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?
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What I liked about this book: It is very well written. Stouts ghostwriter is exceptionally gifted and the book has a delightfully brisk pace, very clear language, and mostly smooth transitions. Its substance, however, is cartoonish pop psychology masquerading as information. It draws its popularity from the same source as the The Da Vinci Code, under-informed, uncritical readers with a penchant for sensationalism; mostly [redacted]. In the hands of its intended audience, it is pure mind poison.
This evil class is partly bred by American tradition and society because they reward people for being competitive and individualistic and then helps the evil sociopaths hide. Thus, the reader is indirectly victimized even by the institutions of American culture.
But this book gives you the easy steps you need to survive the evil, so buy a copy for your friends—your non-sociopath friends, that is. Thus, all con men are sociopaths. All non-starving burglars and thieves are sociopaths. Art thieves, sociopaths. Insider traders, sociopaths.
Leaders who start wars are sociopaths Jefferson Davis? Your ex who lied to you and manipulated you? A friend lies to you three times—only probably a sociopath. This idea is so bad, it is amazing it made it into print. One can see why the book finds a market. Conspicuous examples include former U. President George W. The book then implies that most politicians and successful business people are probable sociopaths. The books recommends tests such as: Has the person lied to you three times?
Probably a sociopath. Has the person hurt you more than once and asked for mercy? Definitely a sociopath. However, even the constellation of factors from the DSM is embarrassingly non-specific: a failure to conform to social norms; b deceptiveness; c impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead; d irritability and aggressiveness; d reckless disregard for personal safety or the safety of others; e consistent irresponsibility in work or financial matters; f lack of remorse for misconduct. Sounds like most high school students.
Thus, the mean old woman next door who has a trust fund and fights with her neighbors over trifles and who puts a rock over a groundhog hole in her own yard is a sociopath.
You can find a sociopath wherever you want to—with the help of this book. 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. And your boss, teacher, and colleague? They may be sociopaths too. They have judged their audience well.
I have a conscience. I am not a sociopath denier. I believe in sociopathy. I believe it is fairly common. If a person lies to you, or hurts you, or cheats you, you should drop them because that person did bad things to you, not because a book says the person has a psychiatric disorder that makes them a member of an invisible evil society of the congenitally amoral that you can only see with included decoder glasses.
The main fallacy of the book is that it begins by saying sociopaths are hard even for professionals to detect, but then claims that this book can let anyone do it. This is accomplished because the book makes the remarkable conclusion that everyone who persistently does bad things is a sociopath. So what value is the book? It is mainly good at one thing: Making money for Martha. Beyond that, it is also very thought provoking as an exemplar of what can pass for legitimate publishing these days.
Even so, the book asks many good questions. The books gets one star, not because it is all bad or badly executed. There are innumerable quality chunks in it. However, the cumulative effect of the book is, in my opinion, as dangerous and anti-social as the activity of any sociopath. This pernicious effect of the book is not only terrifically obvious, but far outweighs any claim that the book, in its present form, is valuable as a "warning" or "tool" for people to protect themselves with.
The book wantonly maximizes these anti-social and sensationalist effects and embraces them as a path to the best seller list and to big money.
Outsmarting the Sociopath Next Door
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. And your boss, teacher, and colleague?
The Sociopath Next Door
Narcissism is, in a metaphorical sense, one half of what sociopathy is. Even clinical narcissists are able to feel most emotions are strongly as anyone else does, from guilt to sadness to desperate love and passion. The half that is missing is the crucial ability to understand what other people are feeling. Narcissism is a failure not of conscience but of empathy, which is the capacity to perceive emotions in others and so react to them appropriately. The poor narcissist cannot see past his own nose, emotionally speaking, and as with the Pillsbury Doughboy, any input from the outside will spring back as if nothing had happened. Unlike sociopaths, narcissists often are in psychological pain, and may sometimes seek psychotherapy. When a narcissist looks for help, one of the underlying issues is usually that, unbeknownst to him, he is alienating his relationships on account of his lack of empathy with others, and is feeling confused, abandoned, and lonely.