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.
I'm not a doctor either, but that is the basic definition.
LOL, yes, sorry. Had a couple of threads open simultaneously and got 'em mixed up. :-(
"Well; they must be born that way so we must afford them special privileges. "
We already do. They can, for instance, drown their children without getting the death penalty.
They're a matched pair.
I recall the 1st time I really heard her, she was doing a bunch of quick calls to Ralk radio shows and called Joe Soucheray's show "Garage Logic". She was talking about how she missed the midwest, and how dissappointed she was that there were no garages at the WH blah blah blah. And I thought "What a phoney". This was right after the election.
My hero ;)
O.J. Simpson, Bill Clinton and (can't recall name - senior moment) the guy who killed his pregnant wife and threw her body in San Francisco bay.
....All perfect candidates.
As long as you're getting up, I could use a beer.
I believe bill is a sociopath, hillary is a devout communist.
LOL. Sociopath. ;-)
Well its the sociopath thread so I can see how you'd think you were on the Couric thread.
Her unroyal lowness, her hideous heinous--bw*tch Shrillery Antoinette de Fosterizer de Machiavelli de Marx de Stalin de Pol Pot de Mao de Castro de Arafart . . . de Sade
is certainly an Olympic class sociopath.
AS well as a traitorous, duplicitous, angry, clueless, demonized, heartless, . . . globalist idiot.
And that's for starters, only.
That is my understanding as well. A psychopath is a highly disordered sociopath. Bundy was a psychopath while Stalin was a sociopath.
In hindsight the psychopath's behavior looks crazy and has strong psychosexual elements to it while sociopath's behavior looks ruthlessly opportunistic and exploitative. Compare Ted Bundy to Jeffery Skilling. Skilling was Id'ed as a sociopathic by his own classmates at HGSB during ethics case studies. Skilling, normally a brilliant student, was baffled by the very moral principles the cases represented.
... blend in to normal society
... 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.
True. Confront them and whoosh. Sad, though, as everybody has been used up and she's alone this holiday season. Even her daughter has vanished.
There is a woman named Yolanda in the North East who is all of the above
Do you happen to remember the source for that?
I'm biting my lower lip, and I have a tear forming. :-(
Damn. Your good. Here's the beer.
I suppose Hitler was just a little misunderstood, but GWB on the other hand...../sarcasm
I hate it when I do that.
How about them being both sociopaths and socialistpaths?
Get two birds (vultures) with one word.
Can't you just picture Bill as a preening Dove or Peacock (that word has a lot of Freudian possibilities re Bill) while Hillary would look like a vulture searching for a carcass for lunch?
As they say, "Birds of a feather crap on everyone".
I'm not a sociopath, I just don't like humans.
Hey did Cheney see this?
That was my exact response. But it hardly seems a coincidence. My guess is that a whole lot of other readers were reminded of Clinton also.
Maybe if more folks were anything other than unthinking sheep, I could find some common ground with them.
For sake of convenience, more than psychological nit-picking, it is best to distinguish sociopaths as "environmentally non-empathetic", and psychopath as being "organically non-empathetic."
For example, psychologists have proven that many people can be "trained" to perform sociopathic behavior; such as with the experiment where subjects were ordered to give increasing electrical shocks even though they apparently caused severe distress, and even death, to the phony test subject.
Entire nations were "trained" to be sociopathic towards "the enemy" nation during times of war, dehumanizing "the enemy" until their suffering and dying meant nothing.
However, this should be distinguished from psychopathic behavior, in which at no time in their lives can the psychopath experience appropriate emotions with relation to others. They are blind to what others are feeling, and can only function in an intellectual capacity in response to others emotions, faking their own emotions as if on cue, like Bill Clinton. False laughter one second and tears the next. Rage manufactured solely for tactical gain.
Blindness is a good comparison, because no matter how you might try and describe something to a lifelong blind person, for them it will remain an abstract, known only by their other senses. Bill Clinton cannot feel anyone's pain. Ever.
Importantly, this is an extreme of psychopathological dysfunction. Like many other things, psychopathology fits onto a bell curve of the degree or extent of the dysfunction. That is, very few people are total psychopaths, a larger number have some psychopathology in their makeup, and very few again may have none at all.
And interestingly, people who have no psychopathological tendencies at all may be just as dysfunctional as a full psychopath. They over empathize with people so much that they become terribly uncomfortable with any discomfort felt by others, or even when they think that others *might* be uncomfortable.
Such people might become agoraphobic, wishing to avoid human contact so as not to feel their pain; or they wish that the government radically oppose violent and unpleasant things, everything, from guns, to winning and losing in children's games.
Ironically, psychopaths can make superb leaders, because they have no hesitation in leading in any direction, to success or failure, ignoring the feelings of their followers. Their decisions are objective, and it is much like working for a machine--there are no emotions to get in the way, and you always know where you stand.
Psychopaths can also perform tasks made onerous by sensitivity to others. They can be effective healers who can inflict great pain necessary for healing. They can nurse addicts who are suffering horribly. They can be the bringers of bad news.
And they can also be dangerous troublemakers and criminals. It varies.