Book Review: Surrounded by Psychopaths

Surrounded by psychopaths

I currently read a book  Surrounded by psychopath, and I was so supposed to go to a book club to discuss it. Let me make something clear, if it wasn’t for the book club, I would have never chosen to read it. But anyways, I registered to the event, I bought the book, and I had to read it in less than a week, which I did.

I woke up that day feeling excited that I was going to go to my first book club. I had an amazing day at work, I rushed to my apartment, took my dog to the park, came back, ordered food, ate it in fewer than 10 minutes, ordered a cab, and arrived at the location.

When I arrived, I found a lady, who was waiting as well, she seemed a bit lost and asked me if I was here for the book club. I said yes, hesitantly because she didn’t seem really happy and excited. She told me that she was calling the person who organized it, but they were not replying. After some time, we figured out that the event was cancelled, and I went home very pissed about the whole situation.

I woke up this morning feeling like I still need to talk about this book, and I have no one to discuss it with. So here I am writing a blog about it.

What is Surrounded by Psychopath about?

Surrounded by Psychopaths is by Thomas Erikson and it’s about the idea that we are all surrounded by psychopaths in our lives. It can be our managers, our boyfriend, husband, wife, mother, cousin, you get the idea. And it claims that this book will help you identify the psychopaths in your life or the psychotics behaviors surrounding you.

It also talks about the difference between influencing people and manipulating people, and how to know when you are being manipulated and how to deal with it. It also talks about the different drivers of people and how do people feel the motivation to do certain things and what drives them to behave a certain way. The entire book is based on the DISC theory.

What is the DISC theory?

According to DISC insights , the DISC theory is a model that is used to describe and shape human behavior into 4 distinct category based on their personality traits: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C)

1. The Dominant people (described as the reds): those are people who are very direct, assertive, and result driven They tend to be described as confident and very independent people which sometimes can be seen as aggressiveness.
2. The Influence people (described as the yellows): those are very sociable people very outgoing and enthusiastic who are always surrounded by people and are very charismatic. Sometimes those type of people can be considered unfocused or impulsive.
3. The Steadiness (described as the greens): people who score high in steadiness are more likely to be patient, dependable and supportive. People see them as being loyal, calm and empathetic. However, they tend to be perceived as indecisive or overly accommodating.
4. The Conscientiousness (described as the blues): those type of people are often very analytical, detail-oriented and systematic. They described as logical, disciplined and precise. However, they can be perceived as perfectionistic or rigid.

This model is tested and proven, and many researchers, writers and personal developers use this theory to base their findings on.

And as a matter of fact, the Surrounded by Psychopaths is based on this theory. From identifying yourself to see into which category you belong, to identifying others, to identify also how the negative aspects of each personality can affect you and how you can affect others. Also, it describes how a red, yellow, green or blue person manipulate others, but also what are the weaknesses of each colors and how they can get manipulated.

However, the book mentions another theory that can help us question the DISC theory and help for my later argumentation.

What is the Johari Window?

After reading half of Surrounded by Psychopaths, Thomas Erikson introduces the theory of the Johari Window. According to this article,  The Johari window is based on the idea that there are different aspects of yourself that are known or not by yourself oy by others.

1. The open area or the arena: this is the aspects of yourself and your personality that are known by you and by others.
2. The blind spot: this is things about yourself that are known to others but not known to you.
3. The hidden area or the façade: this what you keep to yourself. You know some aspects of you, but you chose to not show them to others. This is what you know about you, but others don’t.
4. The unknown: as its name indicated, this is what is not known about you to you and to others.

This theory shows something we already know: we are complex beings, with complex personalities.

Surrounded by Psychopaths: a confusing book

As much I appreciated learning about these theories I do believe Surrounded by Psychopaths has a lot of limitations that were not addressed enough. In my opinion, the book was a bit superficial and almost repetitive.

I fundamentally disagree with the idea of classifying people. Surrounded by Psychopaths uses the DISC theory and predicts the behavior of each type of person. By the end of the book, you start looking at people differently. You try to put them into a color, you try to ask yourself which color are you and how to not let other colors manipulate you. I don’t like the classification of people because

I believe that humans are too complex to be put into a box. And nowadays, everyone is already trying to put everyone into a box: gender, sexual orientation, job title, society classes.. You have to be something, you have to belong somewhere. If you are not only one thing then it’s okay to be a mix, but you have to know what are you a mix of, and even then…

Also, I don’t like the predictability that this book teaches you. It feels like it’s so easy to understand people. It feels like it’s so easy to predict their behavior. It feels like everyone is following some exact pattern and reacts to the same things in different ways that are still categorizable and predictable. I disagree. We are people shaped by different stories, different societies and we are not this predictable.

Going back to the Johari Window, I felt it confusing to be introduced into this book. Haven’t we spent over 300 pages talking about how predictive and categorizable people are? Why all of the sudden we are bringing up a theory, that is never discussed later on to this book. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the theory. I agree that there are different sides of me known by me, by people, by both or none. So my question would be: how can we be this predictable, when we don’t even know the full picture about ourselves?

A review on Surrounded by Psychopath: What did I learn?

Reading Surrounded by psychopaths is easy, you learn a lot of different things that have nothing to do with the DISC and the Johari Window. You learn that 80% of our decisions are made with emotions, you learn what drives and motivates people in general, and learn the difference between influence and manipulation.

From my personal experience, I didn’t really enjoy the book, I was supposed to read it and go to my first book club and disagree with everyone but because I didn’t have the chance to do that, I thought of leaving this here. I encourage you to read the book, reading always brings on new perspective and it’s always great to learn about things from different angles.

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