while attempting to impart readers with a cautionary tale against viewing people purely as their labels. He also takes a shot at the self-serving nature of the pharmaceutical industry before jumping back on topic.
Ronson creates an interesting and fun read in The Psychopath Test. It will be a disappointment for those hoping to learn how to crack the mystery of psychopaths and begin spotting those around them. The book is a fun, easy read and gives readers a a brief and in-depth lesson on the history of psychopathy. It is worth the money if you are looking for something quick, humorous and informative.
Whim Rating: 4/5