Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. [Dr.] Stout says that as many as 4% of the population are conscienceless sociopaths who have no empathy or. The descriptions in The Sociopath Next Door do not identify individ uals. At the very heart of psychotherapy is the pre. If a sociopath lives next door, don't go over for coffee. In fact, don't admit to them that you drink coffee, don't talk to them, and for the love of all that's holy, don't.
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The Sociopath Next Door / The Origins of Conscience / TEN. Bernie's Choice: Why Conscience. Is Better / ELEqr I. Groundhog Day / The Sociopath Next Door: book summary & Review. Also available in PDF. PDF - soundofheaven.info In the pages of The Sociopath Next Door, you will realize that your ex was not j. soundofheaven.info Oh Crap!.
But if you're unfortunate enough to have one in the family, or living next door, or work with one, she does suggest some ways to avoid falling prey. Absolute guiltlessness defies the imagination. To create a better world, we need to understand the nature of people who routinely act against the common good, and who do so with emotional impunity. I felt alarmed as I read the book. Not all sociopaths are criminals, but all of them are lacking that conscience that keeps actions and behaviors more or less in check by an underlying compassion for others or simple guilt.
We don't see what's coming -- at least, most of us don't -- until it's too late. They're out to get what they want because they don't have the ability feel any remorse for the injuries they cause Nothing to stop them, since there's no regard for social norms. While Dr. Stout doesn't explicitly say what causes sociopathy, she does suggest that it's a combination of nature and nurture.
I found it a bit frightening to think that there's no real cause -- too much asparagus in early childhood, say, or too many Barney videos.
Sociopaths just seem to crop up, though they occasionally have their uses. They can make excellent soldiers in times of war; people who can kill on the battlefield without feeling guilt after the fact are probably good to have on your side. Without really understanding what causes a sociopath, there's doesn't seem to be much that can be done to cure it.
Can a conscience be instilled in somebody who haven't ever had one? Stout doesn't presume to suggest a cure; she admits that there isn't one, at present, and some cultures actively encourage sociopathic behaviors. It's an interesting book. The background on what conscience is tends to be a bit too wordy, and a bit difficult to wade through, but that may be the nature of the material. It's hard to commit to a singular definition of what a conscience is, even though most of us can describe it.
Stout also doesn't try to explain what can be done to cure or treat sociopathy. What she's done is write a book on how to recognize a sociopath, and how to cope with his or her influence in our lives. The best way, she says, is to avoid them altogether. But if you're unfortunate enough to have one in the family, or living next door, or work with one, she does suggest some ways to avoid falling prey.
The "thirteen rules for dealing with sociopaths in everyday life" are pretty straightforward and easy to understand. Be suspicious of flattery, for example, as it's used at great lengths by sociopaths. Don't be drawn in by pity, also a tool of the sociopath. It feels as though Dr. Stout has written this book out of a quiet anger. She talks of the trauma that a sociopath can inflict, and her experiences with their victims.
As a psychologist and clinical instructor, I imagine that she has an intimate understanding of the sociopath. It gives the narrative an undertone that is more suspected than revealed, making you wonder at the number of people she's worked with over the years.
One criticism of the book, I think, might be that it seems awfully alarmist. The book sounded like there's a real and present danger to each and every one of us not including the sociopaths. I felt alarmed as I read the book. Kind of a "holy cow Everyone around you might be a sociopath! Stout's experiences with trauma victims, and her knowledgeable approach to the subject, I'd have to give her the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like this. Though I haven't been personally victimized by a sociopath, reading the book made it pretty clear that they can be incredibly destructive.
That said, this is probably not the kind of book you want to read on public transit; you'll start to look at your fellow passengers with some concern. Especially if you count twenty-four of them around you.
One of them. Might be. A sociopath. And the one in twenty-five statistic is just that. The Next Frontier The Next Trillion - WordPress. Paul Zane Pilzer's thoughts and why he believes that the next The descriptions in The Sociopath Next Door do not identify individ uals.
At the very heart of psychotherapy is the precept of confiden tiality, and as usual I have Praise for "A fascinating, important book about what 1II. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher.
What Causes Sociopathy? I wish I could go back in time and thank them all, and I take delight in this chance to thank the people who most helped and supported me during the year I wrote The Sociopath Next Door. For her commentary and utter indispensability, and her patience, I thank my friend and colleague Carol Kauffman, she of the legendary creativity at solving problems, whose generosity never skipped a beat, even though she was in the middle of writing Pivot Points.
I thank Diane Wemyss for her caring and her organizing, and for having suggested one of the events I write about, and Elizabeth Haymaker for her charm across the miles.
Once again-and always-I thank my remarkable parents, Eva Deaton Stout and Adrian Phillip Stout, for showing me just how much love and light two people of surpassing conscience can bring to the world. And with awe, and more love than I could have imagined before I knew her, I would like to thank my daughter, Amanda, my first reader and my most insightful one.
She has taught me, among so many other things, that kindness and integrity come with the soul. All names are fictitious, and all other recognizable features have been changed. In these cases, no information has been included that might in any way identify them. The story in the chapter entitled "Groundhog Day" is fiction. Otherwise, the people, events, and conversations presented here are taken from my twenty-five-year practice of psychology.
Any resemblance of such a composite character to any actual person is entirely coincidental. Minds differ still more than faces. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken. Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological. You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness.
M ART H A ST O U T In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world.
You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences, will most likely remain undiscovered. How will you live your life? The answer will depend largely on just what your desires happen to be, because people are not all the same. Even the profoundly unscrupulous are not all the same. Some human beings are brilliant and talented, some are dull-witted, and most, conscience or not, are somewhere in between.
Maybe you are someone who craves money and power, and though you have no vestige of conscience, you do have a magnificent IQ.
When it is expedient, you doctor the accounting and shred the evidence, you stab your employees and your clients or your constituency in the back, marry for money, tell lethal premeditated lies to people who trust you, attempt to ruin colleagues who are powerful or eloquent, and simply steamroll over groups who are dependent and voiceless. You become unimaginably, unassailably, and maybe even globally successful. Why not? With your big brain, and no conscience to rein in your schemes, you can do anything at all.
Or no--let us say you are not quite such a person. Your intelligence is above average perhaps, and people think of you as smart, maybe even very smart. But you know in your heart of hearts that you do not have the cognitive wherewithal, or the creativity, to reach the careening heights of power you secretly dream about, and this makes you resentful of the world at large, and envious of the people around you.
As this sort of person, you ensconce yourself in a niche, or maybe a series of niches, in which you can have some amount of control over small numbers of people. Sometimes you fall into sulky, rageful moods caused by a frustration that no one but you understands.
But you do enjoy jobs that afford you a certain undersupervised control over a few individuals or small groups, preferably people and groups who are relatively helpless or in some way vulnerable. You are a teacher or a psychotherapist, a divorce lawyer or a high school coach. Or maybe you are a consultant of some kind, a broker or a gallery owner or a human services director.
You do this for its own sake, even when it serves no purpose except to give you a thrill. It is fun. And this is power, especially when the people you manipulate are superior to you in some way.
Most invigorating of all is to bring down people who are smarter or more accomplished than you, or perhaps classier, more attractive or popular or morally admirable. This is not only good fun; it is existential vengeance. And without a conscience, it is amazingly easy to do. You can simply murder your coworker, or have her murdered-or your boss, or your ex-spouse, or your wealthy lover's spouse, or anyone else who bothers you. You have to be careful, because if you slip up, you may be caught and punished by the system.
But you will never be confronted by your conscience, because you have no conscience. If you decide to kill, the only difficulties will be the external ones.
Nothing inside of you will ever protest. Provided you are not forcibly stopped, you can do anything at all. If you are born at the right time, with some access to family fortune, and you have a special talent for whipping up other people's hatred and sense of deprivation, you can arrange to kill large numbers of unsuspecting people.
In fact, terrorism done from a distance is the ideal occupation for a person who is possessed of blood lust and no conscience, because if you do it just right, you may be able to make a whole nation jump. And if that is not power, what is?
Or let us imagine the opposite extreme: You have no interest in power. To the contrary, you are the sort of person who really does not want much of anything. You do not want to work like everyone else does. Without a conscience, you can nap or pursue your hobbies or watch television or just hang out somewhere all day long. Living a bit on the fringes, and with some handouts from relatives and friends, you can do this indefinitely.
People may whisper to one another that you are an underachiever, or that you are depressed, a sad case, or, in contrast, if they get angry, they may grumble that you are lazy. When they get to know you better, and get really angry, they may scream at you and call you a loser, a bum.
The panicked feeling of a guilty conscience never squeezes at your heart or wakes you in the middle of the night. For example, if you are a decent observer of people and what they react to, you may adopt a lifeless facial expression, say how ashamed of your life you are, and talk about how rotten you feel.
This you do only because it is more convenient to have people think you are depressed than it is to have them shouting at you all the time, or insisting that you get a: You notice that people who do have a conscience feel guilty when they harangue someone they believe to be "depressed" or "troubled.
If, despite your relative poverty, you 5 M A R T H A S T O UT can manage to get yourself into a sexual relationship with someone, this person-who does not suspect what you are really like-may feel particularly obligated. And since all you want is not to have to work, your financier does not have to be especially rich, just reliably conscience-bound. I trust that imagining yourself as any of these people feels insane to you, because such people are insane, dangerously so.
Insane but real-they even have a label. Many mental health professionals refer to the condition of little or no conscience as "antisocial personality disorder," a noncorrectable disfigurement of character that is now thought to be present in about 4 percent of the population-that is to say, one in twenty-five people. He or she is more spontaneous, or more intense, or somehow more "complex," or sexier, or more entertaining than everyone else.
Characteristically, they can charm others into attempting dangerous ventures with them, and as a group they are known for their pathological lying and conning, and their parasitic relationships with "friends. Once the surface charm is scraped off, their marriages are loveless, one-sided, and almost always short-term.
But what does 4 percent really mean to society? The prevalence rate for anorexic eating disorders is estimated at 3. Put more succinctly, there are more sociopaths among us than people who suffer from the much-publicized disorder of anorexia, four times as many sociopaths as schizophrenics, and one hundred times as many sociopaths as people diagnosed with a known scourge such as colon cancer.
As a therapist, I specialize in the treatment of psychological trauma survivors. Some have been traumatized by natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes and wars, but most of them have been controlled and psychologically shattered by individual human perpetrators, often sociopaths-sometimes sociopathic strangers, but more typically sociopathic parents, older relatives, or 8 T H E S O C I O P AT H N E X T D O O R siblings. In helping my patients and their families cope with the harm done to their lives, and in studying their case histories, I have ' learned that the damage caused by the sociopaths among us is deep and lasting, often tragically lethal, and startlingly common.
About one in twenty-five individuals are sociopathic, meaning, essentially, that they do not have a conscience. It is not that this group fails to grasp the difference between good and bad; it is that the distinction fails to limit their behavior. The intellectual difference between right and wrong does not bring on the emotional sirens and flashing blue lights, or the fear of God, that it does for the rest of us.
But the psychological correspondence is not only there; it is chilling. Simple and profound, the link is the absence of 9 M A R T H A ST O U T the inner mechanism that beats up on us, emotionally speaking, when we make a choice we view as immoral, unethical, neglectful, or selfish.
Most of us feel mildly guilty if we eat the last piece of cake in the kitchen, let alone what we would feel if we intentionally and methodically set about to hurt another person. The presence or absence of conscience is a deep human division, arguably more significant than intelligence, race, or even gender. What distinguishes all of these people from the rest of us is an utterly empty hole in the psyche, where there should be the most evolved of all humanizing functions.
For the most part, it acts like a reflex. Unless temptation is extremely great which, thankfully, on a day-to-day basis it usually is not , we by no means reflect on each and every moral question that comes our way. We do not seriously ask ourselves, Shall I give my child lunch money today, or not? Shall I steal my coworker's briefcase today, or not? Shall I walk out on my spouse today, or not? Conscience makes all of these decisions for us, so quietly, automatically, and continually that, in our most creative flights of imagination, we would not be able to conjure the image of an existence without conscience.
She forgot to give lunch money to her child. That person's coworker must have misplaced her briefcase. That person's spouse must have been impossible to live with. We are keenly interested in how smart we are, and in the intelligence level of other people. The smallest child can tell the difference between a girl and a boy. We fight wars over race. Very few people, no matter how educated they are in other ways, know the meaning of the word sociopathic.
And even after we have learned the label for it, being devoid of conscience is impossible for most human beings to fantasize about. In fact, it is difficult to think of another experience that quite so eludes empathy.
We have all been lost in the dark. We have all been somewhat depressed. Most of us have made the mental list of what we would do with a windfall fortune. And in our dreams at night, our thoughts and our images are deranged.
But not to care at all about the effects of our actions on society, on friends, on family, on our children? What on earth would that be like? What would we do with ourselves? Nothing in our lives, waking or sleeping, informs us.
But even in pain there is guilt. Absolute guiltlessness defies the imagination. We never asked for conscience. It is just there, all the time, like skin or lungs or heart. In a manner of speaking, we cannot even take credit. And we cannot imagine what we would feel like without it.
Guiltlessness is uniquely confusing as a medical concept, too. Quite unlike cancer, anorexia, schizophrenia, depression, or even the other "character disorders," such as narcissism, sociopathy would seem to have a moral aspect. Sociopaths are almost invariably seen as bad or diabolical, even by or perhaps especially by mental health professionals, and the sentiment that these patients are somehow morally offensive and scary comes across vividly in the literature.
A good psychopath can play a concerto on anyones heartstrings. Your best defense is to understand the nature of these human predators. Sociopathy stands alone as a "disease" that causes no dis-ease for the person who has it, no subjective discomfort. Wanting to get better is seldom the true issue. How does one scientifically study a phenomenon that appears to be, in part, a moral one? Should anyone be tested for such a thing in a free society? And if someone has been clearly identified as a sociopath, what, if anything, can society do with that information?
Is sociopathy a disorder at all, or is it functional? Just as unwelcome is the uncertainty on the flip side of that coin: Does conscience work for the individual, or group, who has it? Whether we speak them out loud or not, doubts like these implicitly loom large on a planet where for thousands of years, and right up to the present moment, the most universally famous names have always belonged to those who could - 13 - M A R T H A ST O U T manage to be amoral on a large-enough scale.
On a personal level, most of us have examples from our own lives in which someone unscrupulous has won, and there are times when having integrity begins to feel like merely playing the fool. Is it the case that cheaters never prosper, or is it true, after all, that nice guys finish last? Will the shameless minority really inherit the earth? Such questions reflect a central concern of this book, a theme that occurred to me just after the catastrophes of September 1 1, I, propelled all people of conscience into anguish, and some into despair.
I am usually an optimistic person, but at that time, along with a number of other psychologists and students of human nature, I feared that my country and many others would fall into hate-filled conflicts and vengeful wars that would preoccupy us for many years to come. From nowhere, a line from a thirty-year-old apocalyptic song invaded my thoughts whenever I tried to relax or sleep: I became interested in my particular topic of sociopathy versus conscience during a phone conversation with a colleague of mine, a good man who is normally upbeat and full of encouragement but who was at that moment stunned and demoralized along with the rest of the world.
My colleague was saying how guilty he felt because he was torn apart himself and might not have the usual amount of emotional energy to give to the patient.
In the middle of judging himself, he stopped, sighed, and said to me in a weary voice highly uncharacteristic of him, "You know, sometimes I wonder, Why have a conscience? It just puts you on the losing team.
After a moment, I replied with another question. I said, "So tell me, Bernie. If you had a choice, I mean really, literally had a choice in the matter-which you don't, of course-would you choose to have a conscience like you do, or would you prefer to be sociopathic, and capable of.
There was a pause and then a long, drawn-out "Well.
I just know I'd choose conscience. He sounded slightly less defeated, and we started to talk about what one of our professional organizations planned to do for the people in New York and Washington. A moralist or a theologian might well have answered, "Because it's right, " or "Because I want to be a good person.
I feel strongly that we need to know the psychological reason. Especially now, in a world that seems ready to self-destruct with global business scams, terrorism, and wars of hatred, we need to hear why, in a psychological sense, being a person of conscience is - 15 - M A RT H A S T OUT preferable to being a person unfettered by guilt or remorse.
In part, this book is my answer, as a psychologist, to that question, "Why have a conscience? It is a book for those of us who cannot imagine any other way to live. As a psychologist and as a person, I have seen far too many lives nearly obliterated by the choices and acts of a conscienceless few. To my mind, this dominance over the rest of us by people who have no conscience at all constitutes an especially widespread and appalling example of what novelist F.
Scott Fitzgerald referred to as "the tyranny of the weak. And in our ordinary daily lives, though perhaps not so dramatically, we see the contrasts just as plentifully. Given the radically contradictory behavior we witness every day, we must talk openly about both extremes of human personality and behavior. To create a better world, we need to understand the nature of people who routinely act against the common good, and who do so with emotional impunity. As individuals, people of conscience can learn to recognize "the sociopath next door," and with that knowledge work to defeat his entirely self-interested aims.
At the very least, they can protect themselves and their loved ones from his shameless maneuverings. He needs to keep up a good impression with the more senior members of his firm, which means just about everybody, and he would like to have the first word with these wealthy clients, whose concerns include Joe's budding specialty of estate planning.
He has been preparing his agenda for days because he feels there is a lot at stake, and he very much wants to be in the conference room at the start of the meeting. Unfortunately, the furnace in Joe's town house suddenly stopped making heat in the middle of the night. Freezing and pacing, afraid the pipes would burst, he had to wait for the emergency repairman from the fuel company before he could leave for work this morning.