The Psychopath Test

After I read The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson, I recommended it to Russell. I thought perhaps the list of 20 characteristics common to psychopaths would come in handy as he expanded his social circle in prison. I ordered the book for him through Amazon and sent him a letter discussing the content. He sent me his thoughts on the book in a letter this week.


I found it to be an interesting read due largely to the fact that I’m currently in prison and can relate to multiple events discussed.

I agree that the book is lacking an over-arching theme. It seems that he had a plan to write about how the 1%’ers (psychopaths) affect the rest of the population, but what the book turned out to be is a collection of case studies woven together by his research.

He spoke about discovering how many CEOs were psychos. I feel that what we ended up with is a story that follows the evolution of his thought process as he researched that subject. He bounces around…I struggled to understand the point as the book rolled on.

I was administered the PCL-R when I arrived at the USDB. I think I scored an 11 (I requested a copy of my treatment file – haven’t seen it yet; I’ll share when I get it). The USDB gives you psychopathy points if you score over 24. These points add together with other factors such as the length of your sentence, disciplinary issues, and if you are considered “high risk” (i.e. life sentence or predator) to determine your custody level. Psychopathy points almost guarantee an inmate MAX custody. That means 23 hour a day lockdown.

According to the case workers here, psychopaths cannot participate in treatment because it will only make them better at what they do (i.e. imitate the emotions of non-psychos). Of course the treatment programs here aren’t certified by any accrediting body, so they are fairly worthless.

One last point: I think I agree that psychologists over-diagnose children and adults alike. More on that later.


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