Skip to comments.The Sociopath Next Door
Posted on 12/28/2006 6:11:56 PM PST by Valin
The Sociopath Next Door
by Martha Stout Broadway, 2005 Review by James Pratt on Dec 26th 2006 Volume: 10, Number: 52
If the statistics are correct, one person in twenty-five can be classified as a sociopath. That means that almost all of us have met at least one such person (assuming you are not one yourself). It is on the basis of this chilling fact that Martha Stout has written The Sociopath Next Door. If all of us know at least one such person, then many of us may need the advice she offers on how to handle the sociopath you know, and how to protect yourself from that person.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, a sociopath is a person who lacks the capacity to feel sympathy or compassion for others. They are often described as people who know the difference between right and wrong but don't care. Insofar as they make the distinction between right and wrong, they do so at a purely intellectual level. Otherwise, the only thing that constrains the behavior of sociopaths is the fear of adverse consequences to themselves. In short, they lack what we call a conscience. If there is such a thing as an evil person, the sociopath is the prime candidate for the role. They are charming and ingratiating, but also predatory and utterly ruthless. Thankfully, they have a tendency towards laziness: once confronted they give up easily and move on to the next victim. Once spotted, it's usually fairly easy to get rid of them. Thus, Stout offers what is in essence a "spotter's guide".
First, a terminological point: the words "sociopath" and "psychopath" are for the most parts synonymous. If there is a distinction to be made, it is based mainly on one's theoretical commitments with regard to the etiology of the disorder. Those who describe it as sociopathy tend to believe that its causes are social or cultural, while those who describe it as psychopathy tend to believe in a biological basis for it. Stout seems to fall into the former category, and not only on the basis of her book's title. She leans towards a cultural origin of sociopathy. For example, she contends that although other cultures have such a thing as sociopathic personalities (including the Inuit, who supposedly describe them as kunlangeta, and who traditionally would invite them out hunting and discretely dispose of them), the prevalence of sociopathy in American society seems to be on the increase. However, Stout seems fairly non-committal on this point, and gives due attention to other possible explanations, including biological and developmental ones. Whatever its cause, like most other experts, Stout views sociopathy as an incurable personality disorder.
Remind you of any EX(oh how I love saying that) President? Bill Clinton Did I say that out loud!
"If there is such a thing as an evil person..."
Guess they don't believe in original sin.
Hillary... I am not saying this out of humor I truly believe this, something about her, she seems to feign sympathy but truly only uses it for her own gain.
Had a boss like this once.
Then one in twenty five Presidents should be sociopaths? What are the odds that two within an 8 year span could be so classified and also share the same last name? (Assuming H gets elected.)
I thought a psychopath was dangerously crazy while a sociopath just doesn't like people. It looks like I picked a bad day to practice medicine.
It could be included right next to alcohol, drugs, overweight and AIDS. The list just gets larger.
Enough with the perky already! Are they going to be describing her as perky when she's 70?
You win the prize!! Uh....it's here somewhere.
But, I was thinking as far back as Uncle Teddy. You remember him. The one that dropped the lady in the water and forgot about her.
Oops, sorry. Thought I was on the Katie Couric thread. :-(
I've dealt with a few sociopaths/psychopaths. There is a real inhuman, predatory quality to them. I tend to believe that the cause is biological, rather than cultural in nature.
Bill was the one for the last 25 presidents, and Hil is the one for the next 25 presidents.
The Clintons are the perfect sociopathic storm. Just ask any of their former associates, the live ones, that is.
I think I know more then one. Yikes!
I grew up with a fellow who fit that description. He ended up in jail for murder, and died of hep/AIDS shortly after he got out. Smart, witty, a friend who had my back in more than one brawl but as I grew up I realized that the part of his brain that processed 'right and wrong' and/or the consequences of ignoring same just never, well, worked. Like color blindness or tone deafness. But he was a charming sweet guy that it took a LONG time for most people to associate the person with their actions; no guilt, no shame, perfect ability to lie.
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