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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review ‘The Sociopath Next Door’ by Martha Stout


12 Million Americans are sociopaths therefore, every time you find yourself in a group of 25 people you can expect there is at least one individual without a conscience.

Contrary to popular belief, according to Martha Stout in her book The Sociopath Next Door, only about 20% of these people are in prison. Sociopaths are smart and the psychological game they play is not always illegal and even when it is, the authorities rarely get involved and civil attorneys seem to be very reluctant.

Considering the implications and the lack of new books on the subject, I originally read Dr. Stout's book in 2007 and recently revisited it on audio.

Like a sequence of short-stories, through actual cases from her psychotherapy practice, Martha Stout develops a guide for recognizing the sociopaths in our lives. Surprisingly, she has very little advice for dealing with these individuals and the havoc they place in our lives. Instead, she sends out a lot of warnings about staying away or eliminating contact with a sociopath.

Warning, bring in Oscar, because sociopaths are excellent actors; often having learned at a very young age the art of feigning emotions, they are typically smart, charismatic, and tireless, cunning thrill seekers, often difficult to expose.

For normal empathetic persons, recognizing these individuals can be problematic. Convincing others, even professionals that you are dealing with a true sociopath can be even more immense.

Consequently, I have my own example or definition of a sociopath. "At the bar, the sociopath buys you your favorite drink. The bartender sets the drink in front of you and turns his back to the two of you. Just as you reach for the drink the sociopath grabs it, and spits in it before handing it back to you, fully well believing you should drink it. Further adding insult to injury, the sociopath will comment to others boasting he/she bought you a drink."


This is a dark example, nevertheless, important; you can always toss a drink, but what about the sociopath/sociopaths you cannot remove from your life? Every bit as important, how can you help loved ones controlled by these individuals? Although Dr. Stout offers very little help for dealing with these monsters, her book is still a Must.

Review by Sammy Sutton