The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, Ph.D.

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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.

About Martha Stout, Ph.D.

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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.
Published February 8, 2005 by Harmony. 256 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Parenting & Relationships, Self Help, Professional & Technical, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Employing vivid composite character sketches, the author introduces us to such unsavory characters as a psychiatric administrator who specializes in ingratiating herself with her office staff while making her patients feel crazier;

Nov 01 2004 | Read Full Review of The Sociopath Next Door

The New York Times

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''When sociopathy and blood lust come together in the same person, the result is a dramatic -- even a cinematic -- nightmare, a horror figure who seems larger than life,'' she pronounces in a chapter entitled ''Ice People.'' Later, in one of her many discussions of the bogus choice between sociop...

Mar 06 2005 | Read Full Review of The Sociopath Next Door

Publishers Weekly

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Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Stout says that as many as 4% of the population are conscienceless sociopaths who have no empathy or affectionate feelings for humans or animals.

Dec 20 2004 | Read Full Review of The Sociopath Next Door

Nights and Weekends

In The Sociopath Next Door, Stout details characteristics of sociopaths, which she defines as people who are void of any conscience and have no emotional bonds with other people.

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Montreal Gazette

The man had no conscience, and nothing could be done to make him different.” There are certain character traits that define a sociopath, and some people who knew Jones for many years, such as Coughlan, agree he fits the bill.

Feb 14 2010 | Read Full Review of The Sociopath Next Door

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