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Written in clear and simple language, "The Empathy Trap" encapsulates and renders accessible what are usually very complicated psychological terms and relational paradigms. Dr. Jayne McGregor and Tim McGregor, together, have put their clinical practice to work for those in the wider community, by offering this brief, but valuable guide to understanding, identifying, and healing from "sociopathic" or otherwise anti-social personalities.

Whether such types are found in your work place, social circle or family, there are ways of detecting what their specific pathological and unusual behaviours are, how they tend to operate outwardly and inwardly, and how their behaviours and beliefs complicate and pollute communications and triangulate relationships between immediate and extended family members as well as between their "targets" and social contacts.

This guide includes moving testimony by survivors of sociopathic abuse, as well as sober recommendations on how to establish healthy boundaries with abusers, and approaches to recovery from long-entrenched connection to them. It also offers a very helpful EQ (Emotional Quotient) test as well as a list of British and international organisations and mental health resources for those who need further assistance.

Overall, this is a must read for anyone in an abusive relationship, those interested in psychology and/or needing practical advice on removing the sociopath from his or her life and protecting children from harm and generational pain.

I have found that this work differs from other books on the subject of narcissism and personality disorders, in addressing, specifically, the role of the "apath", or apathetic members of a family or society, who enable and protect the sociopath and his/her abuse of the victim(s) (i.e. the "truth-tellers") either unknowingly, by relying on heresay, or by turning a blind eye to controlling, deceptive or manipulative behaviours. This is one insidious pattern, in the paradigm of emotional and mental abuse, that many books on personality disorders fail to address clearly or as thoroughly, and which most people need to understand, on a grand scale.

I highly recommend this work both for its practical benefit and its sensitive and pellucid style.
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on 10 February 2015
Have just finished this and of all the books I've been reading following a relationship with a psycho/sociopath this gave me the eureka moment. Whilst beginning to understand the traits, I was finding it difficult to get to grips with the interactions. There's a chapter in here I think 4 where the dynamic of sociopath/apath/empath is explained. All of a sudden it fell into place after 6 months. I'd have given the five stars but the case studies of fictionally named victims can be a bit of a yawn. Nonetheless a very good and enlightening read for me. Many thanks
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on 1 January 2016
This book gives a very clear insight into dealing with people in whatever context you are having the relationship difficulty. The difficulties can be can be circulatory in that it is difficult to ever fix anything or improve the relationship because the problem manifests itself again in another situation and a change of response is difficult to achieve. Clever people manipulate situations so they always come out on top without care or respect for other people is at the heart of the subject matter of this book. This book aims to uncover some of the underlying psychological threads that may be perpetuating these types of relationship difficulties that don't seem ever to get resolved causing misery and unhappiness.

This book helped me understand my relationship difficulties with my sisters. It is clear about the personality types and their particular traits and the part you are playing in the context of the any recurrent difficulty. It explains how collusion works in triangulated situations where there is a third party. The role of the third party as described in the book explains how 'apaths' support the dominating sociopath to get their own way in the power and control game and seemingly have no conscience about the harm and damage done or the role they play in this cruel game

I read this book early in 2015. I have just gone through it again and it has offered further insights that help me understand the complexities of these relationships. It is not a simplistic book but it is a book that is written in a way that the subject matter can be grasped in however it relates to your own situation whether it be with a partner, parent, siblings, friend, work colleagues. It also has a good reference section for further reading.

It is an empowering book that helps define the problem lifting the sense of isolation that accompanies it. The book needs to be gone through carefully. The enabling self help helped me to gain confidence in changing the way I thought and dealt with specific situations that I was faced with. The learning has allowed me to feel more in control and self assured and able to think clearly about all responses involved in conflict relating to relationship.
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on 22 April 2014
Ok, muddled in parts. The chapters on surviving living,working with sociopaths most interesting.The case studies especially of belligerent parents, both mothers and fathers are ones we all know or suspect but never express. So that was refreshing.
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Are you very empathetic? Do you know anyone who you found absolutely charming when you first met them, only for them subsequently to have turned on you? Did you try to get them back onside but whatever you did was wrong? Do you find yourself constantly apologising? Do you doubt your own perception of reality? Does your tormentor claim you are lying, causing you to doubt your recollection of events? Does your tormentor dismiss your concerns by accusing you of being “too sensitive”? Have people who you thought were on your side siding with your tormentor, turning a blind eye, being unable to see the abuse for what it is or actually joining in the criticism of you? Do you possibly admire your tormentor and not see him/her for what he/she is? Does your tormentor tell you that what you think happened never did? If you just recognise just a few of these symptoms, you may be the victim of a sociopath.

Had the book included the word sociopath in the title, I would have avoided it on the basis that it was highly unlikely to be relevant to me - a ‘sociopath’, I thought, is a severely twisted individual, the like of which I will never probably encounter. Think again. The author reports that a large clinical trial involving primary care patients in the USA found that 8% of men and 3.1% of women met the criteria for a diagnosis of Anti-social Personality Disorder (AsPD). AsPD is one of the terms used to describe people who display sociopathic traits. It is another word for a sociopath.

The problem with the word ‘sociopath’ is that it sounds so severe and over the top – but people who display sociopathic traits are far more common than you may think. 8% of men and 3.1% of women is a very large proportion – and the true figure may be higher. Incidentally, the book remarks that many of the traits of a sociopath are lauded in business, so you are more likely to encounter a sociopath at work than elsewhere. As the book says:

“Sociopaths are more numerous than is generally supposed and WE ENCOUNTER THEM ON A DAILY BASIS, EVEN IF WE DON’T REGISTER THE FACT. They may be your neighbour, your partner, your boss, or the person next to you in the checkout queue. SO IT IS QUITE PROBABLE THAT IF YOU DON’T KNOW ONE INTIMATELY, YOU HAVE FLEETING CONTACT WITH A FEW”
(I have emphasised the relevant words)

I picked this book up as I am empathetic but I had no idea how useful a book it would be. It explained so much about a few toxic people I have come across – it explains why they act as they do. It is absolutely fascinating.

Reading the book was like reading a book about symptoms of an illness and saying to myself ‘got that, got that, got that’. Over and over again, I recognised the symptoms – it was an eye opener, educational and a relief. It explained so much.

The author states that the aim of this book is not to highlight AsPD/sociopathy itself but to highlight “the destructive effect of sharing your life with someone who has a sociopathic disorder”. And it does that very well. The best way to stop you being conned is to show you the MO of a con man. In a similar way, this book states the common MOs of a sociopath and explains what they derive from doing what they do. This opens your eyes and makes it far more likely that you will recognise potential sociopaths in your life. And remember, “it is quite probable that if you don’t know one (sociopath) intimately, you have fleeting contact with a few”.

Two important points:

• Who do sociopaths target? Highly empathetic people – ‘empaths’, as the author calls them. If you are empathetic and take a stand against injustice when others don’t, read this book because you are a prime target for sociopaths. The fact that you “take a stand against injustice when others don’t” is one of the reasons why a sociopath targets you – you are a threat to them as they get up to all sorts of injustice and they don’t want you pointing it out.

• One of the many things I found fascinating is that sociopaths team up with ‘apaths’ i.e. apathetic people. I have seen this happen – invariably people who have AsPD/sociopathic traits also have people who turn a blind eye to the actions of the sociopath and can even be drawn in as an accomplice. The book explains how the sociopath draws them in.

I had not even considered that certain people I have met might be sociopaths. The book opened my eyes. If you are empathetic, please read it.
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on 28 December 2013
An insightful guide to a destructive syndrome. I have long thought that empathy and the lack of it are key to understanding social breakdown. This book summarises the research clearly and provides a fascinating profile of sociopaths and their modus operandi.
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on 20 November 2013
i have known too many of these types in my life and always thought i was at fault..then my best friend started a relationship with a man who showed every trait..i warned her. she knew what she was heading into, but like a lot of women, think they can 'change' with their 'love'. what happened? she was crushed by this man, and he even took over her facebook and deleted all her friends including me..
she escaped when he made his ex wife pregnant! and i gave her this book to read, she felt so much better after and re reads it just to reaffirm what she now knows is sociopathic behaviour, or C....S.!
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on 11 February 2016
I enjoyed this book. there is a lot of good information to be learned . it can get a little bit heavy going at times but a second read is sometimes helpful. the writer has a good deep understanding of the problem and there is a lot one can learn from this book
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on 23 August 2013
I found this book a very interesting read. However, I thought it rather simplistic and everything was dealt with in a cursory manner. I would have preferred to see things dealt with in more depth. But as it went, it was a good read.
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on 16 July 2013
I was initially drawn to this book by its title as this was how I was starting to feel - trapped by my empathetic nature and increasingly becoming burdened with it. I started to realise that I could be easily manipulated by people and that anyone could take advantage of this aspect of my personality; from strangers to close family and good friends. This wasn't good for my mental health but luckily, for me, I did seem to have some insight that this was happening. This book certainly makes you aware of the techniques some people will use to get you to do what they want you to do and undermine your belief in yourself and your instincts. These people do exist and the book certainly opens your eyes to recognising the potential sociopaths in your life. It has useful advice on what you can do to help yourself including self-help exercises and addresses of organisation to contact, which can offer assistance and support. It so well written that it is easy to understand for the layperson as well as the professional. I hope there is more to come, from these authors, on the subject of empathy.
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