The Paranoia Switch

How Terror Rewires Our Brains and Reshapes Our Behavior--and How We Can Reclaim Our Courage

Martha Stout, Ph.D.

Sarah Crichton Books

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On September 11, 2001, the "Fear Switch" in our brains got flicked. How do we turn it off and reclaim our lives?
Five years after September 11, we’re still scared. And why not? Terrorists could strike at any moment. Our country is at war. The polar caps are melting. Hurricanes loom. We struggle to control our fear so that we can go about our daily lives. Our national consciousness has been torqued by trauma, in the process transforming our behavior, our expectations, our legal system.
In The Myth of Sanity, Martha Stout, who until recently taught at the Harvard Medical School, analyzed how we cope with personal trauma. In her national bestseller The Sociopath Next Door, she showed how to avoid suffering psychological damage at the hands of others. Now, in The Paranoia Switch, she offers a groundbreaking clinical, neuropsychological, and practical examination of what terror and fear politics have done to our minds, and to the very biology of our brains.
In this timely and essential book, Stout assures us that we can interrupt the cycle of trauma and look forward to a future free of fear only by understanding our own paranoia—and what flips the paranoia switch.

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Book Excerpts

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Paranoia Switch
ONEHOMESICK WORLDOf all the tyrannies on human kind, The worst is that which persecutes the mind.- JOHN DRYDEN 
Would you like to feel safe again in your own country?If your answer is yes, like most people's, then you are personally involved in a struggle even more crucial than the war on terror. Though you probably have been only dimly aware of your situation, you have been fighting this battle for a number of years now, and the outcome of your private crisis will affect your future, and your children's, even more fundamentally

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Praise for The Paranoia Switch

Praise for The Sociopath Next Door
The Sociopath Next Door is a chillingly accurate portrayal of evil–the decent person’s guide to indecency. Martha Stout draws upon sound scientific data and clinical experience and her writing is graceful and compelling.”
—Jonathan Kellerman, author of Therapy, When the Bough Breaks, and Monster.

“Stout’s portraits make a striking impact and readers with unpleasant neighbors or colleagues may find themselves paying close attention to her sociopathic-behavior checklist and suggested coping strategies. Deeply thought-provoking and unexpectedly lyrical.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Martha Stout, Ph.D.

Martha Stout, PhD. is the author of The Myth of Sanity: Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness and The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us.

Martha Stout


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Available Formats and Book Details

The Paranoia Switch
How Terror Rewires Our Brains and Reshapes Our Behavior--and How We Can Reclaim Our Courage
Martha Stout, Ph.D.

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sarah Crichton Books
September 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429997676
ISBN10: 1429997672
240 pages