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I've looked at "The Sociopath Next Door," and I had some problems with it, as a lot of her statistics she cites are outdated or just plain incorrect. A lot of the information she uses are from outdated editions of the DSM-IV. The most recent edition, I believe, is from 2000, yet she cites from studies done in the 1990s, and even from the 1960s. I'm sure she's just trying to give a historical context, but for a book published just a few years ago on psychological disorders, one would think she would use more contemporary studies in her research.
Also, the statistic that 4%, or 1 in 25, of people are sociopaths is inaccurate (I thought it was fishy that she stated this with absolutely no citation). According to the DSM-IV, that rate is actually much lower...closer to around 2% (yes, I'm a nerd and read this stuff ).
I had a lot of other problems with the book, which is why I never finished it...she tends to sensationalize the case studies a bit. While I'm not disputing that people with sociopathic, psychopathic or antisocial disorders will chew you up and spit you out - they can and they will - it's also important to me that a writer does accurate research. I also don't think it's fair to theorize that anyone who has treated you badly MUST be a sociopath. Sometimes a bad relationship is just that - a bad relationship. Sometimes people treat others badly, but it seems illogicial to assume that that person has a personality disorder because of it. I felt as though she were concluding that those of us who have been badly hurt in bad relationships are simply victims of sociopathy and/or antisocial behavior. The CAUSE of a bad relationship, while very important, is still not as important to me as the EFFECTS of it.
I am not arguing that we are immune to being sucked in by by people like this. But it's difficult for me to take her book seriously when many of her philsophical ramblings and case studies tend to be a bit more sensationalized than they should be, and not all of her theories are founded in psychological science.
Breakups are hard, regardless of whether the person who rejected us has a psychological/personality disorder or not. There are more factors involved that contribute to how painful a breakup is. I do agree that those with sociopathic and antisocial disorders/tendencies are the absolute worst people to get romantically involved with - they are parasitic and selfish, and they target and feed off of those who are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable. They leave people devastated, used, lost, and reeling.
I don't want to be totally negative at all, here, and I really apologize if I'm coming off that way, EL! On thing I did like in this post was the theory of how we come to feel betrayed and abandoned after we've been rejected. We DO panic at the threat or in the event of a breakup. It's easy for us to blame ourselves for the end of a relationship if we've been rejected - rejection can really shatter your self-esteem. It's a common reaction, and while I think anyone you've been able to form a very strong bond with is indeed someone who was greatly important to you, what's most important is how you cope with the severing of that bond.
When you get into a relationship with someone you really love, you're automatically setting yourself up to get hurt. It's sort of required if you want a relationship with that person. I tried holding back to protect myself in my last relationship, and the more I held back, the more I resented having to hold back. I was hurt more BECAUSE of it. My ex held back too, and it made me feel like I had no other choice but to keep myself in check, to keep from revealing too much or giving too much of myself. That in itself made the end of things hurt more. And though he did not treat me well (and that was also MY fault for allowing it), and though I was absolutely crushed at the end of the relationship, I'm pretty sure he was NOT a sociopath. I think he was just as big an idiot as I was.
"Are tangerines really just oranges that didn't want it enough?" - Random Greeting Card