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The Sociopath Next Door

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  23,410 Ratings  ·  1,927 Reviews
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? T
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 14th 2006 by Harmony (first published January 1st 2005)
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Matthew Very practical. I bought this book to learn about myself.. or more accurately, with the hopes that it was NOT about myself. I've done my share on…moreVery practical. I bought this book to learn about myself.. or more accurately, with the hopes that it was NOT about myself. I've done my share on unconscionable acts, and wondered how closely I would mirror Dr. Stout's example patients. I'm very happy to report that I am not a sociopath! :)

I feel like this book is really two books in one. The first, is a professional (but very readable for a layperson like me) description of what a sociopath is, along with stories about some of her patients. The last few chapters, however, is about human conscience in general. What is it? Where did it come from? Is it better to have a conscience which can limit us (in the sense of power and materialism), or to be unbound by the moral constraints which the majority of us adhere to. She could (and maybe should) easily devote an entire book to these last topics!(less)

Community Reviews

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May 27, 2012 rated it did not like it

What I liked about this book: It is very well written. Dr. Stout’s ghostwriter is exceptionally gifted and the book has a delightfully brisk pace, very clear language, and (mostly) smooth transitions.

Its substance, however, is cartoonish pop psychology masquerading as information. It draws its popularity from the same source as the The Da Vinci Code, under-informed, uncritical readers with a penchant for sensationalism; mostly [redacted]. In the hands of its int
Bill  Kerwin
Jan 03, 2009 rated it liked it

An entertaining and informative book, the thesis of which is that the conscienceless among us are not restricted to the serial killers, CEO's, lawyers and politicians among us, but may also be teachers, doctors, nurses, clergy--anyone who is impervious to the bond of love and cares about nothing but power and the ability to manipulate other people.

They are but 4% of the total population--1 in 25--and the principal comfort the rest of us can take is not only that we outnumber them but also that
Petra Eggs
Oct 07, 2008 rated it did not like it
Somehow or other this review lost it's original story. I don't know how, so I'm putting it in. Not so much because it is a review of the book (it isn't) but because I never want to forget it, I want to set it down. Living next door to a sociopath is terrible, one of the worst things you an imagine. I want to remember it properly and this was the story.

The part of the review that remains is the end story that led up to the finale as it were, that I wrote at the time it was happening. So I've lef
Jul 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This book has sparked more re-evaluation by me than any other book I've read for quite some time. The good news is that 96% of people have a conscience. The bad news is that 4% don't, and they can be a real problem, especially because their destructiveness may go undetected for some time. The author postulates that conscience is based on the ability to have emotional attachment to other people. Sociopaths are incapable of such attachments. They see other people as objects which are to be dominat ...more
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psycology
There's a whole lot of fear mongering going on here.

The Sociopath Next Door, I'd give it 2.5. I keep going back and forth between 2 and 3 stars. According to Martha Stout, just about everyone knows a few sociopaths.......DUH. I know two people for sure that I used to work with....they were chilling. I may even be related to one. But the author gets a little dramatic. Yes, these people are ruthless, they don't care about anyone's feelings (they really don't have many of their own). But if you ke
Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If given the opportunity to read a text about sociopathy and its prevalence, don't bother reading Stout's work. Instead, read "Without Conscience" by the psychologist Hare. Hare's work on sociopathy is notable in the field, and after reading it, you will be shocked to notice that entire sections of "The Sociopath Next Door" appear to be lifted from "Without Conscience," slightly reworded, and placed into the text. "The Sociopath Next Door" is still an interesting book, but it is at best a 'see s ...more
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of things brain-related, Hare's Without Conscience, true crime and psychological thrillers

Two aspects of this book are noticeably fitting from the start: its cover design and its title. The cover’s zoomed-in focus on three pairs of eyes has significance that's unclear until many pages in, a significance that no doubt will startle and intrigue. As for the title, it might sound somewhat melodramatic, but it underscores one of Stout’s most important points; if there’s one thing she wanted to make very clear it’s that sociopaths (sometimes called “psychopaths”; psychiatr
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
You know that neighbor of yours who ignores you when you say hello to him in the hall? Well, he might not be just a garden-variety jerk -- he may be A SOCIOPATH!! In fact, four percent of the United States' population is composed of sociopaths. You know what this means, don't you? TROUBLE!!

That might as well be the flap copy of Martha Stout's book, which doesn't seek to enlighten so much as to inflame. Stout throws out a lot of scary-sounding statistics cobbled together with some vaguely philoso
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julie by: Mom!
Wow--4% of those around us are...sociopaths! Don't read this book if you have a tendency to be paranoid. I'm now looking around me now wondering, "Is SHE a sociopath? Is HE?"

A sociopath is someone without conscience (in short, they cannot love or attach value to other living things). One WITH conscience cannot fathom what this might even be like, and "sociopath" seems like such an extreme label, so the non-sociopaths rarely identify sociopaths as sociopaths ("we" make excuses for their questiona
Dino-Jess ✮ The Book Eating Dinosaur ✮
Let's get this out of the way - I find the idea of sociopathy (some call it psychopathy, others call it anti-social personality disorder) infinitely fascinating. The fact that some people can go about their lives with the inability to love, the inability to form emotional attachments and a pure and total lack of empathy for their fellow man is as interesting as it is terrifying.

In practice, sociopathy is a scary thing. I have a feeling I have crossed paths with more than one sociopathic person
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: non-sociopaths
This is a good, though somewhat light (being intended for the pop-psych crowd) description of just what a sociopath is, what makes them tick, how to recognize them, and how to avoid them. It's not full of gruesome crimes or case studies, because Stout's key message is that sociopaths, for the most part, are not psychotic serial killers. They are seemingly ordinary people who can live ordinary lives fooling most everyone around them. And if you do realize that someone is a sociopath, there isn't ...more
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favorites, psychology
Let me begin by saying, I'm not a psychologist and honestly, I know very little about it. I took two psychology classes in college years ago and that's about the extent of my knowledge. I did, however, love this book. It was comprised mostly of case studies and Dr. Stout's 25 years of experiences dealing with clients who have been affected and harmed by sociopaths in their lives. It discusses how manipulative, deceitful, charming, personable and fake a sociopath can be and the lengths one would ...more
Nov 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
In a reprehensible mix of lowest common denominator psychology, fear-mongering, and insultingly juvenile "real life" examples, Martha Stout explores the claim that one in every 25 people is a sociopath in The Sociopath Next Door. If the conceit of the book isn't enough to send you packing, be prepared to sit through poorly supported claims, Intro to Psychology theorizing, and unbelievable religious moralizing toward the people who Stout describes simply, and without much extroplation, as those c ...more
May 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
I wish that every mood, developmental, personality and every other kind of disorder catalogued by those wonderful folks over at the DSM had a book written about it the way sociopathy does. I'd like to read like a billion page DSM where every single disorder had a nice book like this under its heading. First on my wishlist would be borderline personality disorder. Then Aspberger's.

In fact this book, writing-quality-wise, is sort of on the level of a stretched-out Newsweek article, maybe. Yeah, a
Will Byrnes
The author asks “Why have a conscience?” She argues that being truly human entails having one, and warns the majority of us about the four percent of people who are sociopaths. This is a chilling book. I have met people who fit her description. One need not be a serial killer to be a sociopath. One needs only to be immune to caring about the humanity of others.

P 3
It chafes to be so free of the ridiculous inner voice that inhibits others from achieving great power, without having enough talent
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Sociopath Next Door
by Martha Stout

A few months ago I was given the opportunity to read “The Sociopath Next Door” and before doing so I chose to look it up on Goodreads, to see what my fellow readers thought of it. The reviews were not encouraging. I looked elsewhere for something to read. Then, a few days ago a family member bought the audio book version (from iTunes), and I had nothing else to listen to while gardening. I’m deeply glad that fate intervened.

I can completely understand why p
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A familiar stranger came into my life last year... he pulled one after another of the power games Stout details in her book... at first I could not even open this book, recommended to me by my physician, because it was eerily and creepily too real for me. Once I did though, I couldn't put it down. Martha Stout describes this kind of person (and the individual I knew) so thoroughly that it is altogether frightening. I did not believe such people exist... now I know first hand that they do. Review ...more
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emtiaj by:
Shelves: english
সামারি টাইপ, পুরোটাই সপয়লার। এই বই পড়ার নযুনতম আগরহ থাকলে এটা পড়বেন না।

“What is important to you in your life? What do you want more than anything else?” I thought he might say “getting money,” or “staying out of jail,” which were the activities to which he devoted most of his time. Instead, without a moment's hesitation, he replied, “Oh, that's easy. What I like better than anything else is when people feel sorry for me. The thing I really want more than anything else out of life is people's pi
Aug 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Like Hare's book this one focuses more on the examples rather than actual reasons and scientific explanations. A pity, but as both books state the reasons behind psychopathy are mostly unknown so maybe one shouldn't expect too much.
The culture-point was intriguing but it wasn't explored enough, the exploration of the importance of our conscience was rather interesting as well.

I'd recommend to read it in combination with Hare's book (read this one after Hare's). They are similar, or rather this
Darth J
I found this book to be fascinating. I originally picked this book up as part of my research for a novel, but I didn't expect to be so entertained by it. It's a sad truth that statistically one in 25 people you will meet in life is a sociopath (per the book), and I have found that to be somewhat accurate as I've met two truly conscienceless people in my life. While I wouldn't say this is the only book on the subject, it definitely made for an engaging read.
May 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: quit
Uh I'm quitting this book. A lot of it is just very "no duh." Maybe I'M a sociopath but I don't give a shit about this book anymore
Lauren Cecile
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
On the level of a Lifetime movie.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it liked it

Well, this book is certainly readable; it manages to avoid the dry, academia-laden style that many of these Pop-Psychology books brings to to the table.

Beyond that, I've not much to say about it; despite the lurid title ("Ruthless vs the Rest of us"? REALLY?), it's not particuarly "Alarmist", per se, but it does encourage readers (some of whom would presumably be lay-people like me) to judge their immediate circles, and ascribe qualities or issues to these people that are not necessarily there.
May 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A valuable piece of information to possess in today's world. These people operate on a level of cunning and deception that normal people would not even consider. It's important to know that there are among us those who have no soul and do not make decisions based on anyone's feelings but their own. If you don't think that way, you don't suspect them. And they are masters at being charming, helpful, generous and sensitive while they are figuring out where you are vulnerable. Then... POW! You say ...more
Polly Trout
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
I definitely recommend this book, but it also left me with more questions than answers, and there were some elements of her argument that frustrated or troubled me. A sociopath (also called a psychopath, or somebody diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder) is a person without conscience, someone who cannot feel love, remorse, or shame. Roughly 4% of Americans can be diagnosed as sociopaths. Stout is a respected researcher and clinical practitioner, and although this is a brief, popular in ...more
Bojan Tunguz
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
For many years we’ve been friends with this guy whom I’ll call Steve. Steve is an upstanding member of the community, has a picture-perfect All-American family, a respectable job, and a wide circle of friends. He comes across as charming and very friendly, and seems to be very eager to help and please those around him. However, after getting to know him just a little bit better all these aspects of Steve’s life appear to be an act. Steve is in fact extremely competitive even over the dumbest thi ...more
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
"The Sociopath Next Door" delivers both good and bad news.

The good news is, not all sociopaths are violent murderers or serial killers. The bad news is, you probably know a sociopath. Maybe even more than one.

By some estimates, as many as 1 in 25 people have this mental aberration, making them impervious to the pain or the feelings of others. Sociopaths have no ability to feel pity, empathy, guilt, or love. Sociopaths are completely devoid of conscience.

How to spot them? Well now, that's the tr
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this book last month to help me be able to identify people who will try to hurt me.

That sounds paranoid!

I deal with the near-public on an almost continuous public, however, and that "public" quickly becomes the group of folks I deal with every day of the week. I have to work with them closely, I have to try to teach them, and I end up living with them in my head for those seven days of the week.

It's not the best thing for me to do, but it is what happens. They pop up in my mind.

At the e
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a useful book that can explain anti-social personality disorders in a straightforward way that a layman can understand. It's short and I've used this information to in turn derive specific examples in explaining sociopathy to others. Everyone should read this because you will recognize those puzzling people you've wondered, "What the..." because their behavior didn't make sense, their motives seemed unclear and therefore were confusing. Sociopaths do not run on the same logic ...more
Emma Sea
I guess with the book being nine years old now I shouldn't be surprised that there was little in here I hadn't read elsewhere. The 13 rules for for dealing with a sociopath in your life was the best part (pp. 156-162), but I also appreciated Stout's description of the different ways in which sociopathy can manifest.
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Author and Ph.D. in psychology.
More about Martha Stout...

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“I am sure that if the devil existed, he would want us to feel very sorry for him.” 101 likes
“A part of a healthy conscience is being able to confront consciencelessness. When you teach your daughter, explicitly or by passive rejection, that she must ignore her outrage, that she must be kind and accepting to the point of not defending herself or other people, that she must not rock the boat for any reason, you are NOT strengthening her prosocial sense, you are damaging it--and the first person she will stop protecting is herself.” 70 likes
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