The Psychopath TestPosted: February 26, 2015
I’ve been reading some books by Jon Ronson and listening to audiobooks like ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’ on my long daily commute — hearing about weird military experiments in the supernatural is oddly calming when you are stuck in traffic. I recently heard that one of the books I enjoyed, ‘The Psychopath Test,’ was being made into a film. Although several of Ronson’s books have already been made into films (Frank and The Men who Stare at Goats), I haven’t seen any of them (even though they sound like movies I would enjoy). From what I know from the internet, these films are fictions based on the non-fiction sources… if you are unfamiliar with Ronson’s books, he writes in a ‘gonzo journalist’ manner which has been compared to Hunter S. Thompson. For ‘Goats,’ Ronson became interested in various projects carried out by the US Military to employ paranormal techniques and new age philosophy over several decades. The title refers to a man who was said to have killed a goat by staring at it in an experiment on behalf of US Special Forces. It’s a strange and often hilarious (and tragic) book that both amused and depressed me. As far as I can tell, Ronson’s technique is to interview absolutely everyone he can get to talk to him who might be connected to a subject he is interested in and then reports the results of these conversations with humorous, self-depreciating asides and frequent references to his personal life that create the impression that he considers himself to be an unreliable narrator.
The Psychopath Test (the book) deals with Ronson’s investigation of psychopathy — what it is, how it is diagnosed and defined and how people deal with it (either as those who are accused of being psychopaths or those who claim to be victims of it). One of my favorite interviews from the book was read by Ronson on ‘This American Life’ (the audio is here). I have no clue how the book will translate into a narrative.