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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight
Martha Stout provides a clear explanation and description of 'the sociopath' that ranges from simple examples of the devastating impact people without conscience are able to have, to an incisive and broad ranging overview of our understanding of morality. Dealing with sociopaths is tough, not least because they are arch-manipulators who know how to shape our emotional...
Published on 21 Jan 2007 by Lorenzo R

versus
62 of 78 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Opinionated and misleading
I find it a bit surprising to see this book receiving such high marks. I agree it's easy to read, but it's also shallow, opinionated, biased and even misleading.

Perhaps the reviews here on this book, are quite telling regarding how easy it is to convince someone. If one were tricked into believing in this book and even giving it the highest mark, I can only...
Published on 5 Dec 2007 by Swedish reader


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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight, 21 Jan 2007
Martha Stout provides a clear explanation and description of 'the sociopath' that ranges from simple examples of the devastating impact people without conscience are able to have, to an incisive and broad ranging overview of our understanding of morality. Dealing with sociopaths is tough, not least because they are arch-manipulators who know how to shape our emotional responses unseen and un-noticed by us because we make the assumption that they are driven by the same impulses as we are. This book makes it clear that this error is the most destructive one we can make - sociopaths are not 'like us', they can not 'be reasoned with' or 'reformed'. This knowledge is invaluable for anyone whose life comes in contact with a sociopath, but also fascinating for all who seek to understand human nature and why people do what they do!
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling reading!, 6 Sep 2006
This book should be part of the school curriculum. It is compelling reading for anyone who is interested in 'what makes people tick'. It serves as a warning to us all, and I wish I'd been able to read it years ago.

They say psychiatrist's waiting rooms are full of the victims of sociopaths. If more people read this book, they will at least be armed with the knowledge to help identify such people.

A serious subject, turned into enjoyable reading.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book!, 22 Jun 2007
We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals like Hannibal Lechter or Ted Bundy.

Martha Stout in this book reveals how a shocking 4 percent of the population have the same chief symptom, namely a complete lack of conscience. The difference is that the majority with this mental disposition operate within the laws and only rarely get caught.

The book is easy to read without having a psych degree and Martha Stout uses many examples to show how these people charm and deceive their way through life in total disregard for the impact on other people.

Martha Stout further teaches how to identify a sociopath and how to protect oneself from the impact of one.

I found the book clear and light and also a celebration of the 96% who do have a conscience.

The book is well worth reading along with "In sheeps clothing" by George Simon, "Political Ponerology" by Andrzej Lobaczewski, "The mask of sanity" by Hervey Checkley and "Without conscience" by Robert Hare, that all deal with different aspects of the phenomenon.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A necessity, 23 Jun 2007
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A friend recommended this book to me, and I came away with my world-view significantly altered. That very fact chilled me to the core; that I thought for so long that I was safe and could funtion effectively in the world and not be harmed. But after reading "The Sociopath Next Door" - and shattering that illusion instilled into most of us about what a psychopath is - I saw how the force of evil literally has its agents installed within the world, and how they're the chief cause of humanity's long history of perpetual suffering.

Along with this, I would recommend Robert Hare's "Without Conscience" and Andrew Lobaczewski's "Political Ponerology" to see how this shadowy ruthless hydra grows and spreads like a virus in the body.

If it goes untreated any longer, a significant majority of humanity will walk straight into the meat grinder purely from ignorance. It has happened before, and it WILL happen again. Don't bet for a minute it won't be you, or somebody you love.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exellent overview, 10 July 2007
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
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In 'The Sociopath Next Door', Stout concentrates on those sociopaths who are not violent but who remain hidden amongst us. She estimates that 1 in 25 of the US population are sociopaths meaning that they have no concience.It's a claim that you might easily dismiss before reading the book, but haven't you met someone who seems to undermine your efforts at work for no apparent reason, who makes you feel sorry for them so that they can manipulate you, or someone who only thinks about themselves without an aparent care for anyone else?

Stout explains quite complex theories in language that is easy to understand. She looks at historical and Freudian theories about the nature of conscience. One of the most interesting parts for me was her consideration of the impact of Millgram's Obedience experiments and what this means for the general populations' risk of being manipulated by these people.

She also includes a handy 13 point plan that will prevent you being targeted.

An excellent study which is really easy to read. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, 21 April 2014
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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For many years we've been friends with this guy whom I'll call Steve. Steve is an upstanding member of the community, has a picture-perfect All-American family, a respectable job, and a wide circle of friends. He comes across as charming and very friendly, and seems to be very eager to help and please those around him. However, after getting to know him just a little bit better all these aspects of Steve's life appear to be an act. Steve is in fact extremely competitive even over the dumbest things, scheming, and manipulative. The more I got to know him, the less I wanted to know about him. His constant scheming was eventually too much to handle, and we were forced to cut all personal ties with him.

All along I was wondering what is it that made Steve act in the way that he did. A few years ago I came across an article on Wikipedia on psychopathy, and that's when things finally started making sense. It turns out that psychopaths/sociopaths are actually very common in the society at large. Most of them are not Hannibal Lectors of Hollywood's imagination. They are not serial killers, nor are the majority of them necessarily physically violent. All of them, however, have one main thing in common: they wreak havoc on almost all lives that they touch. Most disturbingly, there are surprisingly many of them around: one to four percent in the US, depending on how rigorous your classification criteria are.

"The Sociopath Next Door" is in many ways the best book on sociopaths/psychopaths that I've read. What distinguishes it from many other similar books is its very practical and applied approach. Furthermore, Martha Stout is an excellent writer in her own right and this is an eminently readable, even literary, book. Book's a pleasure to read, and were the subject matter not this serious and frightening, this would make a great pleasure read.

There are three main things that I loved about the book.

1. Stout reduces psychopathy/sociopathy to just one most salient feature: lack of conscience. She argues, quite persuasively, that all other features of sociopaths are secondary. This insight alone can explain why sociopaths come in so many different guises.
2. Stout provides a very easy and counterintuitive way of identifying sociopaths. One thing that really gives them away is the "pity play": all of them to various extents tap into their victims' compassion in order to manipulate them.
3. Stout provides an excellent and very effective thirteen-point list of ways in which we can deal with sociopaths. Unfortunately there is no way of "curing" these people, so the best we can hope is to try to reduce their effects on others. I have been practicing pretty much all of the recommendations on my own to begin with, and I can assure you that they are very, very effective.

So if this is such a wonderful and useful book, why did I give it only four stars? Because I fear that Stout had overreached. If this had been only a book about individual sociopaths, who they are, and how to deal with them this would have been a wonderful and self-contained book. However, it seems that one of the main motivations behind writing this book had been to denounce wars, and the wars waged by the United States in particular. I have no doubt that many politicians and World leaders are in fact sociopaths, including some US presidents. Nonetheless, reducing all of warfare and a pretty big chunk of international relations to psychological defects of a few individuals, without providing a single concrete shred of evidence for such a claim, is at best intellectually questionable. I am afraid that this other underlying theme has a potential to seriously undermine Stout's main points and insights about sociopaths. Fortunately, this part of the book can be to a large extent ignored.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware, 25 Mar 2013
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I would recommend this book to anyone who fears that may have got involved with one of these parasites and so to know what to look for to avoid them in the future for it is hard for a "normal " person to imagine that these people exist but they do
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you think you can see through a person, think again..., 4 Nov 2007
...because sociopaths (though i prefer the older term: psychopaths) are looking so much like everyone else, are behaving exactly like everyone else, hiding so perfectly their conscienceless/heartless interior world, that walk invisible among us. And if it was only that they walk... it is in their nature to abuse everyone they come upon in order to gain money, fame, sex, whatever their deviant mind decides it wants. With no quilt, no shame, no remorse. So, they are dangerous, and they are invisible. We can't win, here can we?

Yes. By reading this book, where Martha Stout so simply and eloquently describes the characteristics of these people and how to identify them, providing case studies and examples, you gain ammunition towards preserving yourself against sociopaths. And they compose 6% of the population... it's very likely that you will come up one someday (if not already), so better be prepared. And if you already met a person whose behavior was so unlike anyone else, and caused you or people in your life pain and suffering, while he/she walked out completely detached and as if nothing ever happened, you need to read this book.

We owe it to ourselves and the people we love to know who are the predators in our world. In the animal kingdom a species knows their predators from birth. We don't. We have to read to learn. Start with this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very gripping, 5 Mar 2014
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Due to some bad experiences, I got very interested in how some people hurt others and how others do not see it. I recommend it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars useful material, 13 Mar 2010
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I have read the most negative reviews and appreciate some remarks to be valid, however, this book is most definitely worth every penny and I personally highly recommend it. Is an incredibly useful resource.

The author has had a couple of decades dealing with trauma victims, the material is well researched and it's a useful read.
I believe people heading for jury service, the judge and the bobby on the street would find content useful as well as the rest of us - especially the references to 'gaslighting'.

Psychopaths/sociopaths are fundamentally manipulative, often extremely clever and subsequently covert in their modus operandi. They assess victims and use them. I believe Martha goes a long way to help us identify 'sociopaths' but, e.g. in order to see a black hole, you generally need to observe the chaos around it.

Martha tells us the ways a sociopath comes into being and qualifies her statements with references to scientific research, she speaks of Reactive Attachment Disorder and analogises with regards to the Romanian baby adoptions of the 90's. This sort of material is useful in understanding how an individual can come to be the way they are - someone you know perhaps. Though parenting style can shape mental disorders which may be genetic so you have to read this book in the knowledge that sociopathy is a little deeper than this book is able to detail.

She's clear in explaining the 'scale' on which a sociopath works (meaning some are just content to control their spouse and young children to the more Lex Luther or rich millionaire types).

To fault it: I think some of the case studies could be shorter and a few more examples.
It needs bringing up to date to include an example of how a sociopath could use modern technologies to feed their need to control - and you definitely have an increase above the 1 in 25 when in niche areas - such as specialist technologies which are a petri dish perfect for culturing 'control' of small groups to feed the sociopaths selfish and often destructive needs.

Follow this book up with The Mask of Sanity - can't review this because I didn't get it from Amazon but it's probably the most spectacular book on the subject of psychopathology.
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The Sociopath Next Door
The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout Ph.D.
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