Comment: At some point or another, many people, or at least many women, have taken some sort of self-defense classes; but physical self defense is such a small part of the
protective skills that most of us need to learn. Arguably of more
importance is to learn how to recognize and protect ourselves against
people who might not necessarily cause us physical harm, but can devastate
us mentally and emotionally.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, about one in every 25 Americans has 'antisocial personality disorder', which in layman's terms means that they simply don't have a conscience - they're sociopaths. Sociopaths tend to be superficially charming, often larger than life and usually clever - but they live only to dominate and win, and feel no guilt in doing so because they're incapable of feeling guilt. The higher you look up the ladders of influence the more sociopaths you'll find, because they enjoy power over others and therefore tend to seek out jobs where they have such an influence. The sarcastic teacher who subtly destroys your confidence, the boss who humiliates you in meetings, the co-worker who undermines you behind your back, or the abusive husband - if you know such a person there's a good chance you know a sociopath.
The Sociopath Next Door will teach you how to recognize a potential sociopath, to understand what motivates him/her and therefore how to cope effectively with such a person.
At the risk of sounding paranoid, I hope that this book gets the very wide audience it deserves, because what it has to say is of relevance to virtually all of us as individuals, and takes on even great significance when one adds in the fact that (according to well-documented and much repeated research, first performed by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s) about two-thirds of the general population will follow the orders of somebody in authority, even if it is to inflict significant harm on others. You only have to look at the harm inflicted by the followers of such renowned sociopaths as Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot to see where that can lead.
This review is from the March 20, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.
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