Book Club Review – The Psychopath Test

I heard about this book when the author, Jon Ronson, appeared on The Daily Show. Ronson also wrote Men Who Stare At Goats. This book chronicles Ronson interviewing a variety of alleged psychopaths, from a Haitian death squad captain to the former CEO of Scott Paper. He also discusses various methods of determining psychopathy and different treatments of the disorder throughout history.

As someone with a slight obsession with psychopaths (currently, my favorite TV show is Criminal Minds), I understand Ronson’s interest in the subject matter. Unlike Criminal Minds, the book doesn’t focus on the violent details of any crimes. Instead Ronson questions how we discover who around us are psychopaths and whether or not treatment is effective. The book focuses on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, the standard bearer for determining psychopathy. Ronson applies to the test to the people he interviews in the book. Ronson also questions if he or the people around him are psychopaths as well.

The book isn’t an academic work. Ronson spends a good portion of the book discussing his own problems with anxiety as well as an investigation into a mysterious package received by a friend. The book is, however, very entertaining and raises a number of questions about what, exactly, is a psychopath.

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