The Psychopath Test: A Story of Madness

I’ve been a Jon Ronson fan ever since I read his first book Them: Adventures with Extremists, where he interviews David Icke who thinks the world is run by giant alien pedophile lizards.

His second book, The Men Who Stare At Goats deals with paranormal practices in the US military to create super soldiers who can walk through walls and kill goats by staring them down.

Jon Ronson’s humorous writing style and penchant for the strange and unusual make for very interesting reading, and it is very hard to believe that he writes non-fiction.

In his 3rd book, The Psychopath Test, a strange event leads him to investigate how other people’s madness affects the world.  His investigation leads him to interview prominent psychiatrists, nice scientologists, an MI5 agent / cross-dresser /self-proclaimed messiah, and Bob Hare, creator of the PCL – R or the Psychopathy Checklist used by psychiatrists to identify potential psychopaths.

Armed with his new psychopath-detecting skills, and using his unique brand of gonzo journalism, Jon Ronson sets out to test  the (in)sanity of certain high-profile personalities.  He, along with many other psychiatrists, writers, sociologists, researchers, etc. believe that a lot of the people in places of power, such as the government, in politics, in Wall St., in the media, etc, may in fact, be psychopaths, and it is their psychopathic ideas and madness that influence events in the world.

As Jon learns more about mental disorders and psychopathy, he starts to question his own sanity and analyzes his own mental disorders.  He also becomes extremely aware of how dangerous Bob Hare’s  psychopath-detection checklist can be in the wrong hands.

While reading the book, two things crossed my mind:  (1)  I started wondering whether I too exhibited certain psychopathic traits, but was strangely comforted when a psychiatrist Jon interviewed for his book said:

“…if you’re beginning to feel worried that you may be a psychopath, if you recognize some of those traits in yourself, if you’re feeling a creeping anxiety about it, that means you are not one.”

and (2) I was (not so) surprised to discover that a lot of people I associate with in real life (I don’t really want to call them my “friends”) may actually be psychopaths according to Bob Hare’s checklist.

At least now I know why they do the things they do…

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8 thoughts on “The Psychopath Test: A Story of Madness

  1. When I was reading this book, I thought I was a psychopath. Good thing, it was cleared in the book that to feel anxiousness about the possibility of being one is a good sign that you’re not. 🙂

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