The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness IndustryThe Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw Jon Ronson on The Daily Show and his book sounded interesting. The book is multifaceted as he looks into the mental illness industry and he takes a look at the theory that psychopaths are running the world. Jon (Ronson) interviews scientologists (who believe that the doctors are manufacturing mental illnesses), doctors and psychopaths.

The theory that psychopaths are running the world comes from the fact that about 1% of the population are psychopaths, the lower or higher you go in society the percentage of psychopaths goes up. According to this book about 20% of inmates are psychopaths and about 4% of CEO’s are psychopaths.

(Scary thought: Next time you are at a sporting event or concert, stop and think, for every 1,000 people there, there are10 psychopaths).

Jon also looks at madness in the media. It seems that if you have the right kind of madness you’ll get attention from the news or end up on a reality TV show. Apparently the general population wants to see people that are crazier than they are so they can say “I’m not that bad”. After reading this part of the book I was thinking, “that explains a lot”.

The book contains the Bob Hare Checklist (it can also be found online). The checklist will help you spot psychopaths on your own. Doctors use it to rate someones responses and them give them points either 0, 1, or 2. There are 20 items on the checklist so the maximum score someone can get is 40.To be diagnosed as a psychopath someone would need to score at least 30.

Here is the checklist:

The twenty traits assessed by the PCL-R score are:

glib and superficial charm
grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
need for stimulation
pathological lying
cunning and manipulativeness
lack of remorse or guilt
shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
callousness and lack of empathy
parasitic lifestyle
poor behavioral controls
sexual promiscuity
early behavior problems
lack of realistic long-term goals
failure to accept responsibility for own actions
many short-term marital relationships
juvenile delinquency
revocation of conditional release
criminal versatility

The book also takes a look at misdiagnosing, over labeling, over medicating and pharmaceutical companies pushing their drugs.

I have to say although I found many interesting things in this book and thought it was well done. I just didn’t think it was a really good of a read. I just can’t quite put my finger on why.

Bob Hare’s site:

There are plenty of other sites if you are interested just search The Psychopath Test.

View all my reviews


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