Book Review: The Psychopath Test

image courtesy

Ronson, Jon. The psychopath test : a journey through the madness industry. Riverhead Books, 2011.

Students, the next time you are in class, look around. Chances are good that at least one person in the room is a psychopath. And when you graduate and move on to your dream job, chances are even better that several people in the executive suite are too.

How to do you spot a psychopath? According to Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare at Goats), psychopaths are smart, charming and impulsive. They are ambitious and enjoy power. They are easily bored. They have an inflated sense of self-worth and blame others for their mistakes. Ronson identifies 20 such attributes in his new book, The Psychopath Test, and he interviews doctors, researchers and criminals about the impact that psychopaths have on people and society.

Many psychopaths operate outside of asylums and penitentiaries.  Corporate and political leaders often score high on the psychopath test, where their love of power is useful and their lack of empathy is a benefit. These leaders ruin companies, families and the economy. Many live in New York, L.A. and London, drawn to the excitement of those cities.

In relating his conversations with psychopaths, Ronson pairs an amusing tone with nightmarish details. He bases his book on the well-regarded Hare PCL-R Checklist, developed by Bob Hare, co-author of Snakes in Suits, a book about psychopaths at work. He also discusses the work of Martha Stout in The Sociopath Next Door. All of these books are excellent reads, available in the Ford Library’s collection.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply