Nonfiction / Psychology
If you are a reader of this blog, the title might sound familiar. I originally bought, read, and reviewed this book two years ago. See http://lenoragood.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-sociopath-next-door-by-martha-stout.html for the original review.
At the time I first read the book, it was research for a character I was developing. Turns out, the character is not a sociopath. I am relieved. Well, then, why did I read it a second time? Turns out I now know someone who began to set off warning bells. The bells have become a clamor, so I thought I'd give the book a second go-through.
The book held up well the second time through. One of the things I was quick to notice, I underlined very different passages this second time through. Before I was looking for a fictional character, and general information on sociopathy. This time, I read it with a very specific person in mind.
A sociopath has no conscience. S/He has no empathy, no capacity to love a pet or another human. They are often charismatic in the extreme, which is why they are such good con-men. Often, they have a grandiose sense of self worth, and the world is their oyster. They do not care who they hurt, or how they hurt them. They are here for one reason and one reason only: Domination. They are never, ever, responsible for anything that happens, it is always someone else's fault. If they marry, their spouses are usually somewhat shallow, and considered trophies. They serve one purpose – to make him look better. They have no guilt. Period.
Around 2/3 of the way through the book, Dr. Stout gives us 13 rules for dealing with sociopaths in everyday life. Basically, you don't. But her Rule of three is worth remembering: "One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding instead. Two may involve a serious mistake. But three lies says you're dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of conscienceless behavior. Cut your losses and get out as soon as you can. Leaving, though it may be hard, will be easier now than later, and less costly."
While the first part of the book is downright scary, especially if you think you know one, the last part of the book offers hope. This book is very well written, and her stories/examples could become stand-alone literary works all by themselves. While the sociopath is a pitiful creature, condemned to being alone, never, ever offer them pity. They feed on it, and like a vampire, will suck you dry. In fact, they count on it, and use it against you.
I strongly recommend you buy your own copy, and read it. Even if you don't know anyone you suspect might be a sociopath, you just never know. Besides, there is a lot of good information in here that may come in handy as you travel down life's road.