Rated of 5
by Douglas P. McManaman
Martha Stout's book The Sociopath Next Door is a good book from a number of angles. The examples and stories she provides in the book are illuminating, and she understands well the characteristic features of the sociopathic personality. Unfortunately, she entertains questions that are specifically philosophical, i.e., the nature of conscience and the causes of sociopathy, and it is clear that she is not a trained philosopher. She seems to give evidence of a reductionist or determinist habitus, and the quality of the discussion in these areas drops considerably. She would be wise to consider the insights of forensic psychologist Dr. Stanton Samenow, in particular the primacy of thinking over feeling. In short, she confuses conscience with emotion--for as the word indicates, con 'science' is a kind of knowing, a judgment or act of the intellect. Human emotion is intimately tied up in thinking. Stout makes a mess of this and thus fails to fully appreciate self-determination, as is typical among psychologists today. Nonetheless, the book is worth reading, since most people are still woefully ignorant of the nature of evil.