Just finished “The Psychopath Test: A journey Through the Madness Industry” by the guy who brought you “The Men Who Stare At Goats.” The book, not the movie.
Ronson’s prose reads like TV, especially with the juicy chapter stops built like commercial breaks, but that’s not a bad thing. This is a lively, fun read and thought-provoking to boot. The thesis, and the main focus of the book, is that psychopaths are a lot more ubiquitous in our society than we know and funnily enough, psychopathic tendencies align very well with characteristics can that make one stunningly popular and successful in politics, business, etc.
Ronson comes upon the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, meets its architect and other interested individuals including psychopathic patients and captains of industry, and begins picking at the notion that our society actually rewards madness, even requires it in a subtle, sinister, reality TV-based way.
There’s more thought provoking here than thought following or thought fleshing, but it’s not a superficial book. To chase down the implications that occur to Ronson through his journey would require academic treatises and senate subcommittees and possibly jackbooted shock troops. It’s just that while the premise concerns our wider society, the only insights ultimately furnished are local ones about you, what you’re watching on telly, and if you’re over-medicating your kids or being over-medicated yourself. It’s very worthwhile, and I recommend the book. Go on and buy it. It’s the kind of book you’ll want to lend out and revisit once Campaign 2012 really gets underway.
(Google “Newt Gingrich psychopath.” You know you want to. Or you will after you read this.)