Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Sociopath Next Door: A Book Review

I was recommended this book from a friend to read, so I borrowed it from her and was immediately interested in the subject.  I haven’t read a book like this before, but I definitely thought it was interesting.  Although it isn’t the type of book I usually review, I thought it would still be fun since I personally love to expand my reading genres!

Title: The Sociopath Next Door
Author: Martha Stout
Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology
Publisher: Harmony
Publication Date: January 1, 2006
Pages: 256
Out in Paperback?: Yes; March 14, 2006
My Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Summary:

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. He’s a sociopath. And your boss, teacher, and colleague? They may be sociopaths too.

We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people—one in twenty-five—has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in twenty-five everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.

How do we recognize the remorseless? One of their chief characteristics is a kind of glow or charisma that makes sociopaths more charming or interesting than the other people around them. They’re more spontaneous, more intense, more complex, or even sexier than everyone else, making them tricky to identify and leaving us easily seduced. Fundamentally, sociopaths are different because they cannot love. Sociopaths learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath they are indifferent to others’ suffering. They live to dominate and thrill to win.

The fact is, we all almost certainly know at least one or more sociopaths already. Part of the urgency in reading The Sociopath Next Door is the moment when we suddenly recognize that someone we know—someone we worked for, or were involved with, or voted for—is a sociopath. But what do we do with that knowledge? To arm us against the sociopath, Dr. Stout teaches us to question authority, suspect flattery, and beware the pity play. Above all, she writes, when a sociopath is beckoning, do not join the game.

It is the ruthless versus the rest of us, and The Sociopath Next Door will show you how to recognize and defeat the devil you know.


Although there are no real characters in this book, the author provides several examples for the different scenarios that she touches on.  As she describes that a sociopath is more general that what we tend to think, someone who does not feel shame or guilt, she provides examples that can be seen in everyday life; this can be a little scary, but I did find it helpful and interesting.


This books focuses on teaching the readers how to protect themselves from sociopaths that they may cross in their everyday life.  By recognizing the characteristics and actions of someone who does not feel shame or guilt, one can better avoid them as they can cause an unhealthy relationship to form in one’s life.

Writing Style:

I thought that the writing style was very well done.  As a non-fiction book about psychology, I feared the book would go right over my head or I wouldn’t be able to understand several parts of it.  However, Stout explained her findings very well so that it was able to appeal to all readers.  Also, the examples and scenarios that she gave helped to illustrate her point.

Have you read this book?  If you are interested in psychology, I would definitely recommend it.  Very interesting!

FTC Disclaimer:
All items mentioned were purchased by me.  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.  No affiliate links were used.

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