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Book Review: "The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson

5/5 - a compelling, comedic and investigative narrative...

By Annie KapurPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
From: Amazon

I had been meaning to read this book for a while and so, on a train one day I decided I would pick it up from the travel shop along with a can of Red Bull. I spent the entire two hour train journey reading the book and managed, by the end of the journey to make it up to the middle of chapter four, or around just passed page 100-and-something. When I got to my destination, I continued to read the book for a bit and kept investing myself in all of these experiments and criticisms, these investigations and histories. It proved to be a really interesting book and so, you can tell already that this will be a positive review.

The book starts off with Jon Ronson talking to a woman who encountered a manipulative and evil man on a dating site and told the story of how he only revealed who he really was after they got married. He had completely decieved her and though this is one story, it is awfully familiar to a whole host of thousands of women. To investigate further, Jon Ronson puts his journalism skills to work and goes in to find out why someone would do this to someone else.

He meets a scientologist who begins telling a story about a man called Tony who faked a mental illness to end up in a facility rather than in jail. Unfortunately, Tony ended up in Broadmoor instead and faced a much longer sentence after he was tried for being insane with something called the 'Hare Psychopath Test'. When Ronson met with Tony, he arrived in a suit, sat in front of him and was well-mannered, charming and seemed to be intelligent. However, Ronson would soon learn that these were all traits of being a psychopath when he got around to reading what the 'Hare Psychopath Test' was really about.

From: Amazon

He then investigated a 'capsule' which was run by one man and then one slightly lesser in intelligence than the first. The psychopaths would become each other's therapists, engage in conversation and were even tied to each other in an attempt to kill the psychopathy within. Unfortunately, it didn't work and 80% of the psychopaths within the program went on to reoffend. A much higher rate than what would have happened without the 'capsule' experimentation. Questioning why this happened, Ronson sought out the person who designed the 'psychopath test' and asked him what these traits really included, how to spot them and whether we should try to cure these people or fish them out and restrict them from participating in society.

From deceptive lovers to Jeremy-Kyle-esque talk shows, from sociopaths to psychopaths from manipulation to superficial charm and glibness - Jon Ronson investigates every single side of life to the psychopath, looking at what they may or may not be and what the differences between them are. In some cases, he looks at big business men and how one had sculptures of predatory animals all over his house. He visits the London home of the late L. Ron Hubbard and finds his followers smiling, awaiting his arrival to give him the premium tour. He looks into a woman who blogged about being in the 7/7 bombings and what she has to do with the whole situation. And yes, it features a weird book written by an unknown 'Joe K' and mailed to unwilling but selected participants for an unknown reason.

From: Amazon

His writing style is journalistic but also comedic, easy to read and engage with. His storytelling techniques are both incredibly investigative whilst also being interesting and quite understandable to the regular human being. He does not attempt to confuse you or send you chasing wild geese but, instead gets you to understand that sometimes no matter how much you look further into something and analyse it - you can never get to the true heart of things. There is always, always more left to be discovered.

All in all this has been one of my favourite books of the year so far. It is one of the only books that I know my brother read before I did and yet, I found it incredibly enthralling with quotation, anecdote and empirical evidence blended together in a readable and compelling narrative of what a psychopath is, what it might be and where on the scale certain people may fall.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

195K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

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  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  2. Eye opening

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    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  5. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (1)

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  • sleepy draftsabout a month ago

    Wow!! What a glowing review. I am definitely going to keep my eyes peeled for this one. Thank you for writing about it and sharing this review!

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