A friend told me about Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas; a diagnosed sociopath telling her story of how she sees life differently, how she lives her life with a mask of “normalcy” to hide her sociopathic ways from the rest of the world and how she functions (and thrives) in normal society (she also writes a blog: Sociopathworld.com). It provides a raw account of life as one who is misunderstood as a criminal monster because of her lack of the ability to feel guilt, remorse, or empathy and how rules are abided by, not because of moral understanding, but rather because the effects of breaking them are “unfavourable”.
I was sitting one night and thinking, after a particularly frustrating conversation with my ex-boyfriend, trying to figure out how someone can be so emotionally stunted. I could not put my finger on what was so “off” about his reactions (or lack thereof) to any sort of talk or appearance of emotions. I’m not a particularly emotional person myself, but I have worked hard in my life to acknowledge and understand what and how I feel, and how it affects others. I naturally assume that other people are able to do the same, particularly those I have been close to and cared about.
So the next thought for me, in my broken state, was that he must be a sociopath (as one does). I got hold of my friend and immediately borrowed this book to start educating myself.
I was engrossed. It has been a long time since a book has captured my attention like this one did. What I uncovered was a fascinating psychological look into the mind of a person with a label and the genetic brain wiring to have the capacity to do harm to others with no guilt or remorse. She functions and thrives in society, without others needing to know her “secret”. With 1 in 25 people being sociopaths, this could be someone you know, someone you work with, or more likely someone you report to in the corporate world. The traits of a sociopath fit in very well with high-powered executive positions and this book revealed quite a few people to me that I have encountered in my previous corporate life and my personal past, that are quite likely sociopaths. It helped me to understand the way that they think and some of the immoral and unethical behaviour I encountered.
I discovered a few interesting traits about myself in the author, which at first scared me, but I realised that, for example, “nearly everyone in the world has appetites and impulses, trigger emotions, islands of selfishness, lusts just beneath the surface…. most either hold such things in check or indulge them secretly”. It does not make you a sociopath. “I like people. I like to touch them, to mould them and to ruin them.” I don’t have that kind of manipulative streak and no intention to harm others for my own gain. I’m no sociopath. My ex-boyfriend probably isn’t either.
This is a compelling and insightful look into the mind of a functioning, non-criminal sociopath – what could be more interesting?