Let’s Read: The Psychopath Test

Cover of

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Cover of “The Psychopath Test”

Anna-Lisse Lenard, Business Manager

The Psychopath Test, written by Jon Ronson, is a true story that delves into the madness ‘industry’. British author Ronson has written many books, as well as being a screenwriter, radio broadcaster, and journalist. He is known for being straightforward with his opinions and talking about controversial topics.

The story starts off with a mystery package sent to neurologists worldwide. One turns to Ronson for help, not knowing why or from who the package has been sent. On the quest to solve the mystery, Ronson becomes enthralled with the work and people of mental illness, especially psychopathy.

Straying from the inferred plot in the beginning, Ron spends much time interviewing both psychiatrists and ‘confirmed’ psychopaths, along with Scientologists who are harshly against psychiatry.

He starts with Scientologist Brian Daniels who introduces him to an offender named Tony. Tony claimed to have been faking mental illness just for fun, but the game turned sour, landing him in an institute for the past 12 years.

Ronson initially believes him, but as the story goes on, Tony is referenced multiple times. He seems to be a symbol for psychopathy, and Ronson finds him almost impossible to figure out. He seems sane at first glance, but looking closer, his manipulation and facade of normal-ness makes him suspicious.

He heads to the founder of Scientology’s home, learning dark experiments stemming form psychiatry. Ronson is told about attempts to ‘cure’ psychopaths, one being an eleven-day long LSD trip among them. The story disturbs him, and he decides to meet with psychiatrists to see the other side.

The most influential psychiatrist he met was named Robert Hare. The Canadian doctor created the most influential test that diagnoses psychopaths, and is frequently mentioned by Ronson. The test, while helpful, is also flawed. It makes people look too deep, and is an example of how nobody else knows what goes on in another person’s mind.

The book shines light on mental illness and how strong people’s misconceptions are. It also shows how important it is to be educated and open-minded. After all, we all have a bit of madness.

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