The Sociopath Next Door

Front Cover
Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale, Feb 8, 2005 - Psychology - 256 pages
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.

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User Review  - Vulco1 - LibraryThing

This book was great. It explained a lot about different kind of sociopaths and just how different even neurotypical people think from one another. A good read. Interesting vignettes and slices of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LisCarey - LibraryThing

The sociopaths who come to public attention are often violent criminals, but sociopaths are 4% of the population overall, and most of them aren't violent criminals. That doesn't mean that they're nice ... Read full review

All 11 reviews »


The Seventh Sense
Ice People The Sociopaths
When Normal Conscience Sleeps
The Nicest Person in the World
Why Conscience Is Partially Blind
How to Recognize the Remorseless
The Etiology of Guiltlessness What Causes Sociopathy?
The Sociopath Next Door
The Origins of Conscience
Bernies Choice Why Conscience Is Better
Groundhog Day
Conscience in Its Purest Form Science Votes for Morality

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Page 10 - ... (2) deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure (3) impulsivity or failure to plan ahead (4) irritability and aggressiveness...

About the author (2005)

Martha Stout, Ph.D. was trained at the famous McLean Psychiatric Hospital and is a practicing psychologist and a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She is also the author of The Myth of Sanity. She lives on Cape Ann in Massachusetts.

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