Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E Thomas is a non-fiction work about an American woman who suffers from sociopathy, also known as “antisocial personality disorder” nowadays. I first caught a glimpse of the book on The Book Depository Home page and contacted the publisher who kindly sent me a review copy.
From Good Reads:
The first memoir of its kind, Confessions of a Sociopath is an engrossing, highly captivating narrative of the author’s life as a diagnosed sociopath.
She is a charismatic charmer, an ambitious self-promoter, and a cunning and calculating liar. She can induce you to invest in her financial schemes, vote for her causes, and even join her in bed. Like a real-life Lisbeth Salander, she has her own system of ethics, and like Dexter, she thrives on bending and occasionally breaking the rules. She is a diagnosed, high-functioning, noncriminal sociopath, and this is her world from her point of view.
Drawn from the author’s own experiences; her popular blog, Sociopathworld.com; and scientific literature, Confessions of a Sociopath is part confessional memoir, part primer for the curious. Written from the point of view of a diagnosed sociopath, it unveils for the very first time these people who are hiding in plain sight. The book confirms suspicions and debunks myths about sociopathy, providing a road map for dealing with the sociopath in your life.
Confessions of a Sociopath is the first memoir I have ever read. But, as a I have always said, every story is fictional even though you choose to report the facts and this becomes especially important when the author is reporting her own life. So, I usually take all the memoirs and autobiographies with a pinch of salt and realize that it must have taken some time for the writer to arrange the events and decided what to tell and what to keep to herself. Memoirs are, after all, constructed narratives the same way we construct our daily lives, for example, when we examine the day we have just lived while lying in bed at night. If you also take into account that one of the most remarkable features of antisocial personality disorders is that they are unbelievable good manipulators and charmers, the text in front of you already is surrounded by at least two frames that although not fictional, make it very important to keep in mind that what you have is something constructed, a product.
So, why did I took interest in this book? Partly because I have always been interested in psychology and psychiatry and have long wanted to learn more about disorders related to morality as sociopathy originally was back in the 19th century. Also, Mr. B&R is a psychologist and we more often than not find ourselves discussing other people’s behavior and how it affects their daily life for better and for worse. Finally, you can make the connection nowadays society makes between sociopaths and crimes and how those affected by the disorder appear as ruthless and pretty scary criminals in many TV shows. But I wanted to know more. One of the most important questions nowadays is what makes certain behavior a disorder and what does not because we are so keen on labels that what we would think “normal” can redefined as a disorder and totally change the way we perceive it and ourselves. We can become sufferers, victims and even patients. One of the anecdotes I tell the most is how in the Caribbean culture depression is a normal episode in one’s life and those who suffer it simply stay in bed until they recover, as if it were a persistent cold. And they recover! But things regarding depression are quite different in the Western society, it is a disorder, it is a problem and its label as such is not helpful at all. So, what happens when your behavior is labelled as a disorder? And more importantly, one people are afraid of? Stop anyone on the street and ask them what they think a psychopath is and they are likely to answer “someone who kills people” or “a criminal”. This is not true. According to statistics from 1% to 4% of our population could be labelled as sociopaths and while half of the most cruel and violent crimes are committed by sociopaths, not all of them are killers. In fact, the author of the book is – according to her narrative – a successful law professor who saved enough for her retirement before she was 30.
Confessions of a Sociopath makes a great reading, especially for those interested in the field, but it is also important for the population in general. Psychological disorders are usually stigmatized by almost everyone because those who suffer them are perceived as a danger. I know nurses who are afraid to work at the psychiatry ward and who are truly scared of the patients there. And this needs to change, also, psychology and scientifically based therapy need to be respected because they play a key role in our development as a society.
I loved Confessions of a Sociopath and learned a lot about the disorder. It was also great commenting it with Mr. B&R as I read and kept self-diagnosing me as a psychopath which apparently I am not. But just one more bit of information: sociopathy/psychopathy is something gradual. In fact, most people have certain traits that fit into the profile, but to be labelled as such, one has to have a huge score on a series of tests ALWAYS run and interpreted by professionals. I recently heard a friend calling another one a sociopath thanks to a Facebook test and felt quite offended when I told her to please do not dare to say such a thing. I cannot recommend this book enough to everyone, it is full of information and personal accounts of situations that will, luckily, educate the reader. I am in no way defending psychopaths/sociopaths or justifying their behavior, but they are part of out society for better and for worse and it is very interesting to learn about their disorder and how society even praises it in some professional fields where lack of empathy for others, megalomania, ruthlessness and no desire to follow the rules can come quite handy.
Related links * :
- Author M.E Thomas has a website on sociopathy. Check it here.
- She was interviewed by Dr. Phil. Check some fragments here.
- See another interview here.
- Listen to a radio interview here.
* I have no idea whether M.E Thomas is really a sociopath or as, many suggest online after seeing the previous interviews, she is a fraud. I am just reviewing her book which comes out as charming and manipulative in a good way as it can get.