Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Sunday Book Review, July 31, 2011: The Sociopath Next Door

Speaking of how to make human psychology come alive in a way that your standard freshman psychology class can never do:
"The Sociopath Next Door," by Martha Stout, Ph.D., tells us that "1 in 25 ordinary Americans secretly has no conscience and can do anything at all without feeling guilty."

And that's just the blurb on the front cover! So, "Who is the devil YOU know?" the cover asks.

The answer: It's probably not every 25th person you and I actually know. Whew! Unless, that is, most of the people we know are CEO's of big corporations, many of whom got to those positions by having no conscience, by stepping on the backs of everyone they could (after kicking them over).

(Does anyone's name come to mind here? What about Rupert Murdoch? And everyone who attained any power in his organizations? What about every CEO of most every major corporation in America? What about half the politicians who have ever leeched off their constituents?)

One problem with reading a book like this is that it brings out our tendency to psychoanalyze everyone we know, maybe even ourselves. Some good things about this book, though, are the discussion of the origins of human conscience, how conscience leads to love, why sociopathy is rare in some countries, and how sociopaths fool us.

"The Sociopath Next Door" is available in paperback at for less than $9.00. While Madame L enjoyed this book, she's on the lookout for a more complete and scholarly look at the subject. This book was more like an outline with some fascinating examples. If you, Dear Reader, are aware of another book that treats this subject more completely, please share it with us!

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