Book Review: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

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I honestly did not realize that this was a non-fiction book when I read it.  I was reading it for a Random Readers book club that I had joined, and it was not until another reader mentioned googling some of the characters in this non-fiction literary work that I knew my mistake.  I laughed all through the book, sometimes side-splitting laughter, but was confused toward the end in that there did not seem to be a cohesive plot.  Yet I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Ronson, a journalist in real life and within the character of the book, takes the reader through his design to write a book on psychopaths in the corporate world.  THAT book never really gets written.  He presents his interviews and acquaintances in hilarious anecdotes.  His style is stream of consciousness, and it comes off more as a fiction read than a non-fiction read.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are looking for a seriously objective scientific examination of Bob Hare’s Psychopath Checklist in this, “Journey through the madness industry,” as an inside look into criminal profiling.  You won’t find that here.

What you will find is a light-hearted and humorous examination of the debate between Scientology and Psychiatry in anecdotal evidences.  You will find yourself suddenly suspecting your neighbors, even your spouse…not to mention diagnosing your very own neuroses.  You will bond with characters, like Tony, a young man who deliberately feigns insanity to stay out of prison, only to find himself locked up indefinitely in a psych ward.  Some of the characters seem very nasty, even frightening, and others are the guy next door.  There is some redundancy in paragraphs that are repeated and the author seems a bit scattered at times as he attempts to pull his examinations and evidences together.  All in all, I would give him four stars and recommend the read.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

  1. What a succinct review! This is on my summer to-read list, and your review helped give the nudge I needed to acquire a copy. I’m interested in what Ronson uncovers, and I’m pleased to learn that there is humor within what has so much potential to be an abysmally dark topic. Thanks for the nudge!

    • Enjoy! I wondered if my laughs were simply the result of having worked as a psych nurse on a forensics unit…but my peers in the book club felt the same.

  2. This sounds great – you’ve totally sold me on it! Side splitting laughter through reading is a GREAT result!

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