The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Read: 27 January, 2012

It was hearing that Psychopath Test was coming out that got me interested in Jon Ronson. At the time, the only of his books my library carried was Men Who Stare At Goats, a book that had been sitting on my reading list for some time. So I read that, enjoyed it, and put Psychopath Test on hold as soon as it came out. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one and it took a really long time for my turn to get it.

Like Men Who Stare At Goats, the writing is a real trip. It’s not so much as exposé as it is a journey – a meandering journey that occasionally slips in time and subject. Rather than an argument of a thesis, it reads more like a discovery.

It straddles the line between non-fiction and fiction, between history and personal experience, and between the logical and the totally insane.  There were times when I couldn’t believe that what Ronson was reporting could be true, that people really said what he said they said in interviews, for example. But pull up the original articles and there it is, in all its glorious craziness.

It’s an interesting (and quick!) read with complicated conclusions. Ronson explores the Scientology-styled anti-psychiatry and he looks at those who believe in it so much that they diagnose and medicate 4-year-olds with bipolar. Never are the issues presented as simple or one-sided, and Ronson is very good at leading his readers down one path and then veering in a very different direction. It’s interesting and refreshing.

I can’t close without commenting on how perfect the cover design is for this book. I don’t often see a cover that is so memorable and perfectly suited for the subject!

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