Quotes from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

Jon Ronson ·  275 pages

Rating: (95.4K votes)


“There is no evidence that we've been placed on this planet to be especially happy or especially normal. And in fact our unhappiness and our strangeness, our anxieties and compulsions, those least fashionable aspects of our personalities, are quite often what lead us to do rather interesting things.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“‎I have panicked unnecessarily in all four corners of the globe.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“Suddenly, madness was everywhere, and I was determined to learn about the impact it had on the way society evolves. I've always believed society to be a fundamentally rational thing, but what if it isn't? What if it is built on insanity?”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“I wondered if sometimes the difference between a psychopath in Broadmoor and a psychopath on Wall Street was the luck of being born into a stable, rich family.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“At the end of our conversation she (Martha Stout) turned to address you, the reader. She said if you're beginning to feel worried that you may be a psychopath, if you recognize some of those traits in yourself, if you're feeling a creeping anxiety about it, that means you are not one.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry



“I heard a story about her once,' said James. 'She was interviewing a psychopath. She showed him a picture of a frightened face and asked him to identify the emotion. He said he didn't know what the emotion was but it was the face people pulled just before he killed them.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“Psychopaths [make] the world go around...society [is] an expression of that particular sort of madness...I've always believed society to be a fundamentally rational thing, but what if it isn't? What if it is built on insanity?”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“Feeling no remorse must be a blessing when all you have are your memories”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“Oh, you know what bloggers are like, they write and write and write. I don't know why, because they're not being paid.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“The DSM-IV-TR is a 943-page textbook published by the American Psychiatric Association that sells for $99...There are currently 374 mental disorders. I bought the book...and leafed through it...I closed the manual. "I wonder if I've got any of the 374 mental disorders," I thought. I opened the manual again. And instantly diagnosed myself with twelve different ones.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry



“We journalists love writing about eccentrics. We hate writing about impenetrable, boring people. It makes us look bad: the duller the interviewee, the duller the prose. If you want to get away with wielding true, malevolent power, be boring.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“That's an incredibly depressing thought," I said "that if you're in a room and at one end lies madness and at the other end lies sanity it is human nature to veer towards the madness end.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“Trying to prove you’re not a psychopath is even harder than trying to prove you’re not mentally ill,’ said Tony.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“If you want to get away with wielding true, malevolent power, be boring.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“We aren't all good people just trying to do good. Some of us are psychopaths. And psychopaths are to blame for this brutal, mis-shapen society.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry



“I’ve always believed society to be a fundamentally rational thing, but what if it isn’t? What if it is built on insanity?”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“Psychiatric diagnoses are getting closer and closer to the boundary of normal,” said Allen Frances. “That boundary is very populous. The most crowded boundary is the boundary with normal.”
“Why?” I asked.
“There’s a societal push for conformity in all ways,” he said. “There’s less tolerance of difference. And so maybe for some people having a label is better. It can confer a sense of hope and direction. ‘Previously I was laughed at, I was picked on, no one liked me, but now I can talk to fellow bipolar sufferers on the Internet and no longer feel alone.’” He paused. “In the old days some of them may have been given a more stigmatizing label like conduct disorder or personality disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. Childhood bipolar takes the edge of guilt away from parents that maybe they created an oppositional child.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“When I asked Robert Spitzer about the possibility that he'd inadvertently created a world in which ordinary behaviours were being labelled mental disorders, he fell silent. I waited for him to answer. But the silence lasted three minutes. Finally he said, 'I don't know.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“As I glanced at the phraseology of the research report, dull and unfathomable to outsiders like me, I thought that if you have the ambition to become a villain, the first thing you should do is learn to be impenetrable. Don’t act like Blofeld—monocled and ostentatious. We journalists love writing about eccentrics. We hate writing about impenetrable, boring people. It makes us look bad: the duller the interviewee, the duller the prose. If you want to get away with wielding true, malevolent power, be boring.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“Shall we go?' he murmured, perhaps regretting his decision to show me his army of plastic cartoon figurines.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry



“Serial killers ruin families,’ shrugged Bob. ‘Corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“I couldn't see where the collection of Burger King figurines fit in, but I supposed there was no reason why psychopaths shouldn't have unrelated hobbies.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“Ask a victim to look at the positive things and she’ll say, ‘I can’t. My eyes are swollen,”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“People who are normal (i.e., sane, sensible) don’t try to open lines of communication with total strangers by writing them a series of disjointed, weird, cryptic messages.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“I closed the manual. “I wonder if I’ve got any of the 374 mental disorders,” I thought. I opened the manual again. And I instantly diagnosed myself with twelve different ones.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry



“Bedlam: an institution with a history so fearsome it gave its name to a synonym for chaos and pandemonium.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“Practically every prime-time program is populated by people who are just the right sort of mad, and I now knew what the formula was. The right sort of mad are people who are a bit madder than we fear we're becoming, and in a recognizable way. We might be anxious but we aren't as anxious as they are. We might be paranoid but we aren't as paranoid as they are. We are entertained by them, and comforted that we're not as mad as they are.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“The days that followed passed slowly. I lay in my hotel room and watched the kind of strange European TV that would probably make perfect sense if I understood the language, but because I didn’t, the programs just seemed dreamlike and baffling. In one studio show a group of Scandinavian academics watched as one of them poured liquid plastic into a bucket of cold water. It solidified, they pulled it out, handed it around the circle, and, as far as I could tell, intellectualized on its random misshapenness. I phoned home but my wife didn’t answer. It crossed my mind that she might be dead. I panicked. Then it turned out that she wasn’t dead. She had just been at the shops.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“The killer's name was Michael Stone and he was a known psychopath. He had previous convictions. But the law stated that only patients whose mental disorders were considered treatable could be detained beyond their prison sentences. Psychopaths were considered untreatable and so Michael Stone had to be free.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry


“I suspect it was probably unusual to suffer from both Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Malingering, unproductiveness tending to make me feel anxious, but there it was. I had both.”
― Jon Ronson, quote from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry



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About the author

Jon Ronson
Born place: in Cardiff, Wales, The United Kingdom
Born date May 10, 1967
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