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The Sociopath Next Door

The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us

by Martha Stout

The Sociopath Next Door
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Feb 2005, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2006, 256 pages

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There are currently 42 reader reviews for The Sociopath Next Door
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A-LYN (05/26/10)

the sociopath next door
There are certain parts in the book that I thought were more interesting than others. I still learned a lot and would recommend it to others.
Pat (04/06/10)

I lived in fear and terror.
My father was a sociopath and I could never explain his evil to others until I read this book. As children, my sisters and I lived in constant fear for our lives and were sexually and physically abused. My father never showed any conscience or remorse. He was without normal human feelings. He eventually shot himself after my mother finally left him. At the funeral friends came up to us and said, "At last your free". The description of sociopath fits my father to a T. Suicide is a common solution for them when they have used up all their options.
I was glad the author warned about C.E.O. s and politicians. Leaders like Hitler and Pol Pol were certainly sociopaths and this mental deficit explains much of the evil in the world. The stupid ones end up in jail and too often, the smart ones end up running corporations and governments.
I thought the author cited enough scientific studies of psychopathology to support her conclusions. I can't recommend this book highly enough. I found the negative criticisms of this book curious and naive.
Thinking and emotions are closely tied together - certainly are inseparable for normal human beings. For sociopaths, conscience and compassion do not enter the picture. As the author says, "We need to know..." to be able to recognize these people and protect ourselves. Her advise to get them out of our lives is sound. I am grateful Martha Stout wrote this important book and I recommend it to all my friends and family.
L. Adlai Boyd, Ph.D. (06/05/09)

Hyperbole Written To Scare--and Sell!
Stout's book reveals a fine mind operating considerably below her credentials and available science. Not only does she fail to make the case for the statistics she cites (all too often), but she makes the cardinal error of absolutism, where relativism, especially in "diagnosis." She also fails to convince the reader that the very cases she cites should fall under the overvast rubric of total "sociopathology." Further, though she tips her hat to the obvious interactions between nature and nurture, she is either ignorant about, or purposefully ignores, relevant behavioral data and studies of aberrant behavior that, in vivo, might reflect some measure of sociopathology, but on a sliding scale. It is her insistance in an "all or nothing" diagonosis that is widest of reality. There is a little sociopathology in us all, some much more than others. That said, her smarmy advice on how to recognize and deal with the boogey-persons she creates (hardly describes with any accuracy, citing the Pd scale of the MMPI as something of a marker) never leaves the starting gate toward anything new or helpful.

In all, Stout has capitalized on our fascination with aberrant behavior, created a monster in our minds, and suggests that any evidence of "sociopathology" is evidence for the complete absence of conscience. Madam, you go too far!
Shell (03/04/09)

A Truly Frightening Book
I don't find the topic frightening but the authors "breathtaking callousness" in deciding who has no conscience, and her basis for this conclusion.

Stout states facts without basis. This would not be permitted in a high school essay.

She does not define terms she uses so frequently: "moral" , "decent", "good". Her definition of Sociopath appears to be anyone who acts in discord with accepted societal standard

She refers to an undefined time period when "life was hard" and children had to obey, when life got easier children could think for themselves and this was a "breeding ground for today's sociopaths"

Ms. Stout may be surprised to find out that we are as a society kinder to each other and less violent than at any time in history. The fact that we are appalled by violence, says much.

Perhaps there were fewer sociopaths as she's defined them, because cruel behavior was not considered an aberration. In fact, it was sport. Witch burning, bringing lunch to watch someone be fed to the lions, lynching, bear baiting, public hangings, was not considered anti-social. Therefore.. fewer antisocial people existed..

These children who were able to think for themselves did break laws, and those broken laws eventually gave African Americans equal rights under the law, gained women the vote, outlawed animal torture as entertainment.

Those law breakers were considered at the time to be "anti social", a threat to the good and decent law abiding folk..

Also ignored are mental illnesses which can cause people to act in heinous ways, frequently with much regret. Stout finds it her place however to decide who has "Absolutely no conscience" or "Absolutely no remorse" she in effect decides who is "human" and who is not. And according to what she has written, she needs nothing more than one of her clients sides of the story to decide this.

It makes me glad we no longer live in a time where one can have a neigbour burned at the stake simply by saying she's a witch.

Stouts unfounded statements, her "absolutism" has no place in psychology, or study of human behaviour. The superficial and treatment of a complex subject is an offense to anyone with the most rudimentary critical thinking skills. Unfortunately
I think it will encourage people to use the term and it's inherent judgement far too casually.
Michele (03/03/09)

he sucked the life out of me and my child
Wow - I just bought this book - for ME...I'm in the healing process of this man with antisocial disorder- this book fits him to a T...and it is helping me heal - thank you Dr. Stout. No one knows what is like unless you live it...this man was charming, I was in love with him...although he left not many trails of where he lived, where he worked, no email contact.....but I did find out he had his girlfriend with him on my side of the U.S. where he had not lived anywhere previously- he brought his longtime girlfriend here with him behind my back the 3 yrs we dated- saying he moved here for me. I pray people start opening their eyes and when red flags go off as they did early on with him... he and other sociopaths will steer clear of them before the are emotionally scarred as I am. He is also a narcissist....
Tantrum (02/06/09)

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
This book is an opinion piece and nothing more

Stout lives in a fantasy world of "good" and "Bad" and decides without a second thought, who is remorseless, evil and irredeemable.

She doesn't offer educated reasoning for her conclusions, assumes that good and bad are self evident and in agreement with her personal standards.

She's also a mind reader, she knows without a doubt when someone feels "Absolutely no guilt, or remorse"

That's a personality disorder in itself.

This book masquerades it's purpose as education but it's an insult to truly educational authors everywhere.

File it with Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura
Chu C.J. (01/24/09)

The Sociopath ruled us for 8 years
Our former President Chen, is fully matched all conditions in the book. What Dr. Stout said is true. Do not doubt. Even more, the whole family of Chen , his wife, daughter, son, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, are too.
Allen (12/22/08)

This Book Changed My Life
This book was a Godsend and changed my life. I spent almost two decades with a sociopath trying to figure this person out. Finally, all my questions have been answered by Martha Stout. I only wish I could have had the benefit of her book years earlier. I now understand there are manipulative people in the world who have no conscience. They are attracted to bighearted people they can easily manipulate. Sometimes you must get to know someone in a close, personal relationship before you realize he or she is a sociopath . . . they are able to 'blend in'. After reading The Sociopath Next Door I realized my 'friend' was a textbook sociopath. Everything Martha writes in this book is true . . . and I have lived it as proof.

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