The Sociopath Next Doorby Published 14 Mar 2006
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Who is the devil you know?
Is it your lying, cheating ex-husband?
Your sadistic high school gym teacher?
Your boss who loves to humiliate people in meetings?
The colleague who stole your idea and passed it off as her own?
In the pages of The Sociopath Next Door, you will realize that your ex was not just misunderstood. He’s a sociopath. And your boss, teacher, and colleague? They may be sociopaths too.
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 twenty-five—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 twenty-five 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.
The Sociopath Next Door Reviews
The author asks “Why have a conscience?” She argues that being truly human entails having one, and warns the majority of us about the four percent of people who are sociopaths. This is a chilling book. I have met people who fit her description. One need not be a serial killer to be a sociopath. One needs only to be immune to caring about the humanity of others.
It chafes to be so free of the ridiculous inner voice that inhibits others from achieving great power, without having enough talent to pursue the ultimate successes yourself. Sometimes you fall into sulky, rageful moods caused by frustration that no one but you understands.
But you do jobs that afford you a certain undersupervised control over a few individuals or small groups, preferably people and groups who are relatively helpless or in some way vulnerable. You are a teacher or a psychotherapist, a divorce lawyer or a high school coach. Or maybe you are a consultant of some kind, a broker or a gallery owner or a human services director…Whatever your job, you manipulate and bully the people who are under your thumb, as often and as outrageously as you can without getting fired or held accountable. You do this for its own sake, even when it serves no purpose except to give you a thrill. Making people jump means you have power—or this is the way you see it—and bullying provides you with an adrenaline rush. It is fun…Maybe you cannot be a CEO of a multinational corporation, but you can frighten a few people, or cause them to scurry around like chickens, or steal from them, or—maybe best of all—create situations that cause them to feel bad about themselves. And this is power, especially when the people you manipulate are superior to you in some way. Most invigorating of all is to bring down people who are smarter or more accomplished than you, or perhaps classier, more attractive or popular or morally admirable. This is not only good fun; it is existential vengeance. And without a conscience it is amazingly easy to do.
If given the opportunity to read a text about sociopathy and its prevalence, don't bother reading Stout's work. Instead, read "Without Conscience" by the psychologist Hare. Hare's work on sociopathy is notable in the field, and after reading it, you will be shocked to notice that entire sections of "The Sociopath Next Door" appear to be lifted from "Without Conscience," slightly reworded, and placed into the text. "The Sociopath Next Door" is still an interesting book, but it is at best a 'see spot run' version of Hare's only slightly longer book.
There's a whole lot of fear mongering going on here.
The Sociopath Next Door, I'd give it 2.5. I keep going back and forth between 2 and 3 stars. According to Martha Stout, just about everyone knows a few sociopaths.......DUH. I know two people for sure that I used to work with....they were chilling. I may even be related to one. But the author gets a little dramatic. Yes, these people are ruthless, they don't care about anyone's feelings (they really don't have many of their own). But if you keep your eye's open, hopefully you can spot them and avoid them. If you can't avoid them, then just don't get caught up in their games....because us folks with a conscience are just game pieces to them. But the author makes it sound as if we are all doomed and we must prepare ourselves for the Sociopath Apocalypse (a better title for this book).
I found a site that lists a Sociopath tendencies.....
symtoms of Sociopaths
Remind you of anyone? Sure does to me.....you betcha don't ya and also too.
Sociopaths suck. They are the mean people. But their existence must suck for them. So good, thanks Karma.
There were some good stories in this book and the descriptions of the sociopath were well done. As I was reading, I had a few moments of...."Oh, so that was the deal with THAT asshat!"
An entertaining and informative book, the thesis of which is that the conscienceless among us are not restricted to the serial killers, CEO's, lawyers and politicians among us, but may also be teachers, doctors, nurses, clergy--anyone who is impervious to the bond of love and cares about nothing but power and the ability to manipulate other people.
They are but 4% of the total population--1 in 25--and the principal comfort the rest of us can take is not only that we outnumber them but also that we are happier than they because their apparent freedom--which stems only from a lack of restraint--can end in nothing but boredom and bleakness, for they know nothing of community and love.
Somehow or other this review lost it's original story. I don't know how, so I'm putting it in. Not so much because it is a review of the book (it isn't) but because I never want to forget it, I want to set it down. Living next door to a sociopath is terrible, one of the worst things you an imagine. I want to remember it properly and this was the story.
The part of the review that remains is the end story that led up to the finale as it were, that I wrote at the time it was happening. So I've left it at the bottom.
I can't remember exactly what I wrote but essentially the neighbour had lived in the building when it was two apartments, the landlady had built two more upstairs and that pissed her off. She told the landlady the builder was stealing materials. The apartments are set in quite a lot of land and require a gardener, the neighbour wanted to arrange that and also the letting and collecting of rents as the landlady lives on another island. She wanted there to be a high turnover of tenants so she scratched cars, picked locks or otherwise got into apartments, disconnected the gas, drained the cisterns, complained about them etc. People left.
She pretended to be my friend for a year or so because her best friend was a very long-time good friend of mine. When I had to leave my apartment (because the landlord wanted to rebuild it), she found me this place. She told terrible lies about her life, maybe I was meant to know she was lying, maybe not. Because of that she popped my car tyres - three times in a week once, which led the tyre lady who fixes them to do it for free, interfered with the radiator and scratched the car. She did a lot of stuff in my place and around it. She killed my cat.
The mistakes she made were that the builder, who was my next door neighbour at the time, is a very decent person and he was building it up for free for the landlady because her husband had died and she needed security and the families were very close. So the builder couldn't steal what was his! The neighbour knew none of this.
The second mistake she made was that I lived next door to the builder for fifteen years so they knew me. They knew I wasn't a troublemaker.
The third mistake was that although the policeman who dealt with it, and who was a friend, couldn't devise a method to catch her. She disconnected the electricity when she bust into my house so the cameras didn't work. Although he couldn't do it, he did support me and on the day when he was away that her boyfriend threatened me and my son with the rock, and he phoned the police station to complain, he got an officer whose father and my grandmother were close friends. He said the right things...
And that was the end of that. Then the update.
Terrible story eh? Two and a half years of that. Oh and my close friend doesn't speak to me. She said that the (ex) neighbour wouldn't stand for her still being friends with me so... sorrry. There you go. Our kids grew up together.
Original review with a lot missing, hence the story above
I'm on page 50 of The Sociopath Next Door. Its like my mind goes blank faced with any kind of self-help book. Perhaps, even with my appalling criminal neighbour I'm beyond redemption. I cannot finish this book. Hell, I can hardly start it. Its sitting in my kitchen window so if the psychopathic neighbour decides to break in again she will see it :-)
I'm giving it another go.
I wrote this when it was happening
Update: My only way of annoying my neighbour (I'm neither a criminal nor a psychopath) was revving up my jeep outside her window for a minute or two and it drove her insane. :-) Eventually her boyfriend came out and threatened to throw a rock through the windscreen and when my son objected to his behaviour he picked up a bigger rock and told him he would fuck-him up if he went to the police. We had the police up within the hour. A stupid man he phoned the landlady to complain and she told him that since he didn't live there or pay rent there he had no right to complain. The landlady then phoned the neighbour who presumed I had complained, the boyfriend not having wanted to confess his ignominous dismissal by the landlady, and said it was all a lie, I had made it up. She also quite gratuiously told the landlady that the only reason she had taken my cat was that I put it in the back of her car and it woke up eight miles later and scratched hell out of the boyfriend so they threw it out of the car! (Anyone with a cat knows the cat would have scratched them to death by the bottom of the drive). The landlady said that it was the boyfriend, not me, who had phoned her and that she was a liar and gave her notice to leave.
That was back in November. She's still there. Hides her car and pulls her blinds down in case a lawyer comes to serve her papers. The landlady says she has a lawyer but since she lives on a different island she hardly ever comes over to see what is going on. I don't care, the neighbour is so frightened she hides behind her pulled-down blinds and restricts her mischief to keying mine and another neighbour's vehicles. I could live with it.
It took more than a year for the landlady and lawyers to get her out. Since then I've had nice neighbours.
Original review was written 28 April 2009, but most of the story was missing, so I rewrote it 5 August 2013