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The Sociopath Next Door par [Stout Ph.D., Martha]
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4.5 étoiles sur 5 4 commentaires client

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INTRODUCTION
Minds differ still more than faces.
--Voltaire

Imagine--if you can--not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. 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. And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools. Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless. 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. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.

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? What will you do with your huge and secret advantage, and with the corresponding handicap of other people (conscience)? 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 people-- whether they have a conscience or not-- favor the ease of inertia, while others are filled with dreams and wild ambitions. Some human beings are brilliant and talented, some are dull-witted, and most, conscience or not, are somewhere in between. There are violent people and nonviolent ones, individuals who are motivated by bloodlust and those who have no such appetites.

Maybe you are someone who craves money and power, and though you have no vestige of conscience, you do have a magnificent IQ. You have the driving nature and the intellectual capacity to pursue tremendous wealth and influence, and you are in no way moved by the nagging voice of conscience that prevents other people from doing everything and anything they have to do to succeed. You choose business, politics, the law, banking, international development, or any of a broad array of other power professions, and you pursue your career with a cold passion that tolerates none of the usual moral or legal incumbrances. 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 steam-roll over groups who are dependent and voiceless. And all of this you do with the exquisite freedom that results from having no conscience whatsoever.
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. You are ambitious, yes, and in the name of success you are willing to do all manner of things that people with conscience would never consider, but you are not an intellectually gifted individual. 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. These situations satisfy a little of your desire for power, although you are chronically aggravated at not having more. It chafes to be so free of the ridiculous inner voice that inhibits others from achieving great power, without having enough talent to pursue the ultimate successes yourself. 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. Or maybe you do not have a paid position, and are instead the president of your condominium association, or a volunteer hospital worker, or a parent. Whatever your job, you manipulate and bully the people who are under your thumb, as often and as outrageously as you can without getting fired or held accountable. You do this for its own sake, even when it serves no purpose except to give you a thrill. Making people jump means you have power-- or this is the way you see it-- and bullying provides you with an adrenaline rush. It is fun.

Maybe you cannot be the CEO of a multinational corporation, but you can frighten a few people, or cause them to scurry around like chickens, or steal from them, or--maybe best of all--create situations that cause them to feel bad about themselves. 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 quietly lie to the boss or to the boss’s boss, cry some crocodile tears, or sabotage a coworker’s project, or gaslight a patient (or a child), bait people with promises, or provide a little misinformation that will never be traced back to you.
Or now let us say you are a person who has a proclivity for violence or for seeing violence done. 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. With enough money, you can accomplish this from far away, and you can sit back safely and watch in satisfaction. In fact, terrorism (done from a distance) is the ideal occupation for a person who is possessed of bloodlust 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. Your only real ambition is not to have to exert yourself to get by. 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 each other 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. But it will never occur to them that you literally do not have a conscience, that in such a fundamental way, your very mind is not the same as theirs.

The panicked feeling of a guilty conscience never squeezes at your heart or wakes you in the middle of the night. Despite your lifestyle, you never feel irresponsible, neglectful, or so much as embarrassed, although for the sake of appearances, sometimes you pretend that you do. 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 job.

You notice that people who do have a conscience feel guilty when they harangue someone they believe to be “depressed” or “troubled.” As a matter of fact, to your further advantage, they often feel obliged to take care of such a person. If, despite your relative poverty, you 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 four percent of the population--that is to say, one in twenty-five people. This condition of missing conscience is called by other names too, most often “sociopathy,” or the somewhat more familiar term, “psychopathy.” Guiltlessness was in fact the first personality disorder to be recognized by psychiatry, and terms that have been used at times over the past century include “manie sans délire,” “psychopathic inferiority,” “moral insanity,” and “moral imbecility.”

According to the current bible of psychiatric labels, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV of the American Psychiatric Association, the clinical diagnosis of “antisocial personality disorder” should be considered when an individual possesses at least three of the following seven characteristics: (1) failure to conform to social norms; (2) deceitfulness, manipulativeness; (3) impulsivity, failure to plan ahead; (4) irritability, aggressiveness; (5) reckless disregard for the safety of self or others; (6) consistent irresponsibility; (7) lack of remorse after having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another person. The presence in an individual of any three of these “symptoms,” taken together, is enough to make many psychiatrists suspect the disorder.

Other researchers and clinicians, many of whom think the APA’s definition describes simple “criminality” better than true “psychopathy” or “sociopathy,” point to additional documented characteristics of sociopaths as a group. One of the more frequently observed of these traits is a glib and superficial charm that allows the true sociopath to seduce other people, figuratively or literally--a kind of glow or charisma that, initially, can make the sociopath seem more charming or more interesting than most of the normal people around him. He or she is more spontaneous, or more intense, or somehow more “complex,” or sexier, or more entertaining than everyone else. Sometimes this “sociopathic charisma” is accompanied by a grandiose sense of self-worth that may be compelling at first, but upon closer inspection may seem odd or perhaps laughable. (“Someday the world will realize how special I am,” or “You know that after me, no other lover will do.”)

In addition, sociopaths have a greater than normal need for stimulation, which results in their taking frequent social, physical, financial, or legal risks. 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.” Regardless of how educated or highly placed as adults, they may have a history of early behavior problems, sometimes including drug use or recorded juvenile delinquency, and always including a failure to acknowledge responsibility for any problems that occurred.

And sociopaths are noted especially for their shallowness of emotion, the hollow and transient nature of any affectionate feelings they may claim to have, a certain breathtaking callousness. They have no trace of empathy and no genuine interest in bonding emotionally with a mate. Once the surface charm is scraped off, their marriages are loveless, one-sided, and almost always short-term. If a marriage partner has any value to the sociopath, it is because the partner is viewed as a possession, one that the sociopath may feel angry to lose, but never sad or accountable.

All of these characteristics, along with the “symptoms” listed by the American Psychiatric Association, are the behavioral manifestations of what is for most of us an unfathomable psychological condition, the absence of our essential seventh sense-- conscience.

Crazy, and frightening-- and real, in about four percent of the population.

Revue de presse

“A fascinating, important book about what makes good people good and bad people bad, and how good people can protect themselves from those others.”
—Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

“The Sociopath Next Door is a chillingly accurate portrayal of evil--the decent person’s guide to indecency.”
—Jonathan Kellerman

“A remarkable philosophical examination of the phenomenon of sociopathy and its everyday manifestations…Stout’s portraits make a striking impact and readers with unpleasant neighbors or colleagues may find themselves paying close attention to her sociopathic-behavior checklist and suggested coping strategies. Deeply thought-provoking and unexpectedly lyrical.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A chilling portrait of human beings who lack scruples the way someone born blind lacks eyesight…Stout describes respected professionals who tell outrageous lies simply to confuse colleagues… authority figures who deceive, seduce and even murder just to relieve the boredom that is the usual state of the sociopathic mind. A useful—if appalling—guide to help you recognize conscienceless individuals.. [and] a heartening affirmation of the empathic mindset that comes naturally to the vast majority of humans.”
—Martha Beck, O Magazine

“The Sociopath Next Door  is a chillingly accurate portrayal of evil–the decent person’s guide to indecency. Martha Stout draws upon sound scientific data and clinical experience and her writing is graceful and compelling.”
—Jonathan Kellerman, author of Therapy, When the Bough Breaks, and Monster.

“[Stout] provides provocative discussion about the role of conscience in the ‘normal’ world. Highly recommend.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“One in 25 Americans is a sociopath–no conscience, no guilt. It could be your mean boss or your crazy ex. [The Sociopath Next Door] is an easy-to-follow guide for spotting them.”
Newsweek

“I recommend this book, especially to those who think they may be vulnerable to sociopaths. It contains good stories, useful advice and clinical and scientific nuggets.”
Washington Post

Winner of the 2005 Books for a Better Life Award

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2642 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 256 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 076791581X
  • Editeur : Harmony (8 février 2005)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B000FCJXTC
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Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Ce livre est écrit à l'américaine, avec des exemples , une écriture fluide et prenante. Il décrit bien les comportements de sociopathes, s'intéressant surtout à ceux qui n'ont pas en plus de ces caractéristiques, la soif de sang qui génèrent les tueurs en série. Il s'agit de la personne qui, dans notre entourage, pourra nous détruire avec une froideur glaciale, pour le plaisir de se sentir puissant, par besoin de carrière ou autre motivation "socialement acceptée". Je n'en suis qu'à la moitié, mais il semble que à la fin, cela nous donnera des clés pour se gérer face à de telles personnes, ou bien pour de telles personnes de se reconnaître et d'apprendre que leur impression d'être au-dessus des autres relève d'un trou dans leur personnalité.

Ce qui rend ce livre si intéressant, c'est que l'auteur donne (par touches) une dimension sociale à ce trouble mental, expliquant comment il permet à ce genre de personne qui en plus on une bonne intelligence (ce qui n'est pas le cas de tous), d'accéder aux postes de pouvoir. Nous sommes nous mêmes (non sociopathes) de temps en temps sans conscience, suivant les conditions physiques, morales ou environnementales que nous traversons.

Bref, ce livre me fait réfléchir en plus qu'il m'apprend, c'est donc un "j'adore". Pourquoi pas 5 étoiles? Parce que les exemples me paraissent parfois trop longs, mais , comme je lis beaucoup, je sais souvent ce qui va se passer dans quatre phrases. Donc, je recommande sans réserve.
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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 things, scheming, and manipulative. The more I got to know him, the less I wanted to know about him. His constant scheming was eventually too much to handle, and we were forced to cut all personal ties with him.

All along I was wondering what is it that made Steve act in the way that he did. A few years ago I came across an article on Wikipedia on psychopathy, and that’s when things finally started making sense. It turns out that psychopaths/sociopaths are actually very common in the society at large. Most of them are not Hannibal Lectors of Hollywood’s imagination. They are not serial killers, nor are the majority of them necessarily physically violent. All of them, however, have one main thing in common: they wreak havoc on almost all lives that they touch. Most disturbingly, there are surprisingly many of them around: one to four percent in the US, depending on how rigorous your classification criteria are.

“The Sociopath Next Door” is in many ways the best book on sociopaths/psychopaths that I’ve read. What distinguishes it from many other similar books is its very practical and applied approach. Furthermore, Martha Stout is an excellent writer in her own right and this is an eminently readable, even literary, book.
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This book is a really good read. Informative and entertaining, it introduces difficult concepts in an easy to understand way. I would recommend it to anyone interested in understanding psychopathic behaviour.
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ouvrage pilier pour tout et chacun, infusion de science, savoir vivre, observation, tout pour se protéger et avoir une vie saine
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5 1.414 commentaires
1.247 internautes sur 1.287 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This book is your "vaccination" or "insurance policy" against sociopaths - a must read! 17 décembre 2005
Par Groovy Vegan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I've written many five-star reviews, but never have I been so motivated to try to convince everyone to read the book. Here's why: one in twenty-five Americans is a sociopath, a figure psychologist Martha Stout obtained from three journal articles and a U.S. government source. Assuming this premise of The Sociopath Next Door is correct, or even if the figure is say one in 50, odds are you know at least one sociopath. He or she could be an abusive partner, the person in the next cubicle at work, your landlord, or the person your teenager is dating. Even if you can't think of sociopath you know, you have high odds of encountering one. Given the havoc even one sociopath can wreak in one's life, this book provides a sort of insurance that you'll be able to identify him or her and deal with that person so they don't harm you emotionally, financially, or in any other way. This is a well-written and well-researched book that I think will benefit the 96% of you who are not sociopaths.

To gain the benefits of "sociopath insurance" there are three portions of the book I believe are crucial for you to read: (1) the discussion of what is a sociopath along with her stories illustrating the different types of sociopaths, (BTW, those stories would make fine literary short stories with Stout's descriptive language and suspense building.) (2) Stout's "Thirteen Rules For Dealing With Sociopaths in Everyday Life", and (3) the discussion of how good people with consciences end up allowing sociopathic leaders to rise to power and do horrific acts. If you read just these sections and skip all the philosophical discussions about sociopaths, you will still gain a lot from this book.

One of the first topics covered is what a sociopath is. Stout gives us both the official diagnostic version from the American Psychiatric Association's DSM IV (their diagnostic manual) as well as a sort of "street guide" of what to look for. Essentially, a sociopath will glibly lie, charm and use others, without a moment's remorse over hurting anyone. They're often, but not always, more charismatic, charming and sexy than the average person. Take murderer Scott Peterson for example (although Stout didn't mention him): Women found him quite attractive and charming, and were quick to believe his lies. Most sociopaths are not murderers, (soley because they don't want to get caught and go to prison) but will still wreak havoc lying, stealing, and manipulating people.

After learning how to identify sociopaths, Stout's "Thirteen Rules for DealingWith Sociopaths in Everyday Life" (p.156 - 162) are a MUST-READ and worth the price of the book. All the rules are important. To paraphrase several: Rule 2 - If your gut tells you a person is untrustworthy, even if it's in contrast with their high standing in society such as a doctor or community leader, go with your gut feeling. Rule 3 is the "Rule of Threes." If a person breaks one promise, it may be a misunderstanding. If they break two, there may be a serious mistake. But if they break three promises, you're dealing with a liar. Strike three they're out-count your losses and leave ASAP. Stout advises "do not give your money, your work, your secrets, or your affection to a three-timer." Rule 8 states, "The best way to protect yourself from a sociopath is to avoid him, to refuse any kind of contact or communication." Remember that sociopaths, like leopards, don't change their spots.

One other MUST-READ section of the book is the discussion on how good people allow sociopaths to rise to positions of authority and to do bad things. To understand this, Stout explains the Milgram experiment which began in 1961 - 62. I won't describe the experiment here, but if you're not familiar with it, I strongly encourage you to google "Milgram experiment" and read about it. As a psychology major in the 1980s, I watched footage of this experiment, which was so powerful, I remember it like it was yesterday. Stout's discussion of the Milgram experiment will show you how the public can all too easily be swayed by people in authority such as charismatic leaders and demagogues. Reading this discussion will help you understand why Rule #4, "Question Authority" is not just an old hippy slogan, but crucial.

Much of the rest of the book contains all sorts of interesting, well-reasoned discussions on many facets of sociopathy: Do sociopaths know they're sociopaths? Is sociopathy caused by heredity, environment or both, and if both, to what extent each? What are the theories of sociopathy from clinical psychology, evolutionary psychology and theology? Given sociopaths never feel guilty, do they have happier lives than the rest of us? (Stout's answer is a resounding "no!") Why do some cultures have (or appear to have) more sociopaths than others? One great thing about these discussions is that Stout doesn't immediately come out and tell the reader what she thinks. Instead, she firsts asks probing thought questions as if you were a student in one of her classes, encouraging you to reason these issues out for yourself. She always gives her opinion by the end, however. These discussions answered most of my questions about sociopaths (and created some new ones!), but was not the most valuable part of the book for me.

Bottom Line: I wish everyone would read this book, particularly people in the dating world meeting strangers. If you always remember on the front burner of your brain that about 4% of people are sociopaths and follow the 13 rules, you're far less likely to be hurt by them.
676 internautes sur 719 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Lyrical, engaging, astonishing and useful book. 9 février 2005
Par James A. Nathan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Stout writes with striking lyric sensitivity and grace about those who have no ability to feel love, remorse, guilt, or joy. Oddly these are some of the most engaging people we will ever meet. Sociopaths, Stout tells us, are as ordinary as a virus. An intimate association with a sociopath carries its own warranty of being a party to a train wreck. Sociopaths can feign every kind of emotion; yet they know but feral pleasures. Sociopaths find rewards in the hunt. Their joys are in conquest and winning. They understand love, but can't feel it. Hence, sociopaths are condemned like the Flying Dutchman of legend to cruise the shoals of real emotion as distant observers, never finding the safe harbor of family, lasting friendship, or love. Stout's work is especially useful for victims. Those who have experienced a sociopath-- a neighbor who seems to thrive on a campaign of sabotaging our relationships and those of our children, a family member who never feels remorse, a boss who takes odd pleasure in demeaning workers and takes credit for our best ideas, a lover who can never be wholly pleased, but works instead to bedevil-- will recognize Stout's finely etched portraits. From this riveting book we can now know the distressing ordinariness of our experience. There is always comfort in finding a name for what is rightfully seen as an unsettling; or, as it is in some sociopathic iterations ---[eg, the Ted Bundys of the world]-- a terrifying encounter. For the rest of us, this book is a graceful, haunting, and carefully crafted admonition that evil is all too common; and it is carried within those charming, bright, accomplished, seductive, and dangerous people we all know, or will. Stout's effort is a stunning literary achievement: a seamless blend of moral philosophy and science rendered into a uniquely accessible, compelling, and useful handbook for our times.
326 internautes sur 349 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The evil among us... 23 avril 2007
Par C. Middleton - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
This text is a lucid study of those individuals who seem to be born without a moral conscience, and as Stout elegantly points out throughout this narrative, one in twenty-five Americans are considered sociopath, causing havoc, heartache, destroyed careers, and the death of many people either directly or indirectly.

The single argument in this highly accessible thesis, the one that is down-right astonishing, (though not so after reading the reasons why) is that most of us "instinctively" know when there is a sociopath in our midst, but more often refuse to intellectually or rationally call them for what they are...why? The reason is that we would prefer to believe that the human being is fundamentally good, and pure evil is something rare or something beyond our day to day reality. On the contrary, there are people who move through their lives without a hint of guilt for their acts of harm.

The sociopath's motivation is ultimately selfish and life for them is one big game, a contest about winning at any cost. This is a frightening notion, but after reading this book, you will more than likely recognize someone in your past or currently in your life that has all the characteristics of a sociopath, and come to understand how and why your life is not the way it should be going and the reason for your general unhappiness.

Martha Stout's "composite" case histories are enlightening as she presents us with varied `types' of sociopaths from the homicidal & verbally abusive to the dead beat and covert destroyer of many lives.

One of the more interesting sociopath profiles is the case of "Dr." Doreen Littlefield, a psychologist working at a reputable hospital. Doreen isn't beautiful but has a good body and uses it to her advantage. She is the type of sociopath with a highly covetous nature, willing to annihilate any person that has some thing she doesn't have and desires. Manipulative, dishonest and cunning, Dr. Littlefield interferes with another doctor's handsome patient because the patient is good looking and her colleague is one of the star psychologists on staff. She deliberately caves the patient in, sending him off to the padded cell to simply make her fellow psychologist look bad. Other deceptions, of course, are planted carefully in order to hide her tracks. However, in the end, it is truly shocking that a person would engage in such immoral behaviour without feeling a shed of guilt.

Plainly stated and argued gracefully, the sociopath does not possess an aspect which most people have that make us legitimately human, and that is an actualized conscience - a voice, a feeling that guides us to do the right action, and not hurt our fellow human beings...

What is also extremely helpful is the chapter "Thirteen Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths in Everyday Life."

The Sociopath Next Door is a text for just about anyone interested in how evil, real evil operates and how to deal with them.
74 internautes sur 78 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Naysayers didn't get it. 19 novembre 2010
Par Sean F. Keating - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Sometimes, it is useful to go directly to a couple of 5-star, then 1-star reviews. I have some background in the psych field, and a graduate degree, so critical thinking is rather routine for me, and it is interesting to see how others received it. My friend loaned me this book, and her boyfriend loaned it to her. I have now recommended it to a couple of people I care about who may be in contact with a like situation.
In business school, we had a discussion more than once on what characteristics makes for a great leader. It would surprise most to find that of the Fortune 500 CEO's, a far greater number are sociopathic than the average for the US population. It also applies to many other positions of power throughout society. A sociopath is not, by itself an evil thing. People are in fact capable of adherence to a good moral code, without personal emotional connection, and they demonstrate this all the time.
Having said all that, those who judged this book 1-star either read only reviews, or cannot actually summarize the intent and content of this book. It is certainly not junk, but its message can be misapplied left and right. One need not be a Nazi or a freak to abuse the concepts contained in Ms. Stout's work. I think the purpose of this book is really to inform people who have had some contact with people who are sociopathic AND destructive. I would like for her to have started with a simple disclaimer: a little bit of knowledge can be more dangerous than none at all. DO NOT read these abnormalities into everyone you dislike, have some conflict with or lost out to. Disagreeable people are not necessarily messed up in this manner.
As for this book being "garbage" (1 reviewer said so), I must point out that the DSM-IV spells out very clearly this and many other personality disorders and illnesses. The statistic of 4% is drawn from a long history of academic research and government data, including many well respected efforts of the military agencies that study civilian populations (PsyOps, for one). You will find (should you care to research it) that several other disorders have similar distributions in our society; some are very destructive and follow a very predictable pathology or have very clear etiology.
I found this to be a very well written discussion , although I was a bit put off by the appeal to paranoia. Sadly, some will see it as the ultimate guide to those we dislike, fear or have been harmed by. That, it is not. Most important, I think, is that labels are dangerous. One who is truly sociopathic can be very toxic. However, many more people have 1, 2 or 3 traits and are not, by definition sociopathic. They are just lousy human beings. One man I know fits the definition, but loves and cares for animals. He, and many other such crummy people are just misanthropists.

Take this book under advisement and use some of its guidance to your betterment; do not elevate it to a religion, or let its message become your very own illness.
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 A mixed bag 14 janvier 2008
Par Cookbook Gal - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This book is really a mixed bag. In the plus column, the author's anecdotes and statistics are tremendously useful when it comes to identifying these people in your life. She explains that the overwhelming majority of sociopaths are NOT Ted Bundy serial killer types, just extremely successful parasites, uncannily adept at seeking out the vulnerable, or at disabling common sense in others. She explains that they can be very difficult to identify, but notes that if she had to pick one consistent warning sign, it would be that they play the victim card very early, hoping to stir up sympathy and compassion. The author also advises us not to engage sociopaths or to think that we can beat them at their own game. By definition, they lack the conscience that may inhibit the behavior of non-sociopaths.

The problems with the book: the author keeps scratching the surface, chapter after chapter, and I found myself wishing she would have gone just a bit more in-depth, instead of simply relating anecdotes. As another reviewer mentioned, she also criticizes the military, and the West as a breeding ground for sociopaths, in comparison to the East. One wonders if she ever heard of Mao, Pol Pot, etc. I don't recall seeing any scientific support for these broad-based assertions, and she would have been better served to leave her political and social biases out of this book, and kept her eyes on the ball.
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