TITLE: The Sociopath Next Door
AUTHOR: Martha Stout, Ph.D.
PUBLISHER: Broadway Books
PUBLISHED DATE: February 8, 2005
To be honest, I don't know exactly what I'd expected to get out of this book. The description seemed fairly ominous... That 1 in 25 people are secretly evil living their lives preying on the guilt and conscience of others is alarming. Couple that with our current political environment, and it seemed like a good idea to read up on seemingly normal people who are able to carry out evil remorseless acts living and working beside you everyday, right under your nose.
This book reads like a mass market paperback thriller. Using psychological theory, anecdotes, and her personal professional experiences - Stout compiles vignettes of the types of sociopaths we are likeliest to meet in our day to day lives. There's Skip...the upper middle class guy with no moral compass who has never had an emotional connection - even to his own parents. Killing and abusing animals as a child, he grows up ruthless and able to manipulate and use violence to have his way. He is the quintessential Lifetime movie villain. Then there's Doreen. A sociopath posing as a clinical psychologist. She has no graduate degree or certification to practice as a medical psychiatrist, yet does so having used sex to manipulate powerful men to give her a recommendation into her career. Doreen is able to connive and manipulate patients and colleagues for more than 25 years. Then there's Luke, a limp mooch who marries and impregnates a middle age woman with a vibrant career for little more than a free place to stay and access to her pool.
Stout's writing is compelling, even if it lacks the typical medical jargon academics and members of the psychology profession may be after. But it sure makes for good leisure reading. Stout makes a case for why human beings need a conscience - hardly a tough sell, if you're reading this book - you probably already grasp that. Stouts provdes a list of ways to identify traits of a sociopath as well as a 13 point plan on how to deal with them. Long story short: avoid them.
Overall, this is a surprisingly enjoyable book, just don't expect to learn anything new. Check out Hillary Knowles' book review - she hated the book!
Hillary Knowles' Book Review
Recommendation: If you want to read a smart psych thriller inspired by Lifetime movies, this might just be the one for you.
Audience: Millennials and Beyond
*I borrowed this audiobook on my library Hoopla account.