Confessions of a Sociopath

27 05 2015

I picked up this book on a whim, it’s title having piqued my curiosity. I had no expectations from the book but just hoped that it wouldn’t be a drag. I’m relieved to discover that it made quite an interesting read with enough depth and detail. Even though written anonymously, or rather because of it, this (kind of) memoir seems more honest and authentic.

sociopathThe author, M.E.Thomas (a pseudonym), is a lawyer, and by self-diagnosis, a successful sociopath. To add credibility to this book, she even got a formal diagnosis that merely confirmed what she already knew. She starts with describing what sociopathy means and what characterizes a sociopath, based on scientific research and popular medical and other works. She then delves into how she had always been a little off – compared to the “normal” empaths (the interpretation of terms – “normal”, “empaths” is arguable, according to the author, and she addresses it in the final chapter.), right from the childhood, the challenges she faced, what she learned along the way, how she coped and what she envisions for the future.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines being sociopathic as “of, relating to, or characterized by asocial or antisocial behavior or exhibiting antisocial personality disorder“. While there doesn’t seem to be a universal agreement on what traits conclusively and objectively define sociopathy, some of the major traits of sociopaths include lack of empathy for others, charm, manipulation, lying, promiscuity, chameleonism, mask wearing, ruthlessness, impulsiveness, lack of moral compass, lack of rigid sense of self, risk-taking, lack of reaction to negative stimuli like fear and danger etc.

This definitely sounds dangerous, but not always in reality – according to the author. She tries to establish that sociopaths are just variants of human nature, with a slightly different genetic makeup and brain structure.  But of course, they are not doomed by their biology and can turn out into successful, contributing members of society rather than criminals or people of violence/ruthlessness. The upbringing and the kind of people around them – nurture, coupled with their conscious effort to function well in the society full of empaths, can and will always stump “nature”, as is evident by the author and several others who visit and comment on her blog – http://www.sociopathworld.com/

Of course, sociopaths are prone to be destructive, but it’s true that even the so called “normal” people commit heinous crimes in the name of passion or something else. So, don’t jump to hasty conclusions. 😛

The author describes her journey of trying to understand herself, to learn how others “function”, and making up a prosthetic moral compass that serves her well in her relationships and interactions with other people, and mostly keep her out of trouble. She says that since many things that empaths take for granted  – like relating to other’s emotions and reacting appropriately, feeling guilt, making small talk,  etc don’t come naturally to her, since all her actions are driven by self-interest  – loss vs gain – without any emotional stake, she can’t be herself while she is with people. She has to project a persona that charms, and pleases others. She doesn’t understand and doesn’t care that she may hurt someone by her words/actions, but she will likely refrain from them only if she believes her behavior will negatively impact her in some material way. She likes manipulating, and ruining people. She takes everything as a project, a challenge, and strives to succeed. She enjoys the journey rather than her exploits.

The neurological disconnect between emotion and decision-making in sociopaths coupled with ruthlessness, and self-interest serves well in professional settings and is actually desirable. But the same traits fail one awfully in personal settings. She realizes that this kind of attitude/behavior is not sustainable. Sociopaths always need to be vigilant and try to be someone who they are not, which is so burdening. She emphasizes that it is important to understand the true nature of sociopaths and how they are different. Acceptance and understanding from the people around will help a great deal in coping and being successful and constructive in a sustainable way. It’s difficult both ways – empaths to understand sociopaths and vice versa. Whichever side you are on, you need to make an effort to understand the other. 😉  The bottom line is that Sociopaths exist – roughly 1 to 4 percent of population is sociopathic -, and they are often hidden in plain sight.

I’m sure I haven’t managed to put down all I wanted to say about this book here, but I’ll like to end with just saying that it had been an insightful and engaging read.

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2 responses

28 05 2015
mirrorgirl

She also has a blog, really interesting to read

28 05 2015
sireeshaavvari

Yes. I mentioned it in the post.

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