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The Sociopath Next Door (2005)

by Martha Stout

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,015948,203 (3.63)86
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.… (more)
  1. 01
    Lunch with a Sociopath by Lucie Lilly Pawlak (lucie.lilly)
  2. 02
    American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: One of Stout's examples is a not-so-thinly veiled George Bush. Interesting to read the nonfictional (but speculative) & fictional portrayals together.
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» See also 86 mentions

English (91)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (93)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
This is one of the best books I've read to help the layman understand this baffling psychological 'condition,' but wait there is more..... By looking at the extreme versions of those with and without a conscience, a light is cast. It illuminates the what's at the end of the paths we can choose. See which one would result in a full and satisfying life.

If you've ever been frustrated because those who swindle, lie, steal, etc. get away with it...

If you've ever questioned the validity of the saying "Cheaters never win..."

If you've ever wondered whether you should have been more ruthless to enhance your own success...

If after being "taken in," you consider, "How could I have recognized this person's issues sooner and cut my losses..."

...READ THIS BOOK. I HIGHLY recommend it. I cannot type it loud enough. Just read it. You'll be so glad you did. ( )
  RaggedyMe | Aug 12, 2023 |
I learned from reading this book that I'm not a complete sociopath..which is good :) Interesting nature vs nurture debate towards the end of the book. ( )
  kwskultety | Jul 4, 2023 |
I’ve been around long enough to have run into a fair number of sociopaths. Of course, at first I didn’t recognize them as such and don't remember being aware they even existed in the everyday world. But experience is a hard teacher and I soon learned my lesson. I can’t say there was a lot in this book that went beyond what I found out on my own but the ‘tells’ about how to spot a sociopath confirmed my suspicion of a few. What I liked best was the part about envying the sociopath’s detachment because I admit I’ve occasionally thought not having a conscience might not be a bad thing. This was convincing and eloquent in making it clear that even though it can feel like an obligation at times, having a conscience that lets us love and feel connected to others is, in fact, a blessing. ( )
  wandaly | Feb 6, 2023 |
This book is an easy read on a subject that is rather difficult for some people to grasp. There are some very clear examples of what behavior is considered sociopathic and why. In addition to exploring what motivates a person with no conscience, the book also explores what motives a person with a conscience. It is not a complete look at the subject, but rather an introduction to ins and outs of what a sociopath looks like (ordinary). ( )
  talon2claw | Dec 31, 2022 |
The good news: I'm not a sociopath! I mean, you never know, Dr. Stout makes it very clear it could be ANYONE. But I live for love, even though it breaks you over and over again.

If you're looking for sensationalized stories of the evil that sociopaths do, this is not the book for you. While there are some incidental stories, the vast majority of the book deals with the psychology of sociopathy. And, quite honestly, it is a little repetitive. If you've ever taken an Intro to Psych class, a lot of it you'll be famililar with, but the insights into sociopathy in both an relational and societal context are quite interesting. ( )
  sublunarie | Sep 30, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stout, Marthaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frasier, ShellyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Steve Stout, my brother and the person I think of first when I think of strength of character
First words
Imagine—if you can—not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends or even family members.
Quotations
The conscience of a people is their power. - John Dryden
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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Book description
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.

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