The Psychopath Test

by Jon Ronson

  Psycho

 

Ronson is a peculiar fellow.  At times, while reading his descriptions of the charm and deception utilized by psychopaths to get their way, I wondered if perhaps Ronson himself was a psychopath, using his considerable writing skills to mislead us and cajole us into buying his book.  For one thing, the title of The Psychopath Test is inaccurate:  Yes, Ronson unearths a psychopath or two, but mostly he presents a series of encounters with people who are merely odd – or possibly crazy, but not psychopaths.

Test is no scholarly analysis of mental illness, but it is a fascinating read, letters from a Caspar Milquetoast with balls (Ronson) who passes on the unwelcome news that all of us harbor some of the traits found on the Hare checklist of psychopathic symptoms.  There is also the unsettling possibility that – with all of our recent talk about the wealthy “one percent” – we should perhaps be focused on a different “one percent”: the estimated number of psychopaths in our midst.

 

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