Customer Reviews for

The Sociopath Next Door

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( 199 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

34 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

this is a self-help book, not a diagnostic text book

I think this book is wonderful. Of course the intent is not to get people out there labeling, slandering, and harrassing people they think are sociopaths. That would be sociopathic, wouldn't it?! This book is not a sword, its' a shield! The idea is to understa...
I think this book is wonderful. Of course the intent is not to get people out there labeling, slandering, and harrassing people they think are sociopaths. That would be sociopathic, wouldn't it?! This book is not a sword, its' a shield! The idea is to understand what it means when someone behaves this way, and know that it's not you, you can't change it, you can't cure them, and what you see may not even be real. And that the only solution in dealing with someone who is seriously wronging you in the ways described, is to remove yourself from them, stay away from them, to preserve yourself. And that there's absolutely nothing wrong or selfish about keeping yourself safe. (Which is something many a sociopath will try to convince you of.) As far as the inclusion of political figure reference. I have NO clue whether she was referring to Bush or Clinton or neither. But the fact is, both have been accused of lying, and that is a hallmark of a sociopath. Does that mean everyone who lies is a sociopath? Of course not. Are Bush or Clinton sociopaths? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. It's impossible to know the full social workings of a celebrity, because of the very nature of celebrity. (Personally I think they're both immoral baffoons, but that's neither here nor there for the topic.) I think it's like others have said, that the author was merely pointing out behaviours which can be signs of trouble. And how they can present themselves in all walks of life, at all levels. Again this book is not meant as a psychology text book or a diagnostic tool. It is good for one thing, and one thing only - understanding the nature of why some people might operate the way they do, and to pull the scales from the eyes of those of us who previously didn't know that sociopaths do not change, that their behaviour is inherent, and it's not our fault, and not our responsibility, and beyond our control. Thereby freeing us. I can say that I felt a great relief after reading this book. Not because disillusionment is pleasant. But because enlightenment is calming.

posted by Anonymous on August 21, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

20 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

Soft Psychology in a New Age Package

I found this to be a highly readable study of a difficult subject-people without consciences-but in the end I was put off by its marshmallow spiritualism. Simply put, what does Buddhism and the Dalai Lama (however admirable) have to do with such an extreme condition as...
I found this to be a highly readable study of a difficult subject-people without consciences-but in the end I was put off by its marshmallow spiritualism. Simply put, what does Buddhism and the Dalai Lama (however admirable) have to do with such an extreme condition as psychopathy? I felt a little as if I was standing in the Born-Again choir watching damned souls writhe in Hell. Dr. Stout's advice-Stay away from those in such straits. Well, yeah. More troublesome was the post-mortem and from-a-distance typecasting of everyone from Genghiz Khan to Charlie Manson as pure psychopaths. The concept that, while nature may make some people hard, environment may make normal people just as bad, seems lost on the author. There are conditions in life, including narcissitic personality, the affective disorders, plus plain old self-centeredness, that create effects quite similar to psychopathy. This, along with the possibility that a weak conscience under extreme conditions might lead to no conscience, (sociopathy), is not explored. Overall, a disappointment. Read Dr. Hare's WITHOUT CONSCIENCE for more concrete insights into the subject. The ultimate fictional account of the condition, one of the scariest books ever written, is William March's BAD SEED. Go to your library for this one-it's out of print- or see the great movie with Pattie McCormick.

posted by Anonymous on January 8, 2006

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2007

    Four percent of us determines history

    At once profound and down to earth, Martha Stout, clinical psychologist--specializing in victims of sociopaths--takes us through true-to-life case studies all the while interpreting the thoughts and emotions of the sociopathic personality as well as those of his or her victims. Sociopaths are often charismatic, beguiling, smart, and attractive, which just feeds into their need for control. Stout does all this in very readable style. In both plain and technical terms, she analyzes just what it means to live without a conscience--with no concern for others. Of greater importance, Stout illustrates superbly just how disrupive such lives can be to both the sociopath and the rest of us. One in 25 of us lives next door to one if not with one. They look just like us. Their behavior in public normally does not give them away. Nevertheless, Stout illustrates how to recognize and deal with these amoral creatures. She offers hope for the future from logic based on 25 years of clinical experience, not wishful thinking. The antisocial fringe will laugh at her book. The rest of us should read it carefully and absorb its lessons. They bear critically on our times, for history mainly recounts the misdeeds and too few deeds of this personality type when it holds the reins of power.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2005

    An astounding achievement. And an essential guide. No book will ever serve you better or remain longer in the mind.

    Dr Stout's compelling account of people bereft of genuine emotion and conscience is as important as it is beautifully written. The Sociopath Next Door is a gripping read about those who have are unable to know real remorse or love. Sociopaths are dangerous by definition. They live to control, manipulate, and win. Yet, strangely, they are some of the most interesting and attractive people we will ever meet. Sociopaths are gracious, charming, attractive, and a menace to all who come close. Stout calls them 'Ice People.' It's not that they are killers, or criminals, though some clearly are. Most are people we meet in everyday life: lovers, relatives, fellow workers, even parents. Sociopaths are incapable of remorse. Stout's advise is to stay away, wholly, completely. There is no winning and no compromise with a sociopath. The only safety is distance. Interwoven in these amazing narratives-composites taken from a long clinical practice and many years of luminous academic experience- is one of the best discussions of the nature of conscience to be found in contemporary letters. Stout's book has been as controversial as it has been successful. Perhaps it is her literary, philosophical or scientific and sociological range that confounds some. Or, maybe it is her hauntingly lyric language that puzzles others. For victims of sociopaths--and eventually, nearly all of us have had [or will have] encounters with people who turned out to be harmful, and were deliberately so--- this is an important book. Indeed, it is mandatory reading. By dent of the sheer prevalence of sociopathy [one in twenty five, at least¿male and female alike], we are bound to encounter sociopaths. Their only purpose is to use us and make us less. As sharks have to swim and feed, sociopaths can do no other than bring us low when it serves their interests. This book is an amazingly useful admonition. No book will ever serve you better or remain longer in the mind.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2014

    I can't recommend this book highly enough. I am a psychologist a

    I can't recommend this book highly enough. I am a psychologist and it has been tremendously helpful in my professional like, as well as in my personal life. I have recommended it to several friends and patients. Easy to read and will really help you to understand those who you previously couldn't. It is very difficult for those of us who are not sociopathic to fully grasp and conceptualize the mind of a sociopath. This book will provide clarity, guidance, and healing. A MUST READ!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2013

    I picked up this book after a year and a half recovery from a re

    I picked up this book after a year and a half recovery from a relationship with someone who I now believe to be a sociopath.  For those who doubt the book's, or subjects veracity I would say you've never been involved on a personal level with someone who has this disorder.  These are extremely dangerous people who appear to be genuine, caring human beings but really are missing empathy and the ability to attach themselves to others emotionally.  I personally suffered a nervous breakdown along with PTSD and severe depression from being in love with someone who had turned out to have almost every symptom of antisocial personality disorder.  I've read some book reviews that poke at some of the context of the book and its chapters on spirituality and so forth, but the ability to love and empathize is connected to the soul and these people were either not born with one or lost theirs along the way.  Also I've seen some remarks about the author stirring up paranoia over the subject, but again the subject and the people who possess this disorder are VERY real.  Life is a game control, manipulation, lying, and ultimately winning whatever they are after, whatever the cost, without regard for the damage and devastation they cause to other people.  If you've never had an up close and personal situation with a sociopath, consider yourself lucky and try and absorb the information in the book regardless, along with the other reading material mentioned by other reviewers.  It may seem far-fetched to you now, but if you ever become involved with one of the monsters in some way in the future may the material with help you pay a little more attention to the red-flags in you sub-conscience and act accordingly. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    Big Help Identifying and Understanding Sociopaths

    Our daughter's counselor correctly identified our son-in-law as a Narcissistic Sociopath. This book was good for providing insights on the behavior patterns of sociopaths. I like the stories about different types of sociopaths. We were able to identify at least 5 out of 7 of the traits in him. It helps while working on getting her out of the abusive situation and on with her life. The statistics on how many in our society are sociopaths is startling. If you suspect someone (boss, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, suitor, etc.) then read this book. Best advice: if they are, get away from them fast!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2006

    An elegant book with great narrative strength,

    Stout's book is written with astonishing clarity and great narrative strength. The book, in hard cover for over year, was a huge seller. And rightly so. No 'self help book' was ever so so compelling or useful to explain the inevitable confrontation we all have--or will-- with evil in some form or another. The Sociopath Next Door has a scary cover. But its purpose is not frighten us rather, it is crafted to cope by naming what otherwise might seem all but unfathomable. A winner of this year's 'Books for a Better Life' competition. The hard back became an instant classic, and will be rightly seen as necessary reading as long as there is otherwise inexplicable evil. An elegant book, filled with timeless truth and helpful guides to the mystery victims always ask: 'why did they do?' Stout's answer, is cold comfort and a hard, but essential truth: 'because they could.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2005

    I expected more.

    I found this book to be fairly redundant and felt she repeated herself constantly througout the book. Although some of the information was interesting I just felt like the book dragged considerably. Considering how interesting the subject of sociopathy is, she made is sound insanely boring. And although I didn't enjoy the book, I highly disagree that it has any political propaganda. She never mentions President Bush by name and I never once got the impression that she was even alluding to him.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2005

    not what it seems

    I have read this book and many others on the same subject. this one rated nothing compared to Without Conscience by Robert Hare

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2005

    Didn't live up to the author's interview ...

    The book was very disapointing. I purchased it after seeing the author on a local PBS station. She talked about a whole range of instances and characters ... none of which were in the book. I'm not sure her examples are valid.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2015

    The Sociopath Next Door was a very informational novel, and I th

    The Sociopath Next Door was a very informational novel, and I thought that it was an interesting read at some points.  Martha Stout definitely fulfilled her goal of educating her readers about the sociopaths that surround them, which I am grateful for because I now have the tools to protect myself from such people by being able to recognize them.  While I did learn from the book, it was a little dry in respect to the scientific reasonings to sociopathic behavior.  However, it was a very good read when Stout used narrative examples of sociopaths, making the book seem more fictional than not at some points from the awful behavior expressed by the sociopaths, which is a bit frightening in itself.  Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who isn't a sociopath, because everyone deserves the knowledge that Stout imparts on her readers that allows them to protect themselves from the monsters who are labelled as "sociopaths".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2014

    This is an important book to read if you want to understand how

    This is an important book to read if you want to understand how to avoid those who have no conscious, cannot feel empathy, and destroy anyone who loves them or tries to help them.

    The most important thing I took away from this book is how to spot them right away. They want pity more than anything else in the world and use it to manipulate others. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2014

    PhD poof

    Lots of 2005 political and Koombiyah claptrap. Verbose, sophmoric stories peppered with footnoted gems - by other great PhDs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2014

    Check this book out!

    An excellent read, even if the topic is a little unnerving. I definitely recommend reading this is you have any interest in the subject.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2014

    I highly recommend this book, and the way that she touches base

    I highly recommend this book, and the way that she touches base with this personality disorder in the psycho-dynamic perspective is a lot 
    different but precise than what I have heard from reading about this mental illness from other psychologists. I also think that she does a good
    job explaining the other side of the coin, or the victimology perspective, and making that connection that from sociopathy leads into victimology,
    so what exactly are we to do? This is where you should read the book and find out!

    Though this is from the psycho-dynamic perspective, as well as a little bit of the cognitive-behavioral, I would have wanted to learn more about the neurological point of view and exactly what the inactivity of the left frontal regions of the brain really are.I would have liked to learn and understand better the differences of how someone who is just not nice or toxic compared to someone who really is a sociopath, and debunking a lot of the misconceptions, such as now a true sociopath never admits that they are one. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    This book can be life-saving! Readers are presented with sharp t

    This book can be life-saving! Readers are presented with sharp tools to face cruel predators who seek out kind, generous people and then zero in for the kill. Sociopaths don't think or feel, unless about their own desires.

    Has your body ever signalled that you're being used, mis-treated or that something is off? Dr. Stout urges her readers to acknowledge these flashes of insight and to pay attention to their feelings. Dr. Stout provides chilling examples of those who failed to listen.

    The rampancy of sociopathy is stunning, mainly because kind people are reluctanct to 'judge others' or 'say anything', even as they are being bullied, robbed blind and abused.

    Sociopaths are responsible for all manner financial abuses and for ladder-climbing abuses (they'll not hesitate to aggrandize themselves as they misrepresent your accomplishments) They are shameless 'takers' who'll rob you blind and then make the disaster all YOUR fault.

    This easy-read teaches good people how to identify and deal with users. Education is the best prevention. Eleanor Cowan, author of 'A History of a Pedophile's Wife.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2014

    Intriguing!

    Strong insight to the why and how of sociopathy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2013

    Brilliant and insightful

    A startling, compelling depiction of a terrifying condition and a skillfull, fascinating indictment of a culture that shields and encourages it.

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  • Posted November 10, 2013

    Interesting.

    Ms. Stout takes us on an interesting if a bit simplistic look into the minds of a small but significant portion of our population. If you are one of the more astute who have recognized the behaviors described in this book and wondered why others couldn't see it; or worse, were made to feel there was something wrong with you for not thinking "the pillar of the company" was a great guy, then this book is for you. What Ms. Stout leaves out and what would have made this a great book is how to deal with these people and the people around them that swallow their stories with such trust and abandon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

    Definitely recommend. Helpful!

    Wow,this book brought my life to reality in print! Helped me understand what I went through and why. I had forgotten so much just so I could get through life and cope. It reminded me of why I cannot hate my mother,she wouldn't care anyway!
    It's very helpful now as we try to deal with an ex daughter in law who uses her children as tools, not her flesh and blood.
    Very eye opening, glad to have this book. I haven't finished it yet so I hope it continues to provide insight.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2013

    Interesting and creepy.

    I bought the hardcover rather than the Nook version, as it is on sale for less than $8 now. I wish it went a bit deeper at times, but it gives you an overview of sociopathy. It does not mention that there are some sociopaths who are not criminals and who try not to harm other people (read Confessions of a Sociopath for that), however. The author gives some good examples and a guide to identifying and protecting yourself against sociopaths.

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