The Psychopath Test Book Summary, by Jon Ronson

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1-Page Summary of The Psychopath Test


A strange book with exquisite illustrations and missing words was sent to several people. They were baffled by it, until one person called a journalist named Jon Ronson to figure out where the book came from and why it had been made. The journalist went on a journey to find answers, but found that everything he discovered seemed fake or incomplete.

A journalist named Jon Ronson was intrigued by a mysterious book that had been sent to dozens of scholars. He researched it and found out who the sender was, but he didn’t reveal his findings until years later when he interviewed Deborah for his new book about the experience.

One person’s crazy idea can have a big impact on other people. The author wonders if this is how madness works, and what it means for society. He thinks that maybe the way we organize ourselves is based on some kind of madness, which may be a good thing because it might make us more creative.

In Jon Ronson’s book, The Psychopath Test, he asks if madness is a part of what makes the world go around. He also wonders if society is built on rationality or insanity. What do we know about the industry that treats and diagnoses people with mental illnesses?

The Man Who Faked Madness

There are hundreds of mental disorders, but the term “psychopath” isn’t included. However, people who have narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder share some traits with psychopaths. These people are manipulative and obsessed with power. They’re also preoccupied with grandiose fantasies about their own success.

In many businesses, there are leaders who have the same characteristics as psychopaths. Some of them can be found in politics and entertainment, for example. Jon Ronson wonders if some of these people could be misdiagnosed or mislabeled as psychopaths. If so, what would the consequences be? He seeks out a man named Tony, who is said to have faked his own madness to get out of a legal issue that resulted in him being committed indefinitely to Broadmoor Hospital for psychiatric treatment. The more he tries to convince doctors about his sanity and true personality traits, the more they believe he’s psychotic because they think he’s faking it all along with manipulative tactics.

The term psychopath came from a German doctor, J. L. A. Koch, who published a book on the condition in 1891. Since then, Ronson argues that psychiatrists have been fascinated with diagnosing psychopaths and experimenting with ways to treat them. There are many opinions as to why they behave this way; however most agree that there is something innately wrong with these individuals and nothing can be done about it because they were born this way or had bad childhoods where they never learned how to properly interact socially or feel emotions like empathy for others (Ronson).

The Psychopath Test

A specific test is used to determine if someone has psychopathic tendencies. The 20-point Hare Psychopathy Checklist includes assessments related to grandiosity, need for excitement, lying, manipulation, lack of empathy, impulsivity and irresponsibility. Other symptoms include early behavior problems like cruelty to animals and arson.

The Hare checklist is mainly used to assess the person’s affect. The doctor should note how a patient talks about his or her behavior, and then use that information as part of the diagnostic process. This can be problematic because it leaves much open for interpretation by the doctor.

The author believes that if doctors believe their subject is probably a psychopath, they are more likely to label them as such. This could result in an incorrect diagnosis and labeling the person for life. Unlike depression, which mental health professionals understand comes and goes, psychopathy is believed to be something permanent—a core part of who a person is.

The Psychopath Test Book Summary, by Jon Ronson

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