Usually when I do these little book reports for this blog, it’s often to warn you not to read the book. I’m happy to report that this is not the case with The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson (best known for his bestseller The Men Who Stare at Goats.)
Are you a psychopath? How do you know? Actually if you wonder if you might be a psychopath, the chances are very high that you are not a psychopath. There is a test given to suspected psychopaths, where a mental health expert sees how you score on 20 questions known as the Hare psychopathy test.
The book is delightfully quirky with a strong narrative voice. For example, Ronson buys a copy of the DSM-IV and promptly diagnoses himself with twelve mental illnesses. It also shows his misadventures with Scientologists, who are adamantly opposed to psychology or psychiatry.
The book also looks at the history of treating psychopaths and how this history blends into everyday problems of dealing with psychopaths, which are estimated to make up about 1% of the world’s population. Most psychopaths aren’t locked up. They can still hold down jobs and often excel at their jobs. Ronson looks at one CEO multi-millionaire who made his fortune firing people and closing down manufacturing plants.