Jon Ronson on his book, ‘The Psychopath Test’

On Thursday 5th July 2012, I went to see Jon Ronson talk about his latest book, The Psychopath Test. I had finished reading the book on Tuesday evening, the third book of his that I had read in the past four weeks (the other two being Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness and What I Do: More True Tales of Everyday Craziness – both highly recommended).

The talk was very interesting, and Jon Ronson spoke very well considering he had flown in the same day from New York, and so kept apologising if this had caused him to slur when he spoke, which he didn’t. Ronson discussed the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, a 20-point list of behaviours which is now famously used to diagnose psychopaths.

He also discussed someone I had never heard of before, David Icke. In 1991, Icke had claimed that he was the son of God, and that many of our top leaders, entertainers and our Royal family are lizards hiding in human form trying to control the world. Intriguing.

During the Q&A section after the talk, one of the women in the audience said she had worked with psychopaths, and in theory everyone is a psychopath until they are 21 years old, as before then your whole lifestyle is based on your own happiness and success through manipulative means, without a lack of guilt and a lack of empathy.

On my way to the bus stop after the event, a homeless man approached me and asked me for money to buy some food. I instinctively said no without even thinking about it and apologised, and I immediately thought of Item 8 on the Hare Checklist; Callous/lack of empathy. The man then apologised to me for bothering me and wished me a pleasant week before walking away. This made me feel guilty, and I then thought of Item 6 on the Hare Checklist; Lack of remorse or guilt. I had guilt, I am not a psychopath, and if I see this homeless man again, I should maybe give him some money.

To sum up, the talk was excellent and I was so glad I got to hear the author speak about his book just as I had just finished reading it. I highly recommend The Psychopath Test.


About writingsuzanne

History graduate. Freelance writer and reviewer. Passionate about film, theatre and music (film soundtracks!).
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2 Responses to Jon Ronson on his book, ‘The Psychopath Test’

  1. Archibald. says:

    The psychopathy checklist describes only a spectrum disorder. It’s possible for psychopaths (not that its a diagnosis anymore) to have a lack of one area of the checklist.
    Example: some psychopaths are able to reign in their impulses and weigh up the risk of getting punished if they do something, so they will only take risks they can be sure they’ll get away with. They won’t risk randomly attacking an old lady in the street who’s annoying them, as they know they’ll get caught. These psychopaths are more likely to be successful than the ones who can’t control any of their whims, no matter how little chance of getting away with it.
    There was an interesting interview done at the University of Wisconsin and uploaded onto iTunes U app. I thought the lecturer was interesting, though the presenter had a dreadful monotone.
    He explains the spectrum of psychopathy quite well.


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