“I wish I could tell stories of ruining people, but they’re the stories most likely to get me sued – situations that involved the police and restraining orders and professional lives derailed.”
Every human has a propensity for violence, manipulation, and cruelty. Most people, however, don’t really want to hurt others and keep these aspects of personality in check and hidden from the outside world. Not sociopaths, though. While society shuns individuals who are clinically diagnosed as sociopaths, often using their shocking behaviour examples as storylines in big Hollywood blockbusters, the idea of reading a first-hand account of life according to a sociopath was too appealing to turn down.
‘Confessions of a Sociopath’ is a book by M.E. Thomas, a self-diagnosed sociopath. The memoir takes us through pages of her life events; some repulsive, some heinous, and some downright egotistical.
Imagine arriving at a dinner party with friends. You’ve been excited about the social engagement all day. However, you notice a mysterious guest at the table. You turn to the friend on your right and ask who this person is. You’re told that it’s a new partner of the host. Great, you think, and look forward to getting to know them. When the food is served, the guest begins to talk. They talk some more, so much so that partially-chewed food cascades from their mouth. Somebody tries to offer their opinion but the guest continues to talk some more. And more. And more. Until you’re literally so bored, you begin to fantasise about drowning yourself in the gravy bowl.
That’s what reading ‘Confessions of a Sociopath’ is like.
Of course, on the surface, there are interesting elements to the book. It’s almost unheard of for a sociopath – if we are to believe that M.E. Thomas is one – to write an account of their sociopathic tendencies. This is fascinating within itself. It’s true that M.E. Thomas experiences a significant lack of empathy. For example, she cuts off one of her friends who is going through a traumatic experience simply because the woman in question is not fun anymore.
M.E. Thomas’ view of herself is distorted, however, which calls into question the authenticity of the entire book.
She begins the memoir by saying she is a non-violent sociopath. Yet, in the first few chapters, details how she watched a baby possum die and fantasised about killing a metro worker who told her to not use a broken escalator. These aren’t the words of somebody who is in control of themselves, their emotions, or their mental stability.
Back in 2015, after reading this book, I wrote to M.E Thomas. My concern was, through the writing of her blog – which is also about life as a sociopath, she was not attracting fellow sociopaths but people who were searching for somewhere to belong.
The following conversation took place:
Having seen the posts on your blog, I just had a question. Within my understanding of sociopathy, whilst very egocentric, the sociopath does not like to relinquish power (real or perceived) under any circumstances. Do you not think the people who actually post to your blog are giving up their power to you? They wouldn’t be commenting if they didn’t want some kind of approval from you; almost seeing you as a cult figure for them to relate to. It doesn’t seem to be very sociopathic, does it?
The world has become such a cold and cruel place that people who don’t belong and don’t connect with the world and humans as one is “supposed to” often look to minority groups to try and find a place to fit in. Maybe that’s what a lot of people who find their way to your blog to post in the public domain are doing.
I’m not sure I agree with you. I think the people that end up commenting on the blog are just those who are trying to figure out who they are and what is life and the nature of existence and these big philosophical questions and they just happen to think in a way that mirrors the way that I think. I don’t think I’m a coleader because these people have never met me, they only see themselves and what I’ve written, so really I feel like their attempts to communicate are not an attempt to please me, but an attempt to express themselves to themselves, if that makes sense? Of course, you’re probably right regarding a significant portion of the commenters, and maybe I am just deluding myself into thinking that people are anything other than sycophants looking for a place to pigeonhole themselves.
I don’t believe a true sociopath would comment on a blog to answer one of life’s big philosophical questions. Why? Because, simply put, they don’t care. Sociopaths don’t interact with the world like your regular person. They’re not interested in acceptance from their peers. They don’t care about belonging to a group. They’re not afraid to die and, as a result, don’t need to come to a conclusion as to what life really is and where they fit into the grand scheme of things. In the sociopath’s mind, their role is to sit on a pedestal high above everybody else. True, they step down occasionally to take something they want or to leave a trail of emotional chaos but they have absolutely no interest in accepting they’re an ordinary human being.
This is why I don’t believe M.E. Thomas is a sociopath. The entire book, while self indulgent, is an attempt to understand herself and why she doesn’t connect with others. She wants to figure out why she is shunned from society. She wants to explain why she hurts others. She wants to connect with somebody, anybody, through her writing.
This memoir is a cry for help from an individual who is so desperately lonely and distressed, they just want to be understood.
Book Worm’s score: 6.5/10 and an immaculate mask covering a cavernous nothingness underneath