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

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

by M.E. Thomas


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The memoir of a high-functioning, law-abiding (well, mostly) sociopath and a roadmap—right from the source—for dealing with the sociopath in your life.

As M.E. Thomas says of her fellow sociopaths, “We are your neighbors, your coworkers, 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, noncriminal sociopaths and we comprise 4 percent of the American population.”
Confessions of a Sociopath—part confessional memoir, part primer for the curious—takes readers on a journey into the mind of a sociopath, revealing what makes them tick while debunking myths about sociopathy and offering a road map for dealing with the sociopaths in your life. M. E. Thomas draws from her own experiences as a diagnosed sociopath; her popular blog, Sociopathworld; and scientific literature to unveil for the very first time these men and women who are “hiding in plain sight.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307956651
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 05/13/2014
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 126,908
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

M. E. THOMAS is a diagnosed sociopath and the founder of SociopathWorld. She is not a killer. Quite the contrary, she is an accomplished attorney and law professor who writes regularly for major law journals, donates 10 percent of her income to charity, and teaches Sunday school.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I’m a Sociopath and So Are You

If my life were a television show it would start like this: It’s a pleasantly warm summer day in a beautiful southern clime. Sunlight glints off ripples in the pool. The sliding door opens with a gentle rumble. A young woman steps out in her flip-flops and a black Speedo swimming suit. Her dark hair hits just below muscular swimmer’s shoulders. Her skin is darkly tan from lifeguarding at the local municipal pool. She is neither pretty nor ugly, of medium build and with no prominent features. She looks like an athlete; there’s a clumsy tomboyishness about the way she moves, an emotional disconnect with her body. She does not appear to have any feelings about her body, good or bad. She is used to being near-naked, the way athletes are.

Today she is giving a private swim lesson. She flings a towel on a deck chair and kicks off her sandals. There’s a casual recklessness about the way she does these things, as if letting loose wayward objects into the world with abandon. That’s when she notices the ripples on the surface of the water. She sees that there is something moving in the pool.

It is so small that she doesn’t recognize it until she’s close—a baby opossum, probably only a week old, its tiny pink paws frantically paddling, its even tinier pink nose struggling above the surface of the water. The poor thing must have fallen into the pool in the night. It is too little to thrust its tiny body up and over the nearest ledge. The baby’s muscles quake with exhaustion. Even its tiny sparkling eyes look tired; it is on the brink of succumbing to fatigue.

The young woman moves quickly, sliding her sandals back on, and pauses for a moment at the top of the deck. She grabs a net and heads toward the opossum. The camera cuts in as the net lowers, dipping into the surface of the water, catching the baby opossum under the belly just in front of its hind legs. With a quick, almost effortless movement, the net drags the opossum under the surface until its head is fully submerged. The animal thrashes, its tired body now alert to a new threat. It struggles loudly, whimpering and squealing, until it finally manages to free its hindquarters from the lip of the net. But it’s barely able to gasp a breath before the net comes down again. The angle of the net is awkward though, and the animal is able to writhe out of its trap.

The young woman sighs, and the net is lifted. The baby opossum feels relief wash over it for a fraction of a second, only to resume its desperate paddling against the water. The young woman drops the net on the ground, grabs her towel, and heads back inside. Moments later she is on the phone with her private student—today’s lesson is canceled; there is something wrong with the pool. She grabs her keys, flings her front door open, and skips down the stairs to the muscle car that she’s been driving since her sixteenth birthday. The V-8 engine stutters for just a moment, then roars to life. She slams the transmission into reverse, just barely dodging the other cars in the driveway, then takes off, ready to make the most of 3 a newly free summer afternoon.

When she returns home at dusk she sees a dark shadow at the bottom of the pool. She grabs the same net, manages to scoop up the small bundle on the first try, and pitches it over the fence into her neighbor’s yard. She drops an extra chlorine tablet into the pool and heads inside. The camera lingers on the placid pool, no longer interrupted by frantic waves. Fade to black.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Psychological Evaluation Excerpt xi

1 I'm a Sociopath and So Are You 1

2 Diagnosis: Sociopath 25

3 We're Creepy and We're Kooky 59

4 Little Sociopath in the Big World 97

5 I'm a Child of God 124

6 Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers 157

7 Emotions and the Fine Art of Ruining People 199

8 Love Me Not 227

9 Raising Cain 265

Epilogue 289

Acknowledgments 303

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Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
Confessions of a Sociopath was a difficult read, in a way. It wasn't the content or the writing style as much as the tone, which felt a little odd, and at times, disconcerting. It was often cold and very pretentious. After a while, it really grated on my nerves. By the final few chapters, I would catch myself skimming the text and have to reread large portions. I think it would have been wiser of me to take the book in smaller doses, to break it up a bit. But... the content itself was pretty fascinating. It's easy to dismiss psychopaths as "evil" (especially thanks to Hollywood and the media) and not think about them with any more depth than that, but there's actually a pretty wide spectrum. I learned a lot reading this book. I didn't realize there were non-criminal sociopaths, nor did I know they could be as high-functioning as the author. There were some aspects of her story that were hard to believe. I couldn't tell if she was contradicting herself, if she was embellishing things, or if I just wasn't understanding her. Then came the epilogue, and everything that didn't make sense to me before sort of fell into place. I think the parts I had trouble believing were due to differences between how we (author and reader) view the world, not because of an intent to deceive. Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas was an eye-opening book. I wouldn't place it on my favorites list, but I did come away with more knowledge and understanding about a personality disorder I knew little to nothing about. (3 1/2 stars would better reflect my rating)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would first like to say : those of you writing a review for a book you did NOT even read, should NOT be rating or reviewing. I (and I'm sure others) do not care about your personal opinions from you watching the Dr. Phil show. Just because may not agree with or like someone, doesn't mean you can hijack their book review and try to ruin it for the rest of us! If those of you who are doing this would EVEN read before you so rudely rate and review... you WOULD have read the authors reasoning for writing the book along with her addressing manipulation. With that out of the way... (sorry I just get really sick of people doing that to authors and those of us who might just look at the stars if we don't look at the written review. Not just this book, but apps if they don't install correctly, other books if they didn't like the free Friday selection. That is no reason to review a book or app when you're not even basing it on the content!) This book was pretty interesting although a little creepy. I agree with the other review that it is best read in smaller doses, it can become a little boring and hard to grasp at times. I had really no idea what a sociopath was. The book fueled me to do quit a bit of research on my own and I found out a lot of info about psychopaths and sociopaths and the difference between the two. All in all I thought this was a very interesting book from the perspective of a sociopath (she does reference quite a few books written by specialized doctors so for those of you who think evil and sociopath go hand-in-hand you can look for yourself). If you have any interest in psychology or human behavior, then I think this would be a really good read for those of you. If I could a would have given the book 3 & 1/2 stars.
Saga61 More than 1 year ago
Boring. I would say the author is more of a narcissist than sociopath. She's very invested in being a sociopath- I get it, it's rather exotic, dangerous sounding, etc. To those who can slog through the agonizingly long and boring accounts of her childhood, congratulations. I'll confess that the opening to the book did make me squirm, although I'm not certain why. I have no problem dispatching nuisance animals on my rural property. Perhaps it was the baby "cuteness" factor of the toddler opossum in her pool. As for being able to cut off all ties to friends when there's too little of their time and emotional presence to sustain the relationship, that seems like a normal, human thing to me. So much of what she considers proof of her "otherness" doesn't seem that bizarre. The author is clearly fascinated with herself. Unfortunately, I was unable to join in and appreciate the wonder that is Ms. Thomas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the whole book not just the internet excerpts. Reading to the end was the best part. It took about two weeks and at times I read way too late in the night as I wanted to finish a chapter and then started another chapter. The author has a high opinion of herself but if she truly graduated from a top tier law school, worked for a large LA law firm and taught as a Law school professor then she really is a high achiever. There was absolutely no humility until at the end of the book. The EGO is huge. Other reviews about animal cruelty, sex, and creepy physical violence misstate the book. We kill gophers don't we? How can a story about allowing a baby nuisance animal drown in the family swimming pool equate to killing the family pet. Kissing strange men in Brazil does not seem that salacious. The sex is not explicit. With the authors professed virginity through her teenage years and Mormon moral "lines" it is unclear how far her "seductions" really went? Lots of talk of kissing but is she really having affairs? The real heart of this book is the lack of emotions and the total lack of typical quilt boundaries. WOW, this is very reveling, looking into someones mind to find out how they think and why they do what they do. I was like a voyeur wanting to know the next juicy tidbit and thought at times that more could be revealed in the story line. The BAD: the book is repetitive and preachy at times. ME really wants us to like her and is trying to be a Joan of Arc spokesperson for understanding for her disability. She seems to change her point of view as the book progresses. She starts off angry with her parents, the world, and wanting to take vicious advantage of friends, acquaintances and family. By the end of the book she is talking about the good things in her life, how well her parents raised her and how sociopath children should be raised. I had to go back and reread sections to see if this was completely contradictory or if there was an arc progressing through her story. I concluded that she was being as honest as she could be, for a crazy sociopath, and that the two different points of view were consistent with who she now is compared to where she started on her journey. The GOOD. I liked the side paths about the scientific evolution of "sociopathy" and wished the book had footnotes so I could look at the sources. Sprinkled throughout the book were thoughtful comments about assorted things that made me read them twice. She has thought about her POV and has something to say. As a story, it was a waste of time until the end when she talks about wanting to have children and how she would raise a genetically probable sociopath. In the end the struggle for a socio without emotions and normal quilt to want to have a family and want to raise children in the best way possible was a story of redemption. She claims to be active in her strict church, teaching Sunday School, claims to be sexually abstinent at this time and says she loves her nieces and nephews. She compliments her parents on doing the right things in raising her even though this was done by their own self interest and not through some intentional desire to do good parenting. By the end there is a picture of a flawed human trying to do the best and I found this uplifting. My version of the book lacked an appendix,quoted on the internet, did Barnes cheat me?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What began to sink in as I plodded through this dry tome was that the author, in lacking empathy, automatically lacked the humanity to employ genuine humor, to spin an interesting anecdote or simply to engage regular folks like myself. The hundred or so pages I read before throwing in the towel read like an essay by a very sophisticated computer program. Dull as paint. Dry as a bone.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Because I'm generally interested in things psychological and sociological, I found this book an interesting look into a diagnosis I had no idea existed. It was both insighful and a bit frightening - the fact that there were cases out there of people diagnosed with non-criminal sociopathic tendencies was a total surprise to me. I recommend this book only to those who find such things interesting and helpful.
BBCloverMA More than 1 year ago
After wading through most of this story, I wondered if the author was just having a good laugh at those of us who "anted up" and bought it. Perhaps that's the whole point? I'd recommend you pass on this one. There are better books about sociopaths; lots better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although the book reitterated the same basics points many times, it was a decent read. After having encountered more sociopaths than I would like to admit, and being hurt by them in the process, it was eye opening to see the logical way they go about their exploitations. Although I agree that sociopaths have a right to be a part of a law abiding society ( as long as they are law abiding) I wouldn't say its reasonable to hold close relationships with them, especially if you are volnurable and trusting. It may be nessecary to have some contact, if you have to, but avoidance should be used. The author definetly uses the audience's ability to empathize to gain likeability but that is just a tactic so that she and her group can be more vocal about how great they are. In my opinion, sociopaths do not add to society as she suggests, but this is not a witch hunt either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found no boring parts and found this book highly entertaining.
YourEvilAngel More than 1 year ago
The book had a great flow & at the end of it, you don't LOVE the author but don't HATE them either. It just helped to understand how they were looking at the same things in a different way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...but if everything she writes is true, I'm not about to flat out criticize it. I will say the first half of the book is a good read for almost everyone interested in human behavioral variation. Warning to the easily shocked; the opening scene is startling and unsettling in a way that makes Stephen King seem like an amateur.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting read. I would say, being a neuropsychology major, I did find her balance between fact and experience refreshing. It isn't up to us (non-sociopaths) to determine these facets and determinations.  I think the wicked truth this piece presents is the ambiguity of nonrecognition of an individual we want to be able to spot. Sociopaths and Psychopaths can be normal, law abiding citizens.  Very quick read, and very telling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the most fascinating nonfiction book I've ever had the pleasure of reading. There is so much depth---both intended and unintended. The criticisms the book has received (the author's callousness, narcissism, and contradicting statements) are actually perfect examples of the way a sociopath’s mind works. You really need to read between the lines to fully appreciate this book for what it is---certainly not a literary masterpiece, but you could not ask for a more enlightening raw display of the psychology behind a sociopath’s thought process. If you read this book in a constant state of analysis of the author’s claims (skeptically but not cynically), you will not be disappointed.
ladyleal More than 1 year ago
Confessions of a sociopath is about the author who was diagnosed as a sociopath and she explains how sociopaths think and how they can be dealt when faced with one. It’s a fast read book, but it drags on a little because the author tends to repeat the same idea over and over again to the point of me saying “yah I know I get you ok”..  The first few chapters are interesting because you will be amazed on how they think of their selves as superior to others and there’s this air of confidence that would make you think that it’s too much boasting. But that’s the point of the book, I mean sociopaths are very confident and they think that they can please everyone with their charm. The author really made it clear that sociopaths doesn’t always connect with people and the book doesn’t connect to me either. It’s interesting and very educational but  I think that she could just make the book a little short and less on the bragging about her extremely magnetic personality, charming and very persuasive character. 
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
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.   Allison @ The Book Wheel
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fred5962 More than 1 year ago
If you can try to drown a baby opossum in a pool, find that the opossum won't drown, leave it struggling in the pool to go shopping, come back to find that it had drowned, and be glad, then you may be a sociopath. You'll find Ms. Thomas' stories like this one in her book. And you may start wondering about yourself, as I did.
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