The Argus: Brighton Festival ThumbTalking in support of his new book The Psychopath Test – which explores the madness industry and the titular test developed by Robert Hare – Jon Ronson seems an unlikely figure to tackle the dangers of psychotic behaviour.

Although admitting that during the writing process he became something of a fundamentalist psychopath spotter, his demeanour is that of a man plagued with anxiety. Offering up his own mental disorders for discussion – absent-mindedly tearing the labels from his beer bottle as he did – Ronson admits that sometimes it comforts us to see someone madder than we are.

Starting with the theory that an event about psychopaths was likely to attract psychopaths, Ronson led us through a history of psychopathy from early studies via frightening statistics – for example, one in every 100 people are psychopaths – to his own conclusions.

The following Q&A proved to be just as interesting – the range and thoughtfulness of the questions testing Ronson’s knowledge, opinion and moral code. Such was the topic’s depth that Ronson commented it was odd to not be asked about his other works – Them and The Men Who Stare At Goats – during the session.

However, for the casual passerby – lured in by the promise of a series of anecdotal observations about the adventures of the investigative journalist – some of the more complex psychological terms, theories and studies alluded to might have been a little too taxing for a Thursday night’s entertainment.

Overall, an insightful, humorous and potentially terrifying 90 minutes that, if nothing else, taught us to not always necessarily trust the hotel concierge.