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The Sociopath Next Door | [Martha Stout]

The Sociopath Next Door

We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people, one in 25, has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in 25 everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath.
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Publisher's Summary

We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people, one in 25, has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in 25 everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.

How do we recognize the remorseless? One of their chief characteristics is a kind of glow or charisma that makes sociopaths more charming or interesting than the other people around them. They're more spontaneous, more intense, more complex, or even sexier than everyone else, making them tricky to identify and leaving us easily seduced. Fundamentally, sociopaths are different because they cannot love. Sociopaths learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath they are indifferent to others' suffering. They live to dominate and thrill to win.

The fact is, we all almost certainly know at least one or more sociopaths already. Part of the urgency in reading The Sociopath Next Door is the moment when we suddenly recognize that someone we know, someone we worked for, or were involved with, or voted for, is a sociopath. But what do we do with that knowledge? To arm us against the sociopath, Dr. Stout teaches us to question authority, suspect flattery, and beware the pity play. Above all, she writes, when a sociopath is beckoning, do not join the game.

It is the ruthless versus the rest of us, and The Sociopath Next Door will show you how to recognize and defeat the devil you know.

©2005 Martha Stout; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Stout is a good writer and her exploration of sociopaths can be arresting." (Publishers Weekly)
"A remarkable philosophical examination of the phenomenon of sociopathy and its everyday manifestations....Stout's portraits make a striking impact and readers with unpleasant neighbors or colleagues may find themselves paying close attention to her sociopathic-behavior checklist and suggested coping strategies. Deeply thought-provoking and unexpectedly lyrical." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 11-18-13
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 11-18-13 Member Since 2005

    I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting Peek into the Psyche of Your Neighbor?"

    I decided to listen to this book because recently I was introduced to an individual who seemed to be unable to express even a speck of empathy or compassion for her sick child. I was perplexed by this person and wondered if I was in the presence of a sociopath. In listening to this book Ms. Stout asserts that indeed I was right, this person fits the bill.
    I found this book to be mostly interesting, and a bit more than discouraging to learn that according to this author, one in twenty four people in our culture are sociopaths.
    Ms. Stout makes it fairly easy to determine who fits this profile and why.
    The reader/listener learns that it is not only the murders and child rapists who are sociopaths but yes it's also our neighbors and co-workers, people leading "normal" lives.
    This book may be very helpful for those of us who work with others, helping us to remember things are not always as they appear.
    Ms. Stout does meander quite a bit in this book. I think it would have been a much better book if she edited out several chapters of "fluff" and stayed on topic more.
    Overall I'm glad I listened. .

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C.B.E. Colorado, United States Minor Outlying Islands 11-06-11
    C.B.E. Colorado, United States Minor Outlying Islands 11-06-11 Member Since 2010

    Claywise

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    "Pretty subjective"

    Stout presents virtually nothing in the way of research to back up her broad assertions regarding the behavior and characteristics of sociopaths. One example of her egregious assumptions: all of the 9/11 terrorists were sociopaths, ipso facto. Her use of "composite" characters to tell what are admittedly fascinating and dramatic stories is no better, in the end, than fiction. I have a sneaking suspicion that Stout was in a close relationship with someone she believes to be a sociopath, and this book is in reaction to that. In many ways, the book is paranoid and irresponsible.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lillian 09-21-11
    Lillian 09-21-11
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    "Well told"

    This book will make you start to reconsider some of the more challenging people in your life!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah A. Nye Scottsdale, AZ 03-14-12
    Deborah A. Nye Scottsdale, AZ 03-14-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Pop psychology at its worst"
    What disappointed you about The Sociopath Next Door?

    This book can be summarized in a sentence: Sociopaths have no conscience and you should avoid them like the plague, and by the way, it is nice to have a conscience. Someone must have suggested to the author that she write a book about this subject and she scrounged to get enough material to put in the book. The book is poorly organized and repetitive without much substantive. While I don't argue with her main thesis (see summary sentence above), I found it alarming how she blithely labeled certain historical figures as sociopaths merely because of the horrid historical acts for which they are known by our culture. These conclusions are largely drawn from a western and specifically United States point of view. I also found her periodic interweaving of religious concepts to be disconcerting, and off topic. I do not recommend this book. BTW, the narrator did a nice job and has a pleasant voice.


    Which character ??? as performed by Shelly Frasier ??? was your favorite?

    Nonfiction. No character. Frasier did a nice job. Has a nice voice.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Sociopath Next Door?

    The author said all she had to say in the first chapter. Cut the rest and you have a nice pop psychology magazine article.


    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vincent Brown CANTON, GA United States 02-21-08
    Vincent Brown CANTON, GA United States 02-21-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Please Read"

    Having been married to a sociopath, this book has helped me a great deal. I had no idea this problem was so common.
    And since it is so common, everyone please read this bbok.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-17-05
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    "The path to enlightenment."

    Don?t expect uniformly good reviews, sociopaths won?t like this book. I loved it because I love enlightenment, when the puzzle fits together with an endorphin-like rush. Ready yourself for this exhilaration. The book is mainstream psychology, not paranoid delusions; trust me, I?m a doctor. We are all aware of prominent sociopaths, mass murderers including Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, McVeigh and Rudolph; some priests and most villains, but most sociopaths are likable and even popular. We see only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the heroes of our success-driven culture are sociopaths. They are a spectrum of people joined together only by their lack of conscience and their often hidden cruelty, an inability to emotionally connect with other people, their deceptiveness and ability to put on an act, and their desire for our sympathy when they get caught. Our pity is their ultimate escape mechanism. They are particularly successful in some fields such as military and corporate American combat, especially corporate administration. You may work for one of them. They aren?t everywhere and they aren?t obvious but they are most places if you know where to look. They are 1 in 25 people and most are on the loose. They often yearn for power and have no conscience to interfere with their achieving whatever goals they desire. They convince us they are compassionate. They are wolves in sheep?s clothing. They are the predators among us, and they are dangerous. We all know at least a few and you should have no difficulty recognizing the ones who have most impacted your life. They make us doubt ourselves while making others also doubt us as they continue to victimize us, the objects of their interests. They are Alpha-males and passive-aggressive females and they may have been our siblings. They often reach positions of power over other people and they love to manipulate their victims like a cat playing with a captured mouse. You are the mouse in this analogy.

    21 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronda 03-19-12
    Ronda 03-19-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Very Informative"

    Rivetting and informative book but with an excessive focus on evolutinary developments (which is not science but speculation). Previous reviewers thought the voice was difficult to listen to, but I didn't have a problem. At times she drones on about sociological developments which I found meaningless, but will listen a second time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    EDotGirl Ellicott City, MD 21043 08-26-11
    EDotGirl Ellicott City, MD 21043 08-26-11 Listener Since 2010
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    "Absolutely Fascinating"

    I bought this audio book today, finished it today, and was very, very disappointed that this was the only book out by Dr. Stout!

    She has amazing insight, not only as a Doctor, but as a human being, in general. Her stories were capitvating (especially the one of "Hannah") and I felt like I was listening to a novel - not because it was unbelievable or fantastical, but because she has this objective, yet vividly descriptive way of describing this disorder, and the people who are affected by it.

    If you are like 96% of the population, and not sociopathic, I recommend this book. If you have children (especially if they are about to go out into the big, "bad" world) I recommend this book. If you are just interested in learning more about your disorder, I recommend this book :)

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip Steamboat Springs, CO, United States 11-26-09
    Philip Steamboat Springs, CO, United States 11-26-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Exceptional...Must Read for Everyone!"

    This book is a must read for everyone. I wish I could have had this knowledge and input years ago, it would have saved me a tremendous amount of flesh. We do not realize how many people we encounter who could be true danger to our emotional well-being and leave us much less trusting. We normally associate a sociopath with violent offenders that appear on the news. In truth, very few sociopaths are violent and are our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. Everyone needs this knowledge. Everyone will encounter at least one in their lifetime and probably many more. Add this to your arsenal of defenses.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renate 05-21-09
    Renate 05-21-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Absolutely Fascinating!"

    Based on science, but told in an anecdotal style. I could hardly stop listening.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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