Customer Reviews for

The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us

Average Rating 4
( 193 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

33 out of 36 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 August 21, 2007

    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 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.

    33 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    An eye-opener

    I used this book as part of my research for a graduate school term-paper. Most of the information was useful and pretty accuarate, however, for the level of work that I needed to do, Dr. Stout's information conflicted a little bit with my other research. The terms "sociopath" and "psychopath" are used interchangably by most of the general public, and although they are similar, there are still some significant differences. The main one being that psychopaths primarily do not have a conscience, and sociopaths do have a conscience, but play by their own set of rules to justify their deceit and manipulation, as with the majority of the criminal element. And, unlike what most people believe, most psychopaths are not outwardly violent or crazy, and they are not all serial killers or in prisons. They also live out in the world with us. The traits that Dr. Stout uses to describe sociopaths are very helpful to keep in mind, and I appreciated her advice on what those of us with a conscience can do to protect ourselves. That is pretty much all we can do, because they will not stop. They will move from person to person until they use us up and wear us out. I speak from experience. I was married to this type of person for 10 years, not understanding why my life was so in chaos. This book helped me to comprehend how and why I was gaslighted. This is a term used in the book to explain how a person without a conscience uses deceit, manipulation, sympathy and guilt to distort your sense of reality, to where you no longer know what is true and not true. It's been a tough road to get my life back on track, but now that things are going much better for me, I realize that nearly all of the bad things that happened to me had little to do with me, and more to do with the things that he did. I made bad choices based on wrong information, lies, broken promises and the guilt he used by telling me that I was not a good wife for not helping (enabling) him. I was abused emotionally, psychologically, verbally, physically and financially. It did not start out this way, but happened very slowly and methodically by him over a long period of time. He was similar to the husband described in the book, the one who did not desire to work and made little efforts on his own, preferring to live off the sweat and hard work put forth by others. I would recommend following the advice Dr. Stout offers throughout the book. You do not know how deeply you are sucked in until you are all the way in, and then have to dig yourself back out. Protect your children, especially your daughters, from people like this, particularly men that they would potentially date or marry. Do not be afraid to speak up if something does not feel right. Actions speak louder than words. Learn to look at people's actions and see if their words match. The superficial charm and flattery that sociopaths and psychopaths use can cloud your judgement. I am thankful for everything I learned by my experiences. Once you go through something so bad, you recognize when you find what is good, and appreciate it so much more. We all have only one life. Make sure that it is the best that you can make it. This book will teach you how to do that.

    25 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2006

    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 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.

    20 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A TOTAL EYE OPENER!

    This book was recommended to me by one of my friends. I am extremely impressed with the knowledge and wisdom of Marth Stout. A very easy read, well written and an amazing book written sucinctly about the Sociopaths. Hats off to Lady Doctor Marth Stout! I wish I could meet this amazing and incredibly smart, talented and gifted author in person. A must read for all Psychology majors and Criminal Justice majors.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2006

    Good to know

    Excellent read for someone looking for a light, quick understanding of sociopaths. They are not all criminals, and specially not scary looking. Now I know to follow my instincts. I recently dealt with such a person, for a short time thank God, however it did leave me feeling very disappointed and pretty 'mad at the world'. I can only image what years of such a companionship must do to someone. The book offers 13 ways to deal with a sociopath, the number one gets you to win half of the battle. Good stuff to know.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2006

    The book the average family should read

    This book wasn't written to cover all of the details of psychopathy - it was written to jolt the average reader into an awareness of their environment. In this respect it deserves 5 stars... if you are coming to this subject fresh it's going to be a shocker and it should be. Dr. Stout provides us with the awareness we need to recognize the sociopaths in our lives, and for that the book belongs in every home. (Politics? Really? I missed that. Of course, I thought she was talking about Clinton, not Bush. Ha!) One reviewer mentioned a disappointment with diagnosing political figures. I couldn't agree more. You can't - and should never - diagnose from a distance. But my impression was that she was giving examples of behavior that appears sociopathic so that the lay person recognizes it easier. I may be wrong. In any case, our understanding of these people is poor, and just beginning, Hopefully this work will spur some interest by the public. One of the strongest points of this book is that it looks at the average sociopath, and doesn't focus just on the serially violent.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2006

    very helpful info everyone should know about

    I found this book fascinating although it took me a while to get into it. This book is easily read and written for the average person. I recommend it and would make my friends and family aware. You never know when someone sociopathic will cross your path and you need to know how to defend yourself. My reason for reading it was purely self defense, but after I got halfway through, I found out I had dated at least one sociopath. Also my good friend recently ended a 7 year relationship with someone we can now see was a serious sociopath. He used all the tricks on her, extreme flattery, compulsive liar, unfaithful, history of sexual harrassment, really didn't bond with his children, took advantage of everyone, from family to business associates, yet sought pity from everyone, and had no friends. That relationship drained and devasted her and left her wondering how she could have been so blind. But all along she kept ignoring her instincts and giving him the benefit of doubt, the benefit of conscience. I am sending this book to her in the hopes she can see that it wasn't her 'fault', and no, she is not dumb by any means. She just trusted someone who didn't deserve it and who was a master manipulator.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    Not all sociopaths are alike. Just because someone lacks empathy

    Not all sociopaths are alike. Just because someone lacks empathy and remorse does not mean that they do not act by some kind of moral code .  I do not have natural empathy. My mother was a bit of a flower child so I was raised in a home that valued empathy (although, my parents were divorced, and when with my father, things were different, to say the least). 
    The author paints us all with a very broad brush, and in the years since I've read it, I've grown to dislike it even more. 
    Some of us try. Just because I don't feel what you feel as a natural response does not mean I want to hurt you. It makes it easy for me to hurt you, but I'm not trying. In fact, I waste a ton of precious energy on trying to fit in and being friendly. It is very awkward. 
    And remember, none of us asked for this... Condition? Gift? Curse? I don't know. But when you're on a road trip with me, and you're driving and you hit a baby deer and the two halves of its body go flying in different directions and its guts get all over the grill, I will be there, in perfect mental faculty to not only drive your car to wherever we were going, but I'll even hose down the bits of intestine and fur from your car, my poor, sweet, sensitive, empathic friend. 
    We are not all terrible. 

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Informative

    I enjoyed this book. I thought it was well-written, in simple language that anyone can understand. I liked the way the author wove her personal experiences into the factual information.

    I found the information both interesting and entertaining. Martha Stout gives us great insight into human nature.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    This is a Must Read!

    Having had first-hand experience over a long period of time with a sociopath, this book really hit home with me. It's absolutely essential that EVERYONE know how to spot one and this book is a great starting point to help you along with that knowledge. Read this book and while you're at it, recommend it to everyone you know.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2011

    Learned so much

    Wow what an informative book, even if you have no psychology background .

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2008

    I wasn't overly impressed

    This book just didn't really do anything for me. It had a bunch of crap most people already know.

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    "The Sociopath Next Door"

    The information in this book is something I feel everyone should know about. I felt that it was not an easy read and a bit confusing at times. The book contains useful information about recognizing the sociopath in everyday society not just the serial killers on the news. You'll be shocked to find out that your idea of a sociopath might not be accurate. And even more shocked to find out that you actually have worked, lived with, or are related to a sociopath.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2005

    A must read if you deal with difficult people!

    I am fascinated by this book and plan to read it again soon. If you work or deal with difficult people who seem to find enjoyment in sabotaging your work and relationships then you will want to read this book immediately. The book is well written and the case studies are both interesting and, at times, chilling.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2012

    Excellent book! Well written!!

    I was blown away before the end of the first chapter and wound up reading the entire book in one sitting! Stout will scare you with her insight and knowledge on this subject... be prepared to see the world in a whole new light!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Superb!

    This is a book for all to read. Informative and applicable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2010

    This book opens your eyes!

    What a way to open your eyes to another world that most people do not understand. I am a Master's student of Psychology and Antisocial Personality Disorder is a complicated world. This book puts it into a perspective that is easy for everyone to understand. My sister is a sociopath, and in order to protect myself from her, I needed to dislodge her from my life. I am able to connect to this book in more ways than one and am constantly recommending it as well as lending it out to people. Definite read!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2009

    Finally! A word to fit this horrible situation!

    When I got married my dear husband assured me that his 30-year marriage to his deceased (from cancer) wife was blissfully happy and normal. When he brought me home to the house they shared, I was shocked! The house screamed of the grossest emotional abuse I have ever seen or heard of. My journey for answers started with narcissism, but this condition doesn't begin to touch the black-hearted evil left here. My mother, for example plays cruel mind games but she has a social conscience. When my cousin feels shame she throws money at somebody, usually blessing their lives. A music teacher at my kids' high school offers his students a talent they can treasure for the rest of their lives. My ex is just a garden variety slug. My husband's first wife, in contrast, destroyed his house, his finances, his family, his personal and professional reputation, his health. And then used the pity play among the church community to make certain that he was blamed for it all. And she dragged 3 of her daughters with her into this pit. They continue to fight the war their mother started, in her blessed name. There are 3 main factors in my husband's life that helped him through this nightmare--a job that takes him out of town frequently, immersion in the practice of our religion and clueless denial. Without any one of these things, he would have been dead long ago, for she truly tried to kill him. The good news is that after only 2 short years after her death he is beginning to feel safe enough to take serious measures to improve his health, and to dig himself out of the junk and garbage she buried him under. And he's remarkably good at defending himself, even though it's all still subconsious. The road to recovery will be very long indeed. But every day shows me, and others, the wonderful gifts hidden inside this man. And he is most definitely worth every step of the journey.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2007

    Disappointing

    The publisher's description of the book was excellent but the author did not live up. The writing was simplistic and virtually the entire book was anecdotes from her practice. There was next to no content on the working of the sociopathic mind or even their societal impact. This was a very disappointing book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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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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