The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

I wanted to read The Psychopath Test: a Journey Through the Madness Industry for quite some time, not because I was interested in psychopaths, but because I am a huge fan of Jon Ronson. Jon Ronson is a British reporter who seems to have a knack for exploring the fringes of society. Ever get stuck behind someone in traffic with a plethora of homemade bumper stickers?  At parties, do you become a sounding board for someone offering unsolicited conspiracy theories? These are Jon Ronson’s people. Well, they aren’t his followers per se, but he is interested in exploring what they have to say. The good news is he takes you along for the ride from the comfort  and safety of your home.

Ronson’s journey is often full of trial and error with a good dose of humor and hilarity. Many years ago, I tried to read The Sociopath Next Door by  Martha Stout and found myself diagnosing a long time frenemy. I had to stop reading the book, it was too disturbing and the book was written with the idea of proximity. Jon Ronson’s humor, descriptive abilities and his willingness to laugh at himself makes this difficult and scary topic very palatable.

This book is informative and entertaining throughout. Many chapters are about the phenomena of psychopathy. Ronson interviews people classified as psychopaths and leading professionals.  As the book progresses, Ronson looks at the bigger picture of how we classify behavior as normal or as part of a mental illness.  He talks to Scientologists who are against psychiatry as well as professionals in the mental health field who place value on the tenets of their discipline. Between the extremes is a very gray area. Ronson is not afraid to second guess himself even if that means the reader too experiences confusion and doubt. One thing everyone can agree on, behavior classification impacts society and the individual exponentially.

By the way, I am pretty sure I am not a psychopath.

To see if you – or the people you know – are, find and reserve this book in our catalog.

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