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Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent…

Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight

by M.E. Thomas

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As an empath, I have mixed feelings about this book. (Ha!) The first third is crazy good, (okay, I'll stop now) as the author tells us about her life, her family and the peculiar landscape that is her mind. I was fascinated with how she uses her intellect to create emotional props with which to engage other, more emotional people. She has an artificial emotional intelligence.

I would argue that so do most of us, in that emotions and their regulation are culturally bound and therefore, in large part, learned. But the hill the author has to climb to approach normality is steep indeed, and she achieves it through hard work, cunning and, interestingly, a desire to connect emotionally. She has remarkable insight into her own interpersonal processes (because she examines them constantly), so it makes for compelling reading.

But only for a while. The material about her family is wonderful, and I wished for more of it. I found myself skipping over some of the second half. As other reviewers have noted, it gets repetitive. It's a shame, really, because there is an honest story here, being told from an ostensibly unreliable narrator. What could be better?

I recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology and the interplay of social convention, emotional expression and intellect.
( )
  SonjaYoerg | Oct 1, 2014 |
M.E. doesn't have to convince me that she is a very different type of person than most. For me, difference is fascinating but even for those who are comfortable belonging to 'normality' the divergent paths of human nature are extremely revealing. If you are a non conforming individual of any breed, but particularly if you place a high value on logic, many of the tenets M.E.'s morality and life philosophy will resonate with you. If you aren't, they might explain why certain people around you panic when you break down and start crying.

The style is engaging and readable, I can certainly believe sociopaths are charming! and although M.E. is not, and admits to this herself, a fully mature individual; she is self reflective and intelligent in a completely new way so that her observations are extremely valuable and different than those of neurotypicals.

"What makes you a sociopath is not that you choose to do certain things, but that you are presented with an entirely different set of choices than a neurotypical person." ( )
  Evalangui | Aug 22, 2014 |
Interesting and entertaining. For the review, visit The Book Wheel. ( )
  thebookwheel | Jul 8, 2014 |
Even after reading mixed reviews on the book I decided to give it a shot. The book is more autobiographical but the author freely admits to changing things to hide their identity and protect from potential lawsuits. The narrative jumps around and smugness of the book just grated on my nerves. After a while I was actively skimming looking for anything that might be interesting. I'm glad that I got this from the library because I don't think I would have wanted to have wasted my cash on this. ( )
  Glennis.LeBlanc | Jul 8, 2014 |
I've met more than a few sociopaths in my time and some of them have written books, but this is the first book I've read by someone who defines herself as a sociopath and sets out to demystify the condition.

That, alone, makes it an interesting premise for a book and this book is certainly intriguing, although not entirely successful. Since one of the markers for sociopathy/psychopathy is a lack of insight into the self or interest in self-analysis, the very fact that Thomas went to all the trouble, over the course of years, to engage in all this self-examination makes the work somewhat suspect. It should also be noted that none of the medical professionals she consulted can, because of confidentiality laws, confirm or refute any of her assertions. Quite convenient, that.

M.E. Thomas writes under a pseudonym, but has been revealed elsewhere to be a modestly successful lawyer. This is useful information in that knowing who the actual person is and knowing some facts about her life gives the reader a comparison for the grandiose claims she makes about herself in her book. Is she really so highly intelligent, so astonishingly alluring, does she really not worry about her lack of income due to her ability to play the stock market and average a 9.5% return? Well, it's best to remember that one of the hallmarks of a sociopath/psychopath is that they lie like a rug and have a highly exaggerated sense of self-worth.

M.E. Thomas may be a "successful" sociopath, as she asserts, by which she means she lives well, has relationships, and contributes, in a fashion, to society. On the other hand, she may just be a nasty bit of work, a narcissist, a liar, a user, a con artist, and a petty criminal. Either way, someone who dedicates a chapter of her book to "ruining people" is unlikely to do herself much good with this book. It has sold rather well though, so perhaps because she doesn't give a fig for other people, money is consolation enough.

One gets the sense Thomas would like to be both admired and feared, so perhaps my reaction, which is to pity her, will elicit her wrath. She does have wrath in spades, apparently. For example, when a city worker chided her for using an off-limits escalator, Thomas followed him, a “metallic” taste in her mouth, fantasizing about killing him and “how right that would feel.” Violence was avoided, apparently, when she lost sight of him in the crowd. “I’m sure I wouldn't have been able to actually kill him,” she says, “but I’m also relatively certain I would have assaulted him.” However, she writes with what appears to be affection for a non-judgmental, Christian co-worker whose "willingness to regard me as a human begin despite her firm belief I was a sociopath offered me the possibility that I could be understood and accepted as I was. She was proof that not all people with consciences and empathy were appalled by the existence of people like me." For someone who insists she doesn't care about others and has no use for either a conscience or empathy, this is contradictory.

The book is adequately written. The prose is clean and the research is fine but, ike many such works, the writer seems to have revealed more about herself, and different things, than she intended. She says, for example, that she never engaged in any criminal behavior but also says she has a"“significant history of impulsive, aggressive, and generally irresponsible conduct — things like fistfights and theft.” She talks about theft quite casually. Underlying the entire work is a sort of plea to be pitied, to be accepted as her kind co-worker accepted her. One suspects such acceptance would be used only to Thomas's advantage however (as outlined in her "Emotions and the Fine Art of Ruining People" chapter). It's the sad push-me-pull-me stance of a deeply damaged person.

Where her lack of insight is in boldest relief is during her examination of her childhood, which was -- contrary to her assertions -- not normal at all. Beatings, neglect and a lack of security ought never to be considered 'normal' and the fact Thomas does consider it that way is evidence of a serious problem, although Thomas doesn't seem to understand that.

In the end, I didn't want to spend any more time than was necessary with this book and the relentless self-justification, grandiosity, arrogance and smug conceit. It was simply too sad. Consider this statement: “In a world filled with gloomy, mediocre nothings populating a go-nowhere rat race, people are attracted to the sociopath’s exceptionalism like moths to a flame.”

Not really. But I wish her well. ( )
1 vote Laurenbdavis | Mar 31, 2014 |
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A diagnosed non-criminal sociopath explains how her charisma and penchant for convincing lies enables her to influence and seduce others, offering insight into her system of ethics while offering advice on how to manage a relationship with a sociopath.… (more)

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