Book Review on Sociopaths: “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout (Review by Gary Ludwig)

I just finished The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. Its lessons are worth sharing.

I thought sociopaths were limited to such people as Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein and other tyrants who had murdered people throughout history to achieve their goals. But Stout claims that one in 50 people (or 2% of the population) are sociopathic. A sociopath is usually defined as someone who doesn’t have a moral conscience, and it doesn’t matter who they hurt to achieve their goals. They don’t necessarily have to be a murderer to be a sociopath, but a sociopath can kill your career.

As I continued to listen to the book, it became apparent I had dealt with sociopaths several times in my career. You might commonly know them as backstabbers. These aren’t the people who you might have a disagreement with from time to time. They will usually be pleasant to your face and stab you from behind. Usually these backstabbers see the organization as something to serve them instead of them serving the organization. They’re usually the person who has no trouble lying, and they’ll stab you in the back when you’re unable to defend yourself. They’ll throw you under the bus at a meeting and step on you if it means them advancing themselves even in the most incremental manner. They’re excellent at lying to get themselves out of trouble.

If you have 50 or more people in your organization, chances are you might have at least one sociopath within the group. [ TBI has 300 members so it has room for several sociopaths. The clearest two are Luke Preece and Binsar Simorangkir. I believe that Helmy V. probably was too; he allegedly embezzled money from 2 different franchise schools and harassed at least 6 different women in a short time with the company. No conscience there.]

The sociopath who is the backstabber can easily be spotted. They’re usually selfish and self-centered; they think they know how to beat the system and feel fulfilled if they can step on someone and benefit. [ Yep….this is exactly right. Once we revealed that Luke had disposed of Ratna as School Manager at TBI Riau and appointed his best friend there (again!!)  we received a message…Yes, Ratna is gone. Hahahahaha! The woman had worked hard for almost 20 years we hear and she is disposed of like trash by Luke the sociopath.Often, they’ll engage in underhanded tactics. You need to be cautious of these people in your organization because they can seriously damage your career as a manager. [ Wati, Cam, Retty, Chris, Minnie, G****** A at Malang, Monica and now Ratna have all been knifed by Luke in the last 3 years or so. 9 managers in a small chain knifed by Preee in 3 years. And this sociopath who as supposed to be their supervisor and helper just laughs when he gets rid of them by slandering them! It’s horrifying stuff really. A true disgrace.] They can lie to your face and never blink. They’re quick to blame others for mistakes and seldom take responsibility for things that go wrong. They can be belligerent and have bully tendencies.

My experience has been that these backstabbers are manipulative and will try to influence circumstances or events by spreading rumors or dropping little bits of false information in your boss’ ear in an attempt to influence them. The backstabber in your organization may even be the one dropping little tidbits in your ear in an attempt to turn you against someone else. [ Do not believe a word Luke Preece tells you if he is running down someone. He is pure poison and nothing he says can be trusted. Ratna knew he was evil and told Okeu to be careful of him. But even being forewarned isn’t enough to protect yourself. The only people who are actually safe are his complete toadying slaves like Lilies and Scott.]

Unfortunately, I’ve been backstabbed by sociopaths in my career. Looking back, all the warning signs were there. I thought some of these people were close associates. In one case, I thought he was a longtime friend. It can be a shock when you really find out what has been going on behind your back. You don’t have to live in a fortress, but as it was said in another book I listened to by Andrew Grove, co-founder of Intel Corporation, “Only the paranoid survive.” 


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