Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Charismatic Sociopath!

This review is from: The Sociopath Next Door (Paperback)

Dr. Martha Stout's "The Sociopath Next Door" starts out as a riveting analysis of the part of humanity (4%) that permeates our existence right under our noses. Dr. Stout's case studies of sociopaths as a clinical psychologist gave the book the scientific heft needed for credibility. In describing the traits of sociopaths as charismatic, it helped further my own body of work on Charismatology ("One of the more frequently observed of these traits is a glib and superficial charm that allows the true sociopath to seduce other people., figuratively and literally--a kind of charisma that, initially, can make the sociopath seem more charming or more interesting than most people around him, p. 7)

In part, there could even be a case made that she is describing President Obama as a sociopath on page 93 when she says, "Insidiously, when such a `savior' abducts the normal population to his purposes, he usually begins with an appeal to them as good people who would like to improve the condition of humanity, and then insists that they can achieve this by following his own aggressive plan."

The groundbreaking news comes on page 107, when Dr. Stout reveals the core motivation and warning signs in sociopaths being the need for pity and for people to feel sorry for them. It is pity not fear that sociopaths are after.

However, the scientific pattern established up to this point changed around page 171. "At least 96 percent of us are fundamentally thus (Filled with Conscience). What we will end up doing with the species survival problems created by the other 4 percent (sociopaths) is, at present, unknowable. From this point to the end of the book, it sounded like another person wrote it. Dr. Stout goes to great lengths to vindicate her sense of humanity as well as attempt to convince the 96 percent of the population that having a conscience is better than not having one at all. Her careful analysis seeps into a cacophony of internal dialogue, waxed poetry and girlish innocence. If sociopathy is a combination of biological predilections and environment influences, she makes a better case for sociopaths being born not created through their own choices. Once more, she describes the tragic end to all sociopaths as part of their fate, but feels compelled to warn moral bound individuals of impending doom if these sociopaths are not stopped.

Through Dr. Stout's sermonizing, she loses her sense of objectivity, which turns "The Sociopath Next Door" into an emotional rant by a doctor who claims "End of Times" at the hands of sociopaths. She admits that all humans have the ability and propensity towards sociopathy when humans are perceptually turned into "Its." She uses Osama Bin Laden as an example. Most conscience bound individuals would separate the likes of Osama Bin Laden from the rest of humanity labeling him an "It" and as such rendering any heinous destruction upon him without compunction.

Could a child be born with a heart of gold and the cruelty of the world make his heart grow cold? If so, would the catalyst for becoming a sociopath be marked by the 4 percent of the population who are already sociopathic or the other 96 percent filled with conscience? The numbers alone favor the latter.

The few nuggets revealed in "The Sociopath Next Door" are valuable enough to read the entire book. In this instance, you have to sift through a lot of chaff to get to the wheat.

Edward Brown
Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute

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1 comment:

FlatBar said...

Excellent review of what appears to be an interesting analysis of sociopathy. I knew a sociopath once. Incredibly bright and charismatic. It never occurred to me that sociopathy and charisma were linked, and that the sociopath is seeking pity. That, in itself, is a pity.