The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

I picked up this book for my Kindle because I always like entertaining non-fiction and any title with “the madness industry” in it had to be entertaining. Also, since I knew Jon Ronson through his book, The Men Who Stare At Goats, I knew it would be an odd read, which is also always good. (Actually, I know his work through his book The Men Who Stare At Goats which has been filmed under the same name. It’s one of my favorite movies and I’ve seen it two or three times with B.)

Another reason I picked it up was that This American Life did a story called “The Psychopath Test” in 2011, which, as always, was funny and thought-provoking. Jon Ronson was actually featured in this story (I knew that chapter of the book sounded familiar!) and it served as an excellent introduction to the book.

As the Goodreads summary puts it, “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.” He learns how to administer the ‘psychopath checklist’, visits a death squad leader in prison and a CEO in his home to find out if they could be considered psychopaths, and visits a patient in an insane asylum who insists he’s as sane as the next guy.

As is almost standard practice now, I read The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry on a train. (Actually, I do read outside of traveling, I just seem to finish all books on a train these days.) It was perfect for that: engaging, entertaining non-fiction which doesn’t make your brain hurt and can be read even when people are chattering non-stop all around you. If you want to know more about “the madness industry” or how psychopaths function/who decides what makes up a psychopath, or why it’s not a good idea to pretend you’re insane when the police nab you for something, go read this book.

Also, the writer’s neurotic personality traits made me feel far less neurotic myself, so that’s good too.


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