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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review: The Sociopath Next Door

I picked up The Sociopath Next Door during an audible sale. The biggest issue with audio books is that the voice actors reading the book might not be appropriate for the book's topic. This is particularly the case with this book: the actress reading the book read in a calm, gentle, languorous voice, completely at odds with the topic of the book.

The book, obviously, is about sociopaths, but works hard to debunk the typical impression you might have from the media, which is that they're the Hannibal Lector crime committer or serial killer. The reality is, the definition of a sociopath (according to this book), is that the person has no conscience, need, or ability to empathize with other human beings. That means they're free to do anything and everything, and will treat other people as objects or obstacles to achieving their goals.

As you can guess by now, most high level executives and CEOs are sociopaths. And of course, the profit-driven charter of most corporations means that by law, they are require to behave as though they're sociopaths! The book runs through several case studies of actual sociopaths and how they may behave with cruelty towards their peers, their patients, their students, and even their families. Then it goes on to describe the author's theory about how sociopaths may have evolved genetically, and why there are so many more sociopaths in Western societies than there are in Asian societies. This part of the book feels a little iffy --- maybe in the paper or Kindle version of the book there are references to research, but the statistics are that something like 4% of American society are sociopaths, and about 0.5% of Asian societies are sociopaths. There's some speculation about why this is so.

There's a tiny, weak chapter about how to deal with sociopaths if you find yourself in the path of one. I didn't think it had outstanding advice. In any case, the book's short, covers an important topics, especially if the 4% figure is true, and is worth your time. Just get the paperback version unless you enjoy sleeping to the sound of this particular actress's voice.

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