Did you know that there is a test to find out if you’re a psychopath? I didn’t either, and neither did author Jon Ronson. It’s called the Hare Checklist, otherwise known as the PCL-R (Psychopathy Checklist-Revised). On a quest to uncover a potential hoax being played on some of the world’s top scientists, Ronson discovered this test and many other intriguing facts about the world of psychopaths and the current state of madness. His recent book, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, takes us along for the ride.
Ronson’s journey took him to one of the most notorious psychiatric hospitals, The Broadmoor. He came to find out (from psychiatry-hating Scientologists no less) that a completely sane man faked his way into the Broadmoor and cannot escape. Ronson meets this seemingly sane man and when discussing him with a psychiatrist friend, the friend claims the man is a psychopath.
From there, Ronson met Bob Hare, the man who created the PCL-R, and took his certification course to assess psychopathy. Through this lens, Ronson begins to see almost everyone as a psychopath. Along his investigative path, the author met with the psychiatrists who edited revisions of the DSM and people believed to be psychopaths. He also uncovered the fascinating and often little known history of the study of psychopathy.
Any reader interested in knowing more about the history and current state of the diagnosis of mental disorders will be intrigued by this book. Jon Ronson weaves a humorous and fast-paced narrative account of his experiences learning about and meeting major figures in psychiatry. He helps us to ponder more carefully what madness truly is. Also, be sure to check out his previous books, The Men Who Stare and Goats and Them: Adventures with Extremists.