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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

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (3018 )
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4.0 (1959 )
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4.1 (1961 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Scott Duclos, QC, Canada 04-25-11
    Scott Duclos, QC, Canada 04-25-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Fascinating"

    .....If somewhat disturbing look into the mind of the sociopath and how to deal with one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Turner Marietta, Georgia United States 04-24-11
    C. Turner Marietta, Georgia United States 04-24-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Very good 3 1/2"

    I enjoyed this book, it helped to present a few ideas of sociopathic behavior and what it's basic form is in normal society. Most of us have run across a person with sociopathic behaviors and felt confused or even violated at the aftermath of thier presence. What did we do to deserve such behavior and why are they doing these things. This gives a good account as to what to look for and why getting emotionally involved can leave your life turned upside down. This book is not about the well known sociopaths that are read about in the newspapers. It is about the everyday sociopath that has learned to live without detection or causing criminal behavior. I would have given it a 3 1/2 instead of a 4 but it is still worth listening to if you like nonfiction and are interested in psychological behaviors.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tripp Southern Southeastern USA 04-16-11
    Tripp Southern Southeastern USA 04-16-11 Member Since 2010

    I work from home and to prevent cabin fever I walk my dog for hours each day, listening to audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well written overview of a complex topic"

    This book, while a "high-level" view of the topic that does tend to over-generalize and over-emotionalize at times, is well written. The author is an well-respected therapist and her anecdotes should be viewed more as field notes from the front lines than as the end-all/be-all on the topic of sociopaths. Personally, I never felt the author was implying anything to the contrary.


    Enjoyable, informative and well written; I've listened to several chapters more than once, and I can't say that about many of my Audible purchases.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tara ARLINGTON, VA, United States 03-30-11
    Tara ARLINGTON, VA, United States 03-30-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Incredible"

    First, the writing was completely flawless. It was engaging, eloquent, and informative. The narratives kept the book engaging. The narrator was great. It's a must-listen. If Dr. Stout has other audiobooks I'll definitely be downloading them.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bobbie J. Robinson 03-05-11 Member Since 2007
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    "From Great to Preachy"

    The first 5 hours are great filled with lots of facts and great information from studies. The there is a switch where the author Martha Stout seems to add her own political beliefs about western society and all the stats and studies go out the window and it becomes almost a rant. I hate movies with political messesages as well.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Manchoon San Francisco, CA, USA 07-11-10
    Manchoon San Francisco, CA, USA 07-11-10
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    "Not quite what I thought it would be"

    Lacking any form of emotion or enthusiasm for the material, the narrator made the audio book very hard to enjoy. It's ironically fitting considering the material, though at the end of day I think that a different narrator would have made a world of difference.

    This book is about the world of people who see other people as objects to be used or abused for their own needs.

    I see this book broken up into two major parts. The first part Martha Stout uses short stories based on real events and people to illustrate how sociopaths work in a society. For myself I found this part the most entertaining part, as it presented information in a way I could compare to my own experience. Having always been fascinated by human psychology, the first half was almost like a good documentary to me.

    The second part of the book becomes an information romp and goes into what the book actually claims, "how to identify a sociopath". It was here that I felt the book really let itself down, while the narrator seemed to actually get more enthusiasm this part lacked direction and seemed hesitant to be distinct in it's descriptions. It's broad stroke descriptions would either describe anyone or everyone in my opinion.

    Overall I can't say I say I recommend this book, for me I felt it failed to deliver on it's claims and the presentation of material was in many parts boring. While I did enjoy the first half I really couldn't recommend the book for only half it's content.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet 04-15-10
    Janet 04-15-10
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    "A Book I Didn't Want to Love"

    Sociopaths scare me. I've spent too much time around them. I didn't really want to read this book -- and the narrator took such a low-key tone of voice, I was afraid it would put me to sleep.

    On the contrarty -- tone, information, incidents to illustrate the author's point all kept me spell-bound.

    I found this to be an exceptionally informative and helpful book -- if not a hopeful one. I guess my only hope is to spot them more accurately and run away.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter 06-23-08
    Walter 06-23-08
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    "Not Much Hard Science"

    The book is anecdotal and shallow. Not as if it were written by a scientist for the lay reader. More like a reporter writing a blurb. Made up people with fictional stories for example? I read fiction for fiction, not science books.

    10 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela 03-08-12
    Pamela 03-08-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Shallow And Boring"
    What disappointed you about The Sociopath Next Door?

    I anticipated a demonstration of great depth. What she delivered was a seemingly endless string of superficial examples. It was as if she had not received training in this area. There are many excellent books on this subject.


    What could Martha Stout have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    See above entry.


    What didn’t you like about Shelly Frasier’s performance?

    I found her voice irritating.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I felt anxious due to waiting for delving into the subject. Then I felt disappointed and thought she was inept.


    Any additional comments?

    This was a waste of my time.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reserved Powers Michigan, United States 03-31-11
    Reserved Powers Michigan, United States 03-31-11

    Mom, birdwatcher, and online teacher

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    "Worth listening to, but nothing spectacular"

    This was a fairly interesting book, with some good insights. It seems like the real-life examples could have been better. The author at the beginning states that the examples are "composites" and not actual persons. This takes away from the authenticity and seems like an unnecessary precaution.

    The author is so biased against Christianity and the West that it is almost laughable. For example, she laments the fact that a certain socipath may not have killed frogs if he were raised as a Buddhist. However, she blames the Romanian orphan crisis on an abortion prohibition. So apparently she can see the conscience issues in killing frogs, but not unborn children. She brings up modern pop-culture Eastern philosophers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, when discussing conscience, but completely ignores Western giants on conscience such as St. Augustine and Sophocles. Her writing would be more authentic if this bias were at least acknowledged. If the reader goes into this book realizing that they are only getting about half the story on conscience at best, then something could be gained.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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