The Psychopath Test
A Journey Through the Madness Industry
By Jon Ronson
(Riverhead Trade, Paperback, 9781594485756, 288pp.)
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
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They say one out of every hundred people is a psychopath. You probably passed one on the street today. These are people who have no empathy, who are manipulative, deceitful, charming, seductive, and delusional. The Psychopath Test is the New York Times bestselling exploration of their world and the madness industry.
When Jon Ronson is drawn into an elaborate hoax played on some of the world’s top scientists, his investigation leads him, unexpectedly, to psychopaths. He meets an influential psychologist who is convinced that many important business leaders and politicians are in fact high-flying, high-functioning psychopaths, and teaches Ronson how to spot them. Armed with these new abilities, Ronson meets a patient inside an asylum for the criminally insane who insists that he’s sane, a mere run-of-the-mill troubled youth, not a psychopath—a claim that might be only manipulation, and a sign of his psychopathy. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud, and with a legendary CEO who took joy in shutting down factories and firing people. He delves into the fascinating history of psychopathy diagnosis and treatments, from LSD-fueled days-long naked therapy sessions in prisons to attempts to understand serial killers.
Along the way, Ronson discovers that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their most insane edges. The Psychopath Test is a fascinating adventure through the minds of madness.
Jon Ronson’s works include The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones, and Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats—both international bestsellers. The Men Who Stare at Goats was as a major motion picture, released in 2009 and starring George Clooney. Ronson lives in London.
“Because of Ronson’s relentless self-deprecation and goofy, British humor, it’s easy to tag along without fully realizing the rigor of his reporting, which is itself frenzied with compulsive questioning and obsessive research.” -- The Boston Globe
“A rollicking, page-turner of a book... no ordinary piece of investigative journalism… Ronson’s storytelling skills are strong enough to enliven even the necessary reflections that would be one yawn after another if entrusted to a lesser writer.” -- San Francisco Chronicle
“…A book that manages to be as cheerily kooky as it is well-researched.” -- Los Angeles Times
“Engagingly irreverent…” -- New York Times
“[A] fascinating and humane book…” -- Washington Post Book World
“…Both terrifying and hilarious.” -- O, The Oprah Magazine