The Sociopath Next Door

Front Cover
Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony, Feb 8, 2005 - Psychology - 256 pages
55 Reviews
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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Daniel.Estes - LibraryThing

Inadvertently, this book is muddling my lifelong appreciation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. After all, Scrooge needs to have a conscious for the story to work at all, let alone be as powerful ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Cariola - LibraryThing

Stout's brief book is designed to help laypersons identify the sociopathic persons around them. Often charming and charismatic, the sociopath plays on the emotions of others while he himself is devoid ... Read full review

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Contents

Imagine
5
The Seventh Sense
23
Ice People The Sociopaths
40
When Normal Conscience Sleeps
56
The Nicest Person in the World
74
Why Conscience Is Partially Blind
90
How to Recognize the Remorseless
107
The Etiology of Guiltlessness What Causes Sociopathy?
124
The Sociopath Next Door
144
The Origins of Conscience
168
Bernies Choice Why Conscience Is Better
185
Groundhog Day
201
Conscience in Its Purest Form Science Votes for Morality
213
Notes
223
Index
237
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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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