[F]ascinating…part memoir, part psychological treatise, and entirely not to be trusted. Boston Globe, regarding M.E. Thomas’s 2013 Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight
Whereas my last post was about sociopathy as a diagnosis (“The Sociopath Next Door“), this one focuses on an individual who says she has it. M.E. Thomas, the pen name of the author of Confessions of a Sociopath, has a website called sociopathworld.com. In addition to being a lawyer and Sunday School teacher, she self-describes as the following (Psychology Today):
You would like me if you met me. I have the kind of smile that is common among television show characters and rare in real life, perfect in its sparkly teeth dimensions and ability to express pleasant invitation. I’m the sort of date you would love to take to your ex’s wedding—fun, exciting, the perfect office escort. And I’m just the right amount of successful so that your parents would be thrilled if you brought me home.
From the publisher’s blurb:
As M.E. Thomas says of her fellow sociopaths, we are your neighbors, co-workers, and quite possibly the people closest to you: lovers, family, friends. Our risk-seeking behavior and general fearlessness are thrilling, our glibness and charm alluring. Our often quick wit and outside-the-box thinking make us appear intelligent—even brilliant. We climb the corporate ladder faster than the rest, and appear to have limitless self-confidence. Who are we? We are highly successful, non-criminal sociopaths and we comprise 4% of the American population (that’s 1 in 25 people!).
Selected Quotes from Confessions of a Sociopath:
I have never killed anyone, but I have certainly wanted to. I may have a disorder, but I am not crazy.
It was too late, though: I was already too smart for the therapist. Or maybe I was never amenable to therapy. Either way, I wasn’t going to change. I had already chosen to view the world as a set of opportunities at winning or losing in a zero-sum game, and I used every encounter to gain information to my advantage.
Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of my confidence is the way I sustain eye contact. Some people have called it a “predator stare,” and it appears that most sociopaths have it. Sustained eye contact can seem hostile, and so zoo visitors are frequently advised not to stare at gorillas, lest it be taken as a sign of aggression.
People sometimes say that we lack remorse or guilt like it’s a bad thing. They are sure that remorse and guilt are necessary to being a “good” person.
The closest analogue to a sociopath’s love is probably the love of a child: intense, accepting, selfish. And finally, like a child, the sociopath will be extremely loyal. A sociopath will never put you above himself, but if you’re worth it to him he will readily put you above all others. I confirmed this with my friend, that with regard to being friends with a sociopath, “the pros outweigh the cons.” This is not to say that my loved ones do not know who I am; most of them know me intimately and are well aware of the particular attributes that set me apart from them and most of humanity. In fact, many of the people dearest to me are extreme empaths, individuals who—with full knowledge of the tiny blackness of my heart—cannot help but place their soft, fragile hearts in my care. I reciprocate with my own brand of acceptance and devotion.