Down the street, in our workplaces, seemingly under our beds- Harvard Medical Professor Martha Stout’s Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless vs. The Rest of Us sends the reader into a state of frightful paranoia when she mentions that a staggering 1 in 25, 4%, persons is, in fact, a sociopath. A sociopath, as Stout asserts, is a person with the lack of a conscience, thus a person not concerned with the suffering of others, to worry only about itself. She goes on to tell us that, because the rate of sociopaths in our society is so high, we must have already met hundreds without knowing it, due to the elusive and enigmatic nature of this psychological disease.
However, a rational thinker can clearly see the flaws in the conceptions propagated by Stout. Stout states that practically everyone that has ever been mean to us in life, a cheating ex-husband, a humiliating boss, a sadistic gym teacher, are in fact conscienceless sociopaths. She never once states that counter argument that these persons could have such characteristics due to our own schemas and personal perceptions. It might have been us which drove our husbands into the arms of another woman, it could have been us which constantly made mistakes for the boss to point out, it could have been us which wouldn’t shut up in gym class, thus necessitating a copious amount of laps given. One can infer that labeling someone a sociopath is just a method of placing the blame on another for our own shortcomings, which sounds much more probable than the millions of sociopaths suggested by Stout.
Rather than just the content, it is the way in which it is presented that presents a major problem. Take, for instance, the fact that while the introduction to sociopaths occurs in Chapter Two: Ice People: The Sociopaths, the real “meat and potatoes” of sociopathy is unveiled in Chapter 7, with the in-between chapters being less relevant and rather puzzling.
Moving on, any skeptic reading this book would surely have a plethora of questions for the professor. How, exactly, does one come up with the statistic of 1/25 in regards to the ratio of sociopaths to “normal people?” This question is rather baffling because, in the book, Stout states that there are many sociopaths which feign emotion for the sole purpose of progressing in life. How, then, do these people, faking a conscious, admit themselves to being a full-fledged sociopath when they have been lying to themselves and others around them for the bulk of their lives? Stout either did not factor these individuals into her statistical evaluation, which...