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The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless versus the Rest of Usby Martha Stout
Synopses & 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.
"The Sociopath Next Door is a chillingly accurate portrayal of evil — the decent person's guide to indecency." Jonathan Kellerman
"I recommend this book, especially to those who think they may be vulnerable to sociopaths. It contains good stories, useful advice and clinical and scientific nuggets." Washington Post
"One in 25 Americans is a sociopath — no conscience, no guilt. It could be your mean boss or your crazy ex. [The Sociopath Next Door] is an easy-to-follow guide for spotting them." Newsweek
"A fascinating, important book about what makes good people good and bad people bad, and how good people can protect themselves from those others." Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
"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 Reviews (starred review)
Not just confined to criminals, sociopath behavior affects one in 25 people, in which that person possesses no conscience. Harvard psychologist Stout explains how to recognize and deal with sociopaths who do not possess the ability to feel shame, guilt, or remorse.
About the Author
Martha Stout, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice, served on the faculty in psychology in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School for twenty-five years. She is also the author of The Myth of Sanity. She lives on Cape Ann in Massachusetts.
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