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Publisher's Summary

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. An influential psychologist who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are, in fact, psychopaths, teaches Ronson how to spot these high-flying individuals by looking out for little telltale verbal and nonverbal clues. And so Ronson, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, enters the corridors of power.
He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud in Coxsackie, New York; a legendary CEO whose psychopathy has been speculated about in the press; and a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane who insists he's sane and certainly not a psychopath. Ronson not only solves the mystery of the hoax but also discovers, disturbingly, that sometimes the personalities at the helm of the madness industry are, with their drives and obsessions, as mad in their own way as those they study. And that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their maddest edges.
©2011 Jon Ronson (P)2011 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Engrossing.... This book brings droll wit to buoy this fascinating journey through 'the madness business.'" (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Flavius on 11-08-11

Quirky, intriguing and educational.

The Psychopath Test was my first introduction to Jon Ronson, both as an author and as a narrator. And such is the nature of both his idiosyncratic writing style and vocal delivery, that it took me a while to realize that I quite liked it.
This isn't exactly what I was looking for. Again, not being previously familiar with the author (I'm a little more familiar now), I expected a more serious tone. Ronson treats his material seriously, but there is often a tongue-in-cheek aspect to his writing, leaving the reader wondering if the author means EXACTLY what he's saying. Once I got used to the style, I found it enjoyable.
Although this book is full of information about psychopaths, it will leave you even less sure about their nature--if it can even be said that psychopaths have a nature. TPT isn't what I'd call scholarly journalism, but it's an eye-opener nonetheless.

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45 of 47 people found this review helpful


By Robert L. on 01-02-12

Interesting but wandering

The book is constructed like a travelogue of a journey. The author arrives in one spot and then pursues each thing that catches his interest without any clear plan. This makes for an interesting path through the "madness industry": we meet new people, hear new things, and get quite a bit of the author's own thinking about these people and these things (perhaps too much of the author's thinking) and then the journey is over. Like travel done in this way one is left richer in stories and perspective but there has been no comprehensive survey, no particular goal has been achieved, and all one's evidence is anecdotal.

If you are looking for a critique of, state of, or even definition of "The Madness Industry" you will come away disappointed. If you are interested in one man's introduction to psychopathic behavior and his subsequent adventures with both psychopaths and those who study them it will make for an interesting read.

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87 of 92 people found this review helpful

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