The Psychopath Test: A Journey Into The Madness Industry

I usually don’t have time to finish books this fast, but having two six hour car rides really gives you a lot of well needed reading time. I finished this book yesterday somewhere in Illinois just when I was beginning to feel the onset effects of reading in a bumpy car for three and a half hours. This book was absolutely and positively AMAZING. Like I am mindblown. It will defiantly go down as one of my favourite books, ever. I give it six stars out of five. If you have any interest at all about the world of psychopaths or mental illness or even just like reading about interesting and creepy things, than this is the book for you. I found it to be very accurate and informational while also giving a slight humour element into it and a really interesting sense of mystery that makes you want to keep reading.

This book was written by the genius Jon Ronson as I described earlier in my before the book post. He is an amazing author, who in my opinion has a very similar style of writing to Sarah Vowell, but his writings are about the history and current investigations of psychological and social issues rather than American History. He uses a very personal tone that makes you feel as if you’re living this story along with him and learning more about the issues at hand.

I won’t tell all about the book, I don’t want to give too much away, there will be very very minour spoiler alerts, but nothing you need to concern yourself with too much. The book begins when Ronson receives a call from a neurologist, who wants Ronson to use his journalistic experience and ties to help her solve a mystery. Around the world, many intellectuals had received a mysterious book called ” Being or Nothingness”, that contains 42 pages, 21 of them with writing and 21 of them without. The writing is all jumbled and nonsense and on the front cover it reads:

This book is so interesting and really odd, the strangeness of it all makes it that much more enticing. (If you want to read the actual book that those people received in the mail you can find a link here). Anyways, Ronson goes on an investigation to find who wrote this book and what it’s all about. I won’t go any further into these descriptions because I don’t want to give too much away, I’ll just say it is a reoccurring theme in the book. From his experience with this book, Ronson gets the idea to research Psychopaths and their impact on society, more specifically if they do indeed run society.

Through this book he meets many interesting people. He talks to Scientologists, Tony ( a patient at Broadmoor, a mental institute who came in contact with Scientologists to help him), Robert D. Hare ( the creator of the Psychopath Checklist and whose book Without Conscious I am currently reading), Toto Constant ( a prominent figure arrested for his distant involvement with killings of children, whom Ronson had previously met), Al Dunlap ( a cooperate Tycoon who used to own the Sunbeam toaster company), and many other people that are related to the diagnosis and meeting of Psychopaths and their impact on society.

Ronson also goes through many psychological experiments and psychologists that have made profound bounds in the research and discovery of psychopaths. One of the experiments stuck with my mind, for whatever reason. At Oakridge Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Canada, psychologist Elliot Barker, decided to do a very interesting and controversial experiment. At Oakridge he decided to gather up some of the psychopaths in the population, by handing out questionnaires and choosing the ones that answered with psychopathic tendencies (although these were highly unreliable and many people who were not psychopaths were wrongly selected to be apart of this experiment). Than once these people were chosen, they were locked in a room that was entirely green, even the floors. They were forced to stay in there for extended periods of time being fed through straws in the walls, and given LSD, hoping that they would be able to feel an emotional catchment to each other. After getting false reports from the psychopaths that this method was working, Barker than thought that it would be a good idea to let all 26 psychopathic patients run amuck in the whole area of the psychiatric hospital while on an LSD trip. Needless to say when he came to work the next day, the locks had been changed.

This is overall a very interesting book that really dives deep into the pschopathic psyche and what they really are and capable of doing. This combined with Ronson’s great style of writing leads to a great read and probably one of my favourites ever.