The Psychopath Test

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.


2 thoughts on “The Psychopath Test

  1. Wonderful review! I’ve read ‘The Psychopath Test’ myself just recently, and I must say it’s a refreshing read after years of having heard only the view as seen from the most common perspective at present, the perspective of clinical and forensic psychologists and psychiatrists.

    I was diagnosed as a psychopath myself at the age of 18 – that’s more than 30 years ago. I never believed in the diagnosis and didn’t even take it seriously because I only knew what everybody “knows” about psychopathy.

    A few months ago I decided to research the subject in closer detail in order to find out if I could understand why some people apparently see me as a psychopath, and what I discovered has been informative to say the least.

    I know where Ronson is coming from when he sees psychopathic traits in everybody, and even in himself. I’ve been there, I am there! – However, lately I have begun to return to my initial view: I can’t possibly be a ‘real’ psychopath. Or can I?

    I guess the truth is multi-dimensional. I’m still writing on a every second-day basis about my discoveries, what I learn and how I interpret what I learn, as well as adding some autobiographical bits.

    If you, and if your readers, are interested in hearing a little bit about psychopathy as it looks from ‘the inside’, from someone who lives it, you are very welcome to stop by at my website. Readers and comments are always welcome.

    My website is at blogger (for the time being), so I have to add the URL in this post or it won’t show. Here goes:

    Psychopathic Writings

    Thanks again for a good article about a great book. – It’s the first I’ve read by Jon Ronson, but it’ll not be the last!… ‘^L^,



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