I found it a bit challenging to get into this book (I listened to the audiobook), mainly because of the author’s style of storytelling. He doesn’t tell you what his experiences and findings reveal; just that he had them, and how he reacted, and he leaves it to the reader/listener to piece it all together. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad way to write a book, but I think I was expecting something a little more research and science-backed and not so much the author’s first-hand account of his journey down the mental illness field of research.
The last 1/3 of the book was the most fascinating part for me - the over-diagnosis of mental illness in children, and how the field of psychiatry isn’t all that different from a corporation or Big Pharma. It’s all about elite gatekeepers wanting to label and compartmentalize things they see and understand (or don’t understand) with the ultimate goal of justifying their own existence.
Towards the end, psychopathy seemed like just another condition that may be present in a fraction of the population, but sensationalist arguments from within the mental health field have blown it way out of proportion, and now it’s come to mean nothing at all (just like autism and ADD).
I highly encourage any potential readers to check out the audio book version of this title. Ronson's anxious and neurotic personality shines through in his delivery and adds an additional level to each of the stories and interviews he shares. Certain chapters can feel rambling at times, but overall, this is a nice layman's introduction to the world of psychopaths, from long-term prisoners to millionaire CEOs, and the psychologists who have tried to diagnose and treat them.
I just did not connect with this book the same way I did to The Men Who Stare at Goats. Maybe because it takes forever to get to the damn point, or maybe because (sorry) the author/narrator's voice is so monotonous. I quit pretty early on.
Jon Ronson narrating his own books is the way it should be! I first saw him giving a presentation online and I wasn't sure how comfortable it would be listening to his unique accent for many hours, but I quickly got used to it, and his delivery is perfect for his writing.
My first Jon Ronson experience was The Men Who Stare At Goats, a book that investigates U.S. Army officers tasked with trying to disintegrate live goats with their brains. True story. In The Psychopath Test, Jon delves deeply into the nature of psychopathy in both our prisons and our Fortune 500 companies. It’s the dark and twisty kind of humor; the kind that hurts a little because you know it’s true. But afterward, you will feel a little qualified to identify psychopaths by the dozens in your own life. Sooo worth it. Jon Ronson’s voice is awesome because it screams “I am a timid British man in spectacles and an adorable sweater vest!” Also, “Jon Ronson” rhymes with “Ron Swanson.” Coincidence?
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