Jon Ronson - The Psychopath Test (4 stars)

Jon Ronson - The Psychopath Test (review)

An examination of craziness by the hapless humourist

(Picador)

About halfway through his new book, Jon Ronson has a revelation. Having spent time with the likes of ‘Tony’ (a violent offender who faked a bit of madness in order to get a lighter jail term but ended up being slung in Broadmoor among the Yorkshire Rippers and Stockwell Stranglers of this world) and David Shayler (the MI5 whistleblower who ‘did an Icke’ by proclaiming himself the new messiah), Ronson realises that his journalistic career has been largely spent focusing on individuals who may be a little bit insane.

For The Psychopath Test, he also meets people like Robert Hare, who devised the PCL, a checklist which rates just how psychopathic a person is, and the scientologists who believe that all psychiatry is evil. All the while, Ronson frets over the checklists and wonders how much of his own personality could be dubbed psychopathic. A little bit, as it happens. For seasoned Ronson-watchers, this is a typical treat, a semi-sinister, half-hilarious trip into the dark side, as he stumbles around upsetting his subjects with a mix of probing investigation and social faux-pas.

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