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The Psychopath Test
Bob seemed melancholy. It was as if the crash had made him introspective. He said, almost to himself, "I should never have done all my research in prisons. I should have spent my time inside the Stock Exchange as well."
I looked at Bob.
"Do you mean that?" I asked.
"I mean it," he said.
"But surely stock market psychopaths can't be as bad as serial killer psychopaths," I said.
"Serial killers ruin families," shrugged Bob. "Corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies."
This - Bob was saying - was the straightforward solution to the greatest mystery of all: why is the world so unfair? Why all that savage economic injustice, those brutal wars, the everyday corporate cruelty? The answer: psychopaths. That part of the brain that doesn't function right. You're standing on an escalator and you watch the people going past on the opposite escalator. If you could climb inside their brains you would see we aren't all the same. We aren't all good people just trying to do good. Some of us are psychopaths. And psychopaths are to blame for this brutal, misshapen society. They're the jagged rocks thrown into the still pond.
- An excerpt from The Psychopath Test.
"They say you're a psychopath," I said.
Tony exhaled, impatiently.
"I'm not a psychopath," he said.
"How do you know?" I asked.
"They say psychopaths can't feel remorse," said Tony. "I feel lots of remorse. But when I tell them I feel remorse they say psychopaths pretend to be remorseful when they're not." Tony paused. "It's like witchcraft," he said. "They turn everything upside down."
- Another excerpt from The Psychopath Test.
Let me state for the record: at his best, Ronson is one of the finest comic writers working today. I began The Psychopath Test late at night, tired, dispirited and ill - then found myself laughing like the proverbial loon for page after page... By constructing his books so that they start off achingly funny then at a certain juncture become naggingly painful, he does indeed force us to think more deeply about the subject at hand.
- Will Self, The Guardian.
Will Self in The Guardian
Carolyn Kellogg in the Los Angeles Times
Meredith Maran in the San Francisco Chronicle
Alice Gregory in the Boston Globe
Janet Maslin in the New York Times
Andrew Mueller in New Humanist
Peter Shawn Taylor in Maceans
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