The Sociopath Next Door

The Sociopath Next Door

by Martha Stout


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781606711316
Publisher: MJF Books
Publication date: 05/09/2012
Sales rank: 44,862
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

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.

Read an Excerpt


the seventh sense

Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell.
—G. K. Chesterton

This morning, Joe, a thirty-year-old attorney, is running five minutes late for an extremely important meeting that, with or without him, will start promptly at eight o'clock. He needs to keep up a good impression with the more senior members of his firm, which means just about everybody, and he would like to have the first word with these wealthy clients, whose concerns include Joe's budding specialty of estate planning. He has been preparing his agenda for days because he feels there is a lot at stake, and he very much wants to be in the conference room at the start of the meeting.

Unfortunately, the furnace in Joe's town house suddenly stopped making heat in the middle of the night. Freezing and pacing, afraid the pipes would burst, he had to wait for the emergency repairman from the fuel company before he could leave for work this morning. When the man showed up, Joe let him in and then, desperate to get to the meeting, abandoned him in the town house to fix the furnace, hoping the fellow would prove reasonably honest. At last, Joe was able to race to his Audi and set off for the office, but with only twenty-five minutes left to make a thirty-minute drive. He resolved to bend the rules a little and make up the time.

Now Joe is speeding along a familiar route to work, clenching his teeth and swearing under his breath at the slow drivers, at all the drivers really. He reinterprets a couple of red lights, passes a line of traffic by using the breakdownlane, and clings frantically to the hope that he can somehow make it to the office by 8:00. When he hits three green lights in a row, he thinks that he may just succeed. With his right hand, he reaches over to touch the overnight bag in the passenger's seat, to reassure himself that he remembered to bring it. In addition to everything else, he has to catch a 10:15 plane to New York this morning, a trip for the firm, and there will certainly not be time after the meeting to go back home for his things. His hand contacts the cushiony leather of the bag—it is there and packed.

And at this very moment, Joe remembers. He forgot to feed Reebok. Reebok is Joe's three-year-old blond Labrador retriever, so named because, before he got too busy at the firm, Joe used to take early-morning runs with his enthusiastic new pet. When work took over and the morning routine changed, Joe fenced in the small backyard and installed a doggy door in the basement, allowing the dog solo access to the outside. At this point, runs together in the park are weekends only. But exercise or not, Reebok consumes several pounds of Science Diet every week, along with a huge assortment of leftover human food and at least one full box of jumbo bone treats. The young dog's appetite is stupendous, and he seems to live quite happily for two pleasures alone—his time with Joe, and his food.

Joe got Reebok as a puppy, because when Joe was a boy, his father would not let him have a pet, and he had vowed to himself that when he was grown up and successful, he would have a dog, a big one. At first, Reebok had been not very different from the Audi, another acquisition, a marker of Joe's independence and material prosperity. But soon Joe had fallen in love with the animal himself. How could he not? Reebok adored Joe unconditionally, and from puppyhood had followed him around the house as if Joe were the center of all that was good in the universe. As his puppy grew to doghood, Joe realized that this creature had as distinct and individual a personality as any human being, and that his liquid brown eyes contained at least as much soul. Now, whenever Joe looks into those eyes, Reebok wrinkles his soft beige brow into several folded-carpet furrows and stares back. In this way, the sweet, ungainly dog appears preternaturally thoughtful, as if he can read Joe's mind and is concerned.

Sometimes when there is a business trip, like today, Joe is gone from home for a day and a half, or even a little longer, and each time he comes back, Reebok greets him at the door with bounding joy and instantaneous forgiveness. Before he takes one of these trips, Joe always leaves large mixing bowls full of food and water for Reebok to consume in his absence, which Reebok does easily. But this time, between the furnace problem and his panic about the 8:00 meeting, Joe forgot. The dog has no food and maybe even no water, and no way to get any until tomorrow evening, when Joe returns from his trip.

Maybe I can call someone to help out, Joe thinks desperately. But no. He is between girlfriends at present, and so no one has a key to his house.

The impossibility of his situation begins to dawn on him, and he grips the steering wheel even harder. He absolutely must make this meeting, and he can be there on time if he just keeps going. But what about Reebok? He will not starve to death in a day and a half, Joe knows, but he will be miserable—and the water—how long does it take an animal to die of dehydration? Joe has no idea. Still driving as fast as the traffic will bear, he tries to think about his options. The available choices tumble over one another in a rush. He can attend the 8:00 meeting and then go home and feed the dog, but that will make him miss his 10:15 flight, and the trip is even more important than the meeting. He can go to the meeting and leave in the middle. No, that would be seen as offensive. He can try to get a later flight, but then he will be very late for his appointment in New York, may even miss it entirely, which could cost him his job. He can ignore the dog until tomorrow. He can turn around now, miss the 8:00 meeting at the firm, take care of the dog, and still make it to the airport for his 10:15 flight.

Like a man in pain, Joe moans loudly and slumps in his seat. Just a few blocks from work, he pulls the car into a spot marked construction only, dials the office on his cell phone, and tells a secretary to inform those at the morning meeting that he will not be attending. He turns the car around and goes home to feed Reebok.

What Is Conscience?

Amazingly, from a certain point of view, the human being we are calling Joe decides to be absent from an important meeting with some wealthy clients, an event he has spent several days planning for, and where his personal interests quite clearly reside. At first, he does everything he can to get to the meeting on time, risking all the possessions in his town house to a repairman he has never met before, and his own physical safety in his car. And then, at the very last minute, he turns around and goes home to feed a dog, a guileless, wordless creature who could not even so much as reprove Joe for ignoring him. Joe sacrifices a high-stakes desire of his own in favor of an action that no one will witness (except maybe the repairman), a choice that will not enrich him by even one penny. What could possibly cause a young, ambitious lawyer to do such a thing?

Most readers will smile a little when Joe turns his car around. We feel pleased with him for going back to feed his dog. But why are we pleased? Is Joe acting out of conscience? Is this what we mean when we make an approving remark about someone's behavior, such as "His conscience stopped him"?

What is this invisible, inescapable, frustratingly incorruptible part of us we call "conscience," anyway?

The question is a complicated one, even as it pertains to the simple vignette about Joe and Reebok, because, surprisingly, there are a number of motivations other than conscience that, separately or together, might cause Joe—might cause any of us—to make an apparently self-sacrificing choice. For example, perhaps Joe simply cannot stomach the thought of returning from his New York trip to find a Labrador retriever dehydrated and dead on his kitchen floor. Not knowing how long a dog can survive without water, he is unwilling to take the risk, but his aversion to the horrifying scenario is not exactly conscience. It is something more like revulsion or fear.

Or maybe Joe is motivated by what the neighbors will think if they hear Reebok howling in hunger, or, worse, if they learn the dog has died, alone and trapped, while Joe was on a business trip. How will he ever explain himself to his friends and acquaintances? This worry is not really Joe's conscience, either, but rather his anticipation of serious embarrassment and social rejection. If this is why Joe goes back home to feed his dog, he is hardly the first human being to make a decision based on the dread of what others will think of him, rather than on what he might do if he were sure his actions would remain a complete secret. The opinions of other people keep us all in line, arguably better than anything else.

Or maybe this is all a matter of the way Joe sees himself. Perhaps Joe does not want to view himself, in his own mind's eye, as the kind of wretch who would commit animal abuse, and his self-image as a decent person is crucial enough to him that, when he has no other alternative, he will forgo an important meeting in the service of preserving that image. This is an especially plausible explanation for Joe's behavior. The preservation of self-image is a motivator of some notoriety. In literature and often in historical accounts of human action, dedication to one's own self-regard is referred to as "honor." Lives have been forfeited, wars have been fought over "honor." It is an ancient concern. And in the modern field of psychology, how we view ourselves translates to the newer concept of "self-esteem," a subject about which more psychology books have been written than perhaps any other single topic.

Maybe Joe is willing to relinquish a few career points today in order to feel okay when he looks at himself in the mirror tomorrow, in order to remain "honorable" in his own eyes. This would be laudable and very human—but it is not conscience.

The intriguing truth of the matter is that much of what we do that looks like conscience is motivated by some other thing altogether—fear, social pressure, pride, even simple habit. And where Joe is concerned, a number of readers will strongly favor an explanation other than conscience because some of his behaviors are already questionable. He routinely leaves his young dog alone for many hours at a time, sometimes for nearly two days. This very morning, though he is skipping his meeting and going home to feed the dog, he still intends to make that 10:15 flight and be gone until the following evening. Reebok will have no one to be with, and nowhere to go except a small fenced-in backyard. Consigning a dog to such a situation is not very nice—it reflects, at best, a certain lack of empathy on Joe's part for the animal's social needs.

Still, truth to tell, being nice would not necessarily be conscience, either. For brief periods, any reasonably clever sociopath can act with saintlike niceness for his own manipulative purposes. And people who do possess conscience are often unkind despite themselves, out of ignorance or, as in Joe's case perhaps, inadequate empathy, or just run-of-the-mill psychological denial.

Nice behavior, prudent action, thoughts about how other people will react to us, honorable conduct in the interest of our self-regard—like conscience, all of these have a positive effect on the world at least most of the time, and any or all of them might get the dog fed sometimes, but none can be defined as the individual's conscience. This is because conscience is not a behavior at all, not something that we do or even something that we think or mull over. Conscience is something that we feel. In other words, conscience is neither behavioral nor cognitive. Conscience exists primarily in the realm of "affect," better known as emotion.

To clarify this distinction, let us take another look at Joe. He is not always nice to his dog, but does he have a conscience? What evidence would cause, say, a psychologist to decide that, when Joe passed up his meeting and went home to rescue Reebok, he was acting out of conscience rather than because of what other people would think, or to preserve his own self-image, or maybe from the noteworthy financial consideration that, three years before, he had paid twelve hundred dollars for a purebred Labrador puppy guaranteed against hip dysplasia and heart disease?

As a psychologist, I am persuaded most by a feature of the story we have not even addressed until now—the fact that Joe feels affection for Reebok. He is emotionally attached to his dog. Reebok follows Joe around the house, and Joe likes it. Joe gazes into Reebok's eyes. Reebok has changed Joe from a trophy pet owner to a smitten pet owner. And on account of this attachment, I believe that when Joe gave up his morning plan and went home to take care of his dog, he may possibly have been acting out of conscience. If we could give Joe a truth serum and ask him what was going on inside him at the moment he decided to turn the car around, and he were to say something like, "I just couldn't stand it that Reebok was going to be there hungry and thirsty all that time," then I would be reasonably convinced that Joe was conscience-driven in this situation.

I would be basing my evaluation of Joe on the psychology of conscience itself. Psychologically speaking, conscience is a sense of obligation ultimately based in an emotional attachment to another living creature (often but not always a human being), or to a group of human beings, or even in some cases to humanity as a whole. Conscience does not exist without an emotional bond to someone or something, and in this way conscience is closely allied with the spectrum of emotions we call "love." This alliance is what gives true conscience its resilience and its astonishing authority over those who have it, and probably also its confusing and frustrating quality.

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Sociopath Next Door 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 221 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book is wonderful. Of course the intent is not to get people out there labeling, slandering, and harrassing people they think are sociopaths. That would be sociopathic, wouldn't it?! This book is not a sword, its' a shield! The idea is to understand what it means when someone behaves this way, and know that it's not you, you can't change it, you can't cure them, and what you see may not even be real. And that the only solution in dealing with someone who is seriously wronging you in the ways described, is to remove yourself from them, stay away from them, to preserve yourself. And that there's absolutely nothing wrong or selfish about keeping yourself safe. (Which is something many a sociopath will try to convince you of.) As far as the inclusion of political figure reference. I have NO clue whether she was referring to Bush or Clinton or neither. But the fact is, both have been accused of lying, and that is a hallmark of a sociopath. Does that mean everyone who lies is a sociopath? Of course not. Are Bush or Clinton sociopaths? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. It's impossible to know the full social workings of a celebrity, because of the very nature of celebrity. (Personally I think they're both immoral baffoons, but that's neither here nor there for the topic.) I think it's like others have said, that the author was merely pointing out behaviours which can be signs of trouble. And how they can present themselves in all walks of life, at all levels. Again this book is not meant as a psychology text book or a diagnostic tool. It is good for one thing, and one thing only - understanding the nature of why some people might operate the way they do, and to pull the scales from the eyes of those of us who previously didn't know that sociopaths do not change, that their behaviour is inherent, and it's not our fault, and not our responsibility, and beyond our control. Thereby freeing us. I can say that I felt a great relief after reading this book. Not because disillusionment is pleasant. But because enlightenment is calming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I used this book as part of my research for a graduate school term-paper. Most of the information was useful and pretty accuarate, however, for the level of work that I needed to do, Dr. Stout's information conflicted a little bit with my other research. The terms "sociopath" and "psychopath" are used interchangably by most of the general public, and although they are similar, there are still some significant differences. The main one being that psychopaths primarily do not have a conscience, and sociopaths do have a conscience, but play by their own set of rules to justify their deceit and manipulation, as with the majority of the criminal element. And, unlike what most people believe, most psychopaths are not outwardly violent or crazy, and they are not all serial killers or in prisons. They also live out in the world with us. The traits that Dr. Stout uses to describe sociopaths are very helpful to keep in mind, and I appreciated her advice on what those of us with a conscience can do to protect ourselves. That is pretty much all we can do, because they will not stop. They will move from person to person until they use us up and wear us out. I speak from experience. I was married to this type of person for 10 years, not understanding why my life was so in chaos. This book helped me to comprehend how and why I was gaslighted. This is a term used in the book to explain how a person without a conscience uses deceit, manipulation, sympathy and guilt to distort your sense of reality, to where you no longer know what is true and not true. It's been a tough road to get my life back on track, but now that things are going much better for me, I realize that nearly all of the bad things that happened to me had little to do with me, and more to do with the things that he did. I made bad choices based on wrong information, lies, broken promises and the guilt he used by telling me that I was not a good wife for not helping (enabling) him. I was abused emotionally, psychologically, verbally, physically and financially. It did not start out this way, but happened very slowly and methodically by him over a long period of time. He was similar to the husband described in the book, the one who did not desire to work and made little efforts on his own, preferring to live off the sweat and hard work put forth by others. I would recommend following the advice Dr. Stout offers throughout the book. You do not know how deeply you are sucked in until you are all the way in, and then have to dig yourself back out. Protect your children, especially your daughters, from people like this, particularly men that they would potentially date or marry. Do not be afraid to speak up if something does not feel right. Actions speak louder than words. Learn to look at people's actions and see if their words match. The superficial charm and flattery that sociopaths and psychopaths use can cloud your judgement. I am thankful for everything I learned by my experiences. Once you go through something so bad, you recognize when you find what is good, and appreciate it so much more. We all have only one life. Make sure that it is the best that you can make it. This book will teach you how to do that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a highly readable study of a difficult subject-people without consciences-but in the end I was put off by its marshmallow spiritualism. Simply put, what does Buddhism and the Dalai Lama (however admirable) have to do with such an extreme condition as psychopathy? I felt a little as if I was standing in the Born-Again choir watching damned souls writhe in Hell. Dr. Stout's advice-Stay away from those in such straits. Well, yeah. More troublesome was the post-mortem and from-a-distance typecasting of everyone from Genghiz Khan to Charlie Manson as pure psychopaths. The concept that, while nature may make some people hard, environment may make normal people just as bad, seems lost on the author. There are conditions in life, including narcissitic personality, the affective disorders, plus plain old self-centeredness, that create effects quite similar to psychopathy. This, along with the possibility that a weak conscience under extreme conditions might lead to no conscience, (sociopathy), is not explored. Overall, a disappointment. Read Dr. Hare's WITHOUT CONSCIENCE for more concrete insights into the subject. The ultimate fictional account of the condition, one of the scariest books ever written, is William March's BAD SEED. Go to your library for this one-it's out of print- or see the great movie with Pattie McCormick.
Epicurean.Art.Lover More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by one of my friends. I am extremely impressed with the knowledge and wisdom of Marth Stout. A very easy read, well written and an amazing book written sucinctly about the Sociopaths. Hats off to Lady Doctor Marth Stout! I wish I could meet this amazing and incredibly smart, talented and gifted author in person. A must read for all Psychology majors and Criminal Justice majors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent read for someone looking for a light, quick understanding of sociopaths. They are not all criminals, and specially not scary looking. Now I know to follow my instincts. I recently dealt with such a person, for a short time thank God, however it did leave me feeling very disappointed and pretty 'mad at the world'. I can only image what years of such a companionship must do to someone. The book offers 13 ways to deal with a sociopath, the number one gets you to win half of the battle. Good stuff to know.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book fascinating although it took me a while to get into it. This book is easily read and written for the average person. I recommend it and would make my friends and family aware. You never know when someone sociopathic will cross your path and you need to know how to defend yourself. My reason for reading it was purely self defense, but after I got halfway through, I found out I had dated at least one sociopath. Also my good friend recently ended a 7 year relationship with someone we can now see was a serious sociopath. He used all the tricks on her, extreme flattery, compulsive liar, unfaithful, history of sexual harrassment, really didn't bond with his children, took advantage of everyone, from family to business associates, yet sought pity from everyone, and had no friends. That relationship drained and devasted her and left her wondering how she could have been so blind. But all along she kept ignoring her instincts and giving him the benefit of doubt, the benefit of conscience. I am sending this book to her in the hopes she can see that it wasn't her 'fault', and no, she is not dumb by any means. She just trusted someone who didn't deserve it and who was a master manipulator.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plainly stated and argued gracefully, the sociopath does not possess an aspect which most people have that make us legitimately human, and that is an actualized conscience - a voice, a feeling that guides us to do the right action, and not hurt our fellow human beings.  The single argument in this highly accessible thesis, the one that is down-right astonishing, (though not so after reading the reasons why) is that most of us "instinctively" know when there is a sociopath in our midst, but more often refuse to intellectually or rationally call them for what they are...why? The reason is that we would prefer to believe that the human being is fundamentally good, and pure evil is something rare or something beyond our day to day reality. On the contrary, there are people who move through their lives without a hint of guilt for their acts of harm.  Oddly these are some of the most engaging people we will ever meet. Sociopaths, Stout tells us, are as ordinary as a virus. An intimate association with a sociopath carries its own warranty of being a party to a train wreck. Sociopaths can feign every kind of emotion; yet they know but feral pleasures. Sociopaths find rewards in the hunt. Their joys are in conquest and winning. They understand love, but can't feel it. Hence, sociopaths are condemned like the Flying Dutchman of legend to cruise the shoals of real emotion as distant observers, never finding the safe harbor of family, lasting friendship, or love. Stout's work is especially useful for victims.  The Sociopath Next Door is a text for just about anyone interested in how evil, real evil operates and how to deal with them. Well written, highly recommend.     
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book wasn't written to cover all of the details of psychopathy - it was written to jolt the average reader into an awareness of their environment. In this respect it deserves 5 stars... if you are coming to this subject fresh it's going to be a shocker and it should be. Dr. Stout provides us with the awareness we need to recognize the sociopaths in our lives, and for that the book belongs in every home. (Politics? Really? I missed that. Of course, I thought she was talking about Clinton, not Bush. Ha!) One reviewer mentioned a disappointment with diagnosing political figures. I couldn't agree more. You can't - and should never - diagnose from a distance. But my impression was that she was giving examples of behavior that appears sociopathic so that the lay person recognizes it easier. I may be wrong. In any case, our understanding of these people is poor, and just beginning, Hopefully this work will spur some interest by the public. One of the strongest points of this book is that it looks at the average sociopath, and doesn't focus just on the serially violent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having had first-hand experience over a long period of time with a sociopath, this book really hit home with me. It's absolutely essential that EVERYONE know how to spot one and this book is a great starting point to help you along with that knowledge. Read this book and while you're at it, recommend it to everyone you know.
BookAddictFL More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I thought it was well-written, in simple language that anyone can understand. I liked the way the author wove her personal experiences into the factual information. I found the information both interesting and entertaining. Martha Stout gives us great insight into human nature.
Jenna Slade More than 1 year ago
Wow what an informative book, even if you have no psychology background .
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am fascinated by this book and plan to read it again soon. If you work or deal with difficult people who seem to find enjoyment in sabotaging your work and relationships then you will want to read this book immediately. The book is well written and the case studies are both interesting and, at times, chilling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not all sociopaths are alike. Just because someone lacks empathy and remorse does not mean that they do not act by some kind of moral code .  I do not have natural empathy. My mother was a bit of a flower child so I was raised in a home that valued empathy (although, my parents were divorced, and when with my father, things were different, to say the least).  The author paints us all with a very broad brush, and in the years since I've read it, I've grown to dislike it even more.  Some of us try. Just because I don't feel what you feel as a natural response does not mean I want to hurt you. It makes it easy for me to hurt you, but I'm not trying. In fact, I waste a ton of precious energy on trying to fit in and being friendly. It is very awkward.  And remember, none of us asked for this... Condition? Gift? Curse? I don't know. But when you're on a road trip with me, and you're driving and you hit a baby deer and the two halves of its body go flying in different directions and its guts get all over the grill, I will be there, in perfect mental faculty to not only drive your car to wherever we were going, but I'll even hose down the bits of intestine and fur from your car, my poor, sweet, sensitive, empathic friend.  We are not all terrible. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a way to open your eyes to another world that most people do not understand. I am a Master's student of Psychology and Antisocial Personality Disorder is a complicated world. This book puts it into a perspective that is easy for everyone to understand. My sister is a sociopath, and in order to protect myself from her, I needed to dislodge her from my life. I am able to connect to this book in more ways than one and am constantly recommending it as well as lending it out to people. Definite read!!
PatsyAnn More than 1 year ago
The information in this book is something I feel everyone should know about. I felt that it was not an easy read and a bit confusing at times. The book contains useful information about recognizing the sociopath in everyday society not just the serial killers on the news. You'll be shocked to find out that your idea of a sociopath might not be accurate. And even more shocked to find out that you actually have worked, lived with, or are related to a sociopath.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't recommend this book highly enough. I am a psychologist and it has been tremendously helpful in my professional like, as well as in my personal life. I have recommended it to several friends and patients. Easy to read and will really help you to understand those who you previously couldn't. It is very difficult for those of us who are not sociopathic to fully grasp and conceptualize the mind of a sociopath. This book will provide clarity, guidance, and healing. A MUST READ!!!
dkelly More than 1 year ago
I was blown away before the end of the first chapter and wound up reading the entire book in one sitting! Stout will scare you with her insight and knowledge on this subject... be prepared to see the world in a whole new light!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book for all to read. Informative and applicable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At once profound and down to earth, Martha Stout, clinical psychologist--specializing in victims of sociopaths--takes us through true-to-life case studies all the while interpreting the thoughts and emotions of the sociopathic personality as well as those of his or her victims. Sociopaths are often charismatic, beguiling, smart, and attractive, which just feeds into their need for control. Stout does all this in very readable style. In both plain and technical terms, she analyzes just what it means to live without a conscience--with no concern for others. Of greater importance, Stout illustrates superbly just how disrupive such lives can be to both the sociopath and the rest of us. One in 25 of us lives next door to one if not with one. They look just like us. Their behavior in public normally does not give them away. Nevertheless, Stout illustrates how to recognize and deal with these amoral creatures. She offers hope for the future from logic based on 25 years of clinical experience, not wishful thinking. The antisocial fringe will laugh at her book. The rest of us should read it carefully and absorb its lessons. They bear critically on our times, for history mainly recounts the misdeeds and too few deeds of this personality type when it holds the reins of power.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr Stout's compelling account of people bereft of genuine emotion and conscience is as important as it is beautifully written. The Sociopath Next Door is a gripping read about those who have are unable to know real remorse or love. Sociopaths are dangerous by definition. They live to control, manipulate, and win. Yet, strangely, they are some of the most interesting and attractive people we will ever meet. Sociopaths are gracious, charming, attractive, and a menace to all who come close. Stout calls them 'Ice People.' It's not that they are killers, or criminals, though some clearly are. Most are people we meet in everyday life: lovers, relatives, fellow workers, even parents. Sociopaths are incapable of remorse. Stout's advise is to stay away, wholly, completely. There is no winning and no compromise with a sociopath. The only safety is distance. Interwoven in these amazing narratives-composites taken from a long clinical practice and many years of luminous academic experience- is one of the best discussions of the nature of conscience to be found in contemporary letters. Stout's book has been as controversial as it has been successful. Perhaps it is her literary, philosophical or scientific and sociological range that confounds some. Or, maybe it is her hauntingly lyric language that puzzles others. For victims of sociopaths--and eventually, nearly all of us have had [or will have] encounters with people who turned out to be harmful, and were deliberately so--- this is an important book. Indeed, it is mandatory reading. By dent of the sheer prevalence of sociopathy [one in twenty five, at least¿male and female alike], we are bound to encounter sociopaths. Their only purpose is to use us and make us less. As sharks have to swim and feed, sociopaths can do no other than bring us low when it serves their interests. This book is an amazingly useful admonition. No book will ever serve you better or remain longer in the mind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book after a year and a half recovery from a relationship with someone who I now believe to be a sociopath.  For those who doubt the book's, or subjects veracity I would say you've never been involved on a personal level with someone who has this disorder.  These are extremely dangerous people who appear to be genuine, caring human beings but really are missing empathy and the ability to attach themselves to others emotionally.  I personally suffered a nervous breakdown along with PTSD and severe depression from being in love with someone who had turned out to have almost every symptom of antisocial personality disorder.  I've read some book reviews that poke at some of the context of the book and its chapters on spirituality and so forth, but the ability to love and empathize is connected to the soul and these people were either not born with one or lost theirs along the way.  Also I've seen some remarks about the author stirring up paranoia over the subject, but again the subject and the people who possess this disorder are VERY real.  Life is a game control, manipulation, lying, and ultimately winning whatever they are after, whatever the cost, without regard for the damage and devastation they cause to other people.  If you've never had an up close and personal situation with a sociopath, consider yourself lucky and try and absorb the information in the book regardless, along with the other reading material mentioned by other reviewers.  It may seem far-fetched to you now, but if you ever become involved with one of the monsters in some way in the future may the material with help you pay a little more attention to the red-flags in you sub-conscience and act accordingly. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Our daughter's counselor correctly identified our son-in-law as a Narcissistic Sociopath. This book was good for providing insights on the behavior patterns of sociopaths. I like the stories about different types of sociopaths. We were able to identify at least 5 out of 7 of the traits in him. It helps while working on getting her out of the abusive situation and on with her life. The statistics on how many in our society are sociopaths is startling. If you suspect someone (boss, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, suitor, etc.) then read this book. Best advice: if they are, get away from them fast!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stout's book is written with astonishing clarity and great narrative strength. The book, in hard cover for over year, was a huge seller. And rightly so. No 'self help book' was ever so so compelling or useful to explain the inevitable confrontation we all have--or will-- with evil in some form or another. The Sociopath Next Door has a scary cover. But its purpose is not frighten us rather, it is crafted to cope by naming what otherwise might seem all but unfathomable. A winner of this year's 'Books for a Better Life' competition. The hard back became an instant classic, and will be rightly seen as necessary reading as long as there is otherwise inexplicable evil. An elegant book, filled with timeless truth and helpful guides to the mystery victims always ask: 'why did they do?' Stout's answer, is cold comfort and a hard, but essential truth: 'because they could.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be fairly redundant and felt she repeated herself constantly througout the book. Although some of the information was interesting I just felt like the book dragged considerably. Considering how interesting the subject of sociopathy is, she made is sound insanely boring. And although I didn't enjoy the book, I highly disagree that it has any political propaganda. She never mentions President Bush by name and I never once got the impression that she was even alluding to him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read this book and many others on the same subject. this one rated nothing compared to Without Conscience by Robert Hare