The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson

A Review

What is a psychopath? Should I be scared of them? How can I know if somebody is one? Am I one?

These and many others are the questions that Jon Ronson try to answer in this book: The Psychopath Test!

This book is far from the usual philosophical book present here, but I think it is interesting to see another aspect of human mind. It’s interesting to see how genetic and upbringing can produce certain individual completely different from the great majority of human beings.

Ronson started his interest in psychopathy almost by random, by a strange book contained inside an unanimous parcel.

He is not the only one who encountered this mysterious book and, around the world, psychiatric and journalist have already received it.

This episode kicks off a spiral of research, interviews and paranoias that last for almost two years, and that is summarised in this book.

Mental problems are a topic that we, as a collective, don’t speak about often.
Mental disease, traumas and disorders are scary, abstract and mysterious. You might have one and not knowing it or be aware but still powerless.

However, be a psychopath is entirely something else. Who is born one is usually aware that there’s something different in them. And they act in the way to emulate the rest of humans and hide in society.

Knowing this, Ronson tries to see if there’s a system that can be used to detect a psychopath.

Why the need to spot them? Because apparently, 1% of the population is a psychopath, you definitely met one! Why should you cate? This is definition from Wikipedia:

Socially, psychopathy expresses extensive callous and manipulative self-serving behaviours with no regard for others, and often is associated with repeated delinquency, crime and violence. Mentally, impairments in processes related to affect (emotion) and cognition, particularly socially related mental processes, have been found in those with the disorder. Developmentally, symptoms of psychopathy have been identified in young children with conduct disorder and is suggestive of at least a partial constitutional factor that influences its development.

How knows how many important figures in history were one. And what was their influence in society.

The method that Ronson uses is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-Revised), developed by Doctor Hare. The method is a sort of test in which the test can score between 0 and 40, with a threshold of 30 to be proven as a psychopath.

This book, however, is not an essay on psychopathy and it does not explain the condition in all its aspects. As already mention it’s just a recollection of the two years that Ronson spent on this topic.

The tone of the book is light and full of funny situations.

Even if sometimes, I was lost in the narration I couldn’t stop reading!

I think this book is perfect for who do not this topic much.

Plus, I would also suggest to listen the episode of the podcast “Stuff you should know” on this topic.

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