Published by Crown Publishing Group on May 14, 2013
Genres/Lists: Memoir, Non-Fiction
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I received this book for free from the publisher.
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Have you ever manipulated anyone? Or used your charm to get what you want? Or rationalized bad behavior? Chances are, even if you don’t want to admit it, the answer is yes, which means that you, too, exhibit slightly sociopathic tendencies. The idea that everyone can relate to a sociopath is the undercurrent of Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas. Thomas, a self-proclaimed sociopath, offers readers an inside glimpse into the minds of sociopaths everywhere. Although the book is largely personal, she draws from encounters with other sociopaths on her website to draw broad conclusions. Here are five things that might surprise you:
- Not all sociopaths want to kill puppies. Sure, they may not go out of their way to save a puppy if there’s no benefit to themselves, but there’s such a thing as survival of the fittest that sociopaths subscribe to.
- Most sociopaths follow the law. It’s all about details. Yes, sociopaths are inherently selfish, but it is this same selfishness that compels them to follow the law. Granted, the won’t refrain from killing you because they have a moral aversion to it, but they will refrain from killing you because going to jail is inconvenient to them.
- Sociopaths aren’t necessarily crazy. Granted, there are some crazy sociopaths out there, but for the most part they are successful, law-abiding citizens who are fully aware of the fact that they don’t feel emotions – they just don’t care. More often than not, they come across as the office jerk, but in certain professions this works to their advantage.
Sociopaths can love. According to Thomas, she feels true joy when she plays with her niece and prefers to have her family around as opposed to not. She’s also been in love, even if what she considers love is different than what an empath (someone who has emotions) calls love.
- Some empaths are more evil than sociopaths. This actually makes sense. Think about how many crimes are committed in a fit of passion or in the name of religion. One of the quotes in the book that struck me is the following: “It’s as if the existence of evil…. provides a safe haven for the good to engage in evil.” Basically, there are a lot of people who commit crimes against “bad” people in the name of “good.”
It any of the above have sparked your curiosity, then I highly recommend reading this book. Thomas blends personal experiences (including her devout Mormonism) with scientific studies to try to understand herself and educate the public about why they shouldn’t start chasing sociopaths with pitchforks. One criticism of the book that I’ve come across on a few occasions has to do with her appreciation for her parents even though they were clearly awful. I chalk this up to her rational approach to life – she doesn’t care that her parents were awful because she can see how her upbringing helped her become integrated into society. In the end, despite the jumpiness of the storyline, I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the subject.