The Sociopath Next Door by Dr. Martha Stout


The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout, 2005

My favorite quote: “If, instead, you find yourself often pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100 percent that you are dealing with a sociopath.”

Most interesting characters: The Sociopath Next Door is a work of non-fiction, so really, the only “characters” in it are the author, Martha Stout, and of course, the sociopaths whose names have been changed for purposes of privacy. That said, there are some extremely interesting people in these pages. Interesting and terrifying

Opening scene: Martha Stout opens The Sociopath Next Door by asking you, the reader, to imagine what it would be like to have no conscience, no sense of right or wrong — to be able to do anything you wanted and suffer no remorse. How much differently would you live your life if you were completely free of those internal restraints? 

The gist: In The Sociopath Next Door, Dr. Martha Stout describes the character traits of the sociopath, breaking them down from those of the violent homicidal persuasion to the more common criminal type and, of course, the lesser blue and white collar sociopaths that you may be working with, living with, or even sleeping with … (seriously, it’s creepy to know some of this stuff)

Greatest strengths: The Sociopath Next Door is an intelligent but accessible read, and Martha Stout makes it very easy for readers to determine the signs and traits of sociopaths. I’ve never read a more compelling book on the subject 

Standout achievements: The Sociopath Next Door changed the way I look at the world. It’s one of those books that, once read, immutably shifts your perception. Martha Stout has written a few other books on the subject but I’m a little afraid to seek them out 

Fun Facts: The Sociopath Next Door has directly informed every psychopathic character I’ve ever written, from Gretchen VanTreese in The Crimson Corset, to Priscilla Martin in the Thorne & Cross novel, Mother. Without knowing it, Martha Stout has given me (as well as my collaborator, Tamara Thorne) a veritable treasure trove of nastiness to mine. Every writer should read The Sociopath Next Door. Not even kidding 

Other media: N/A

Additional thoughts: According to Martha Stout, one in every twenty five people in America are without a conscience. I’ve read numerous statistics that contradict this number — most of them placing that number much lower. It’s likely there isn’t an exact way to measure such a thing. I’m inclined to believe that everyone’s level of conscience is at a different place on the spectrum — some have high levels of it and others have very little or none at all. I’m not sure it’s as black-and-white as we want to think it is, but in The Sociopath Next Door — which I recommend to anyone who can read — Martha Stout definitely makes a compelling argument for her one in twenty five theory

Hit or Miss: Hit

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Read The Sociopath Next Door

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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