“When Jon Ronson looks into a potential hoax being played on some of the world’s top scientists, his journey takes him, unexpectedly, into the heart of the madness industry and the world of psychopaths. He meets a patient inside an asylum for the criminally insane who insists that he’s sane, a mere run-of-the-mill troubled youth, not a psychopath – a claim that might only be a manipulation, and a sign of his psychopathy. He meets an influential psychologist who is convinced that many important business leaders and politicians are in fact high-flying, high-functioning psychopaths. The man teaches Ronson how to spot them by looking out for telltale clues like risk-taking behavior, superficial charm, and lack of empathy. And so, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, Ronson journeys into the corridors of power. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud, and with a legendary CEO who took joy in shutting down factories and firing people. He delves into the fascinating history of psychopathy diagnosis and treatments, from LSD-fueled days-log naked therapy sessions in prisons to attempts to understand serial killers. Not only does Ronson solve the mystery of the possible hoax, but he also discovers, disturbingly, that sometimes, the personalities at the helm of the madness industry are, with their drives and obsessions, as mad in their own ways as those they study. And that relatively ordinary people are, more and more, defined by their most insane edges.”
*NOTE: Summary lifted from book jacket.
Just so you know, this is the longest I’ve spent reviewing a book. Mainly because I have very conflicting feelings on this. One of which is that I couldn’t decide whether to classify this as a fiction or a non-fiction. So for my peace of mind, I considered it a “loose fiction.” Another is that I’m not too keen on the idea of a “non-psych” person…doing psych. Although, I have to say his insight towards the end of the book was on point.
The story itself was…non-existent? The summary made it appear to be one continuous story but the way it was written made it seem more like a series of stories with no actual connection between them. First, it started as a mystery story, then it introduced Scientology, then it veered into an investigative journalism type of story about psychopaths, then it became a sort of research into the DSM and various psychological disorders. You’d think after going through all this, the author would have some sort of plot to glue all those stories together. But no, no proper ending whatsoever. *SIGH*
BOOKWORM RATING (3/5):