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Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review: The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

I wasn't sure what to expect from this audiobook. I wasn't expecting a soft-spoken British journalist's sort-of memoir learning about psychopathy from a layman's perspective and then exploring it deeper.And boy does he meet some interesting people! Yes, the actual psychopaths are most interesting, even though they have little affect and little empathy. But also Bob Hare, who came up with the most used test of psychopathy. And the Scientologists who are trying to discredit psychology as a field.

Mr. Ronson made the book very accessible and fun. Sure, some parts were more esoteric or confusing, such as the man in Sweden who was sending hand-made books to psychologists around the world (and eventually to Mr. Ronson) and who claimed to only be the translator. But then you'd get interviews like with Al Dunlap, the ex-CEO of Sunbeam (appliances, not bread) who is a very successful, very wealthy man. Ronson went through the checklist one at a time and Dunlap did answer yes to most of the questions that would make him a psychopath, but he very interestingly rephrased the in positive ways (such as Do you have a low affect? Yes, but he's just keeping emotion out of decisions which is a smart thing to do. And when asked if he is impulsive, he redefined that as a quick decision maker.)

This isn't a serious psychology book, much more like a memoir of one average man's dip of the toe into a world of those who might just kill "to see what it feels like," in other words, the bat-shit-crazy. Thoroughly entertaining.

I bought this book from Audible.

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