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Take The Psychopath Test!


The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

“Funny books about unfunny things” (How Ron has described his own work)

Spoiler! I scored a 7 on the psychopath checklist, so you should be cautious around me, but I’m not going to murder anyone anytime soon, according to the numbers.

I don’t even care what Jon Ronson writes about, I just like his books. He always makes me laugh, I always learn something from him, he’s always over-anxious and self-effacing, and he knows how to tell a great story.

I have a similar reaction with books by Mary Roach and Bill Bryson. When I’m done I realize that I enjoy hanging out with the authors as much as I do reading about the subjects of their books.

The Psychopath Test: a journey through the madness industry, is no different. It might be my favorite of Ronson’s books yet. The title refers to a psychopath-spotting checklist developed by psychologist Robert Hare, author of Without Conscience, the Disturbing world of the psychopaths among us.

Early in the book, Ronson attends a seminar by Hare in which he learns about the checklist and many of the traits by which psychopaths can be identified. Then he goes about his business–his business of being an overanxious journalist dealing with odd people–of trying to figure out if various CEOs and politicians might actually be psychopathic.

Might it actually be the key to their successes?

We meet:

A man who allegedly faked insanity to get out of prison, only to find himself imprisoned in Broadmoor Asylum for 12 years. Turns out it was much harder to prove that he was insane than to demonstrate his sanity.

Scientology leaders who explain their war on psychiatry to him.

Former CEO “Chainsaw Al,” Al Dunlap, a man who now lives in a mansion filled with enormous paintings of himself, gold chairs, and surrounded by statues of predatory animals in the act of devouring their prey.

David Shayler, a former MI5 agent who became convinced that he was Jesus Christ.

A disgraced criminal psychologist profiler, Paul Britton.

Robert Hare, the developer of the checklist.

And more.

It’s a fascinating read. I want to mention that I listened to the audio. I’d never listened to Ronson before and I found that I enjoyed him on audio even more than in print.

He sounds exactly like what he says he is: an anxiety-ridden, curiosity-driven journalist who often puts himself in situations that aren’t entirely comfortably for him.

A wonderful book full of intriguing stories that asks some provocative questions about the media’s fascination with stories of madness.

Now please go take the test and tell me just how worried I should be about associating with you.


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Spencer November 11, 2011, 12:49 pm

    I couldn’t find a link to the actual test, but just looking at the list, I identify with at least half of those. Uh-oh!

  • Miss Turner November 11, 2011, 6:03 pm

    Herewith the latest, (This week), musings of the aforementioned David Shayler. Most entertaining. Enjoy.

  • Heather November 14, 2011, 7:18 am

    You probably shouldn’t be associating with me just because. Sounds like an interesting read!

  • SusanGarvey November 14, 2011, 11:02 am

    Thanks so much for telling me about this book! I already downloaded it to my Kindle. I love Jon Ronson and didn’t know he had a new book out.

    I’m glad a different link was provided, because I really want to take the test so I can know if there’s a fear of me snapping at any time, so I can warn my friends and family.

    Do you think psychopathy is like craziness? If you are afraid you are, you aren’t?