Has it ever crossed your mind that you were a sociopath or someone you knew was? The definition of a sociopathy according to Stout is someone who is completely free of internal restraints and unhampered liberty to do just as they please, without conscience. After reading The Sociopath Next door by Martha Stout and analyzing the four tragic cases, I was able to break them down and apply the knowledge from Stout to understand the behavior and mental thought process of those individuals.
According to Stout, an individual must have at least three of the following symptoms in order to fall under antisocial personality disorder; irresponsibility, impulsivity, lack of remorse, manipulativeness, aggressiveness, reckless disregard of safety about self and others, and failure to conform to social norms. In addition, Stout acknowledges some characteristics that go along with these symptoms such as charm, stimulation, and shallowness of emotion. Stout immediately jumps into the ripples and explains the emotional bond Joe a successful businessman has with his dog. Joe has been preparing for this meeting for days and feels as if there is a lot at stake. Joe had to make a really difficult decision in which he forgoes the business meeting just to go home and feed his dog because of his conscience. As Joe dashes out the office into his car the only thing he can think about is getting home to feed Reebok his dog. Joe is speeding, clenching his teeth and swearing under his breath at the slow drivers. “He reinterprets a couple red lights, passes a line of traffic by using the breakdown lane and clings frantically to the hope that he can somehow make it back to the office by 8:00. ” This would be a prime example of reckless disregard of the safety of self and others. Also, Stout explains the history of consciences and compares it to Freud’s superego. The superego is the inner voice during childhood and then eventually becomes a free-standing force in the developing mind. Stout then goes on and tells the story of the “Brilliant and handsome” Skip. A sociopath in disguise that manipulates people judgment about him and people’s emotion. Skip was able to manipulate people’s emotion by using flattery and his sexuality to get what he wanted. Skip was able to get away with so many things he was wealthy, came from a very well-known family, and had a reputation to fulfill. Everyone around him thought he was such a great person, but no one really knew the real Skip. With that being said, Skip was able to defend himself so good when others around him questioned him.
Manipulativeness is a very common sign when it comes to sociopaths because they will never see anything wrong with them regardless of how normal people think they are. “Sociopaths are infamous for their refusal to acknowledge reasonability for the decisions they make, or the outcomes of their decisions. ” Charm and compliments are a very important aspect when it comes to sociopaths because they use it to persuade us into taking risks. More often than not sociopaths disguise themselves and try their best to fit in with society. Along with that they often know a person more than a person knows themselves because they observe and pay attention to little details. By them doing that, they are able to take advantage of a person’s trusting nature. Stouts explains that most victims that she has worked with reported that their initial involvement with a sociopathic person caused them pain, but they continued association because of charming the person was. She also expressed that she witnessed countless times people shake hands and make remarks like “He was the most charming person, I ever met, I felt like I’d known her forever, or even He had energy about him that other people just don’t have. ” This clearly goes to show how important charm and compliments are when it comes to sociopaths.
Chapter seven was a very interesting chapter because it acknowledged the recognition of remorseless. We often put too much trust in people without thinking where that information will lead or what they can do with the information. Sociopaths have a set mentally to only do things to benefit themselves. For example, when you go and confine to someone they aren’t worried about how you truly feel, they’re more worried about what can get out of you. “The untrustworthy do not wear special shirts or marks on their foreheads, and the fact that we must often make crucial decisions about other people based on not much more than guesswork leads us to irrational strategies that readily become lifelong superstitions. ” Therefore, be aware of what you tell people and who you tell.
In order to protect yourself, you must know the thirteen rules of dealing with sociopaths in everyday life. The first one focuses on accepting the fact there are who exist that don’t have a conscience. Two, trust your instincts and don’t let your instincts differ from the information you are received. Three, when considering a new relationship, make sure you the rule of 3 is implemented to assure you aren’t dealing with a liar. Four, question authority and trust your own instincts and anxieties. Five, flattering can often put in dangerous situations that you don’t want to be in. Six, never confuse respect with fear because it can your judgment on things. Seven, stay away and don’t involve yourself in their game because you’ll never understand why they do what they do. Eight, avoid any kind of contact or communication with them as soon as possible. Nine, don’t waste your time on sociopaths’ pity instead you should be helping those who are really suffering. Ten, stop giving sociopaths multiple chances because no matter what they will never come to their consciences. Eleven, never agree to help a sociopath hide their true self because it will make matter worse. Twelve, defend your psyche and don’t let sociopaths tell you otherwise. Thirteen, living well is the best revenge. These rules are very important when it comes to dealing with a sociopath because you need to know how to protect yourself and others you love around you.
The last few chapters of the book explained why we have a conscience and looked and cultural and religious aspect of a sociopath. Conscience is very important and it’s better to have it them not because your mind would be all over the place making mad decisions. Many people often think sociopaths aren’t smart, but in fact, they are. They know exactly what they’re doing and regret it one bit. sociopaths like to ruin things and are very impulsive. Going off that never really learn from their mistakes. Sociopath or not, it’s good to know the symptoms and understand their thought process so you can prevent putting yourself in that predicament. If you really think about it, sociopaths are everyone and can be closer to you than expected just like the cases I will be talking about in the next few paragraphs.
In the first case, Jesse Willms was sued by the U. S. Federal Trade Commission for false advertisement. “On the weekend of November 12, 2012, Willms packed half a dozen friends into. A private plane on a frosty Edmonton, Alberta, tarmac, and jetted off to Las Vegas. ” Willms knew actually what he was doing and didn’t care what others thought of it because he was benefiting from it and making tons of money. Willms was only 22 years old when he forged himself into a veritable e-commerce titan with online auctions. As time went on Willms became one of the most successful internet ventures called “Just Think Media”. “In 2009 with only 20 employees it earned more than $100 million in revenue. ” Willms defrauded $467 million by enticing people you sign up for “risk-free” product trials. In this case, Willms clearly doesn’t have a conscience because he was able to commit such crimes without feeling guilty. Overall, Willms is not a just a criminal but also exhibits characteristics of a sociopath.
The second case talked about Christian Karl Gerhartsreither also known as “Clark Rockefeller”, a convicted murder and imposters. Throughout his whole life, he lied about everything including his identity just to fit in with society and to make people find him charming. Being accepted and liked by society was Rockefeller’s main goal because he would then be able to take advantage of the person’s trusting nature. Rockefeller had a different name for everyone he went. Going off that Rockefeller thought it was okay to be living multiple lives. Rockefeller killed his wife Sandra Boss and John Sohus and was sentenced to a life prison. Just think about how many things Rockefeller was able to get away with by having so many identities.
In the next case, Evel Knievel: A High-Flying life of a daredevil that grew up on the streets and was constantly getting in trouble with the police. His parents died at the age of two and never really received much attention, therefore, he went out and started doing daredevil stunts. Once he realized how much attention he was getting from it that’s all he wanted to do now. He was never afraid of anything. Mr. Montvillie said, “He was a guy that just – you run with that stick and then you’ll poke your eye out. You know, he’d run with the stick all day long. And there’s something freeing in seeing someone kind of unafraid of stuff, you know? He also expressed that Knievel was the type of person if he liked you, he would do anything for you, but if he didn’t like you he would do anything to you. Although Knievel doesn’t seem like a bad person, he for sure falls under the 1 out 25 ordinary Americans.
Lastly, Danny Flynn a former red sox player was arrested and charged in August 2015. Fylnn was a real estate professional by day and a well-known charity gala auctioneer at night plead guilty to federal court to defrauding about 80 million investors. One thing that stood out to me, in this case, was that Flynn’s close friends are among his victims. “They typically entrusted him with $10, 000 and $500, 000. ” Everyone thought Flynn was a good guy and people put so much trust in him. Sociopaths tend to do whatever it takes to them look good to society so that they can trust him and find him charming. It’s sad to see situations like this happen because it makes you lose trust in people. “Few, if any, are expected to recover their money, and one of his business partners committed suicide. Flynn is very selfish because he targeted his loved ones without taking a second to think about them. Many characteristics that Stout explained in the book are shown in Flynn’s choices and actions. Stout didn’t only help me retain information about sociopaths and understand their behavior. It also helped me apply knowledge to real-life situations to understand their behavior.
After reading and analyzing the four cases I strongly still believe all four of them are sociopaths. In each case there are multiple characteristics that stand out as a sign of sociopathy.
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