Ever been in conversation with a total narcissist asshole and wonder “What the hell is going through your head right now?” Confessions of a Sociopath is your chance to peek into the mind of an extremely unsympathetic, self-aggrandizing person.
M.E Thomas does not reveal gender or real name; the book is written under a pseudonym, though the writer presents as a She. This is supported by the wonderfully apt book cover depicting the mask of a female face. It makes the narrative less credible, though, especially when claims of grandeur generously pepper the pages. She’s a high powered lawyer, she says, though a lazy one at that. She thinks sociopaths are misunderstood and painted as murderous crazies in the media, though she begins the book by describing a childhood incident in which she was responsible for the death of a possum. She’s always in search of opportunities to ruin lives, but she also alleges that there are things she’s done that she still can’t talk about because they would involve law enforcement and ruin the careers of her peers. Huh? So you keep the juiciest parts of your story to yourself still, even if you’re writing anonymously? She’s oh, so charismatic and charming, a skilled liar, a cunning manipulator. Love interests and business associates don’t stand a chance. In short, she thinks she’s greater than great. And she keeps repeating this notion one annoying anecdote after another. I felt myself getting defensive. I’ve met the likes of her before. I was neither tricked nor turned on by them, even though they thought they were the shit. You cannot fool me, M.E. Thomas or whatever your real name is. You are so freakin’ self-important and unlikable, it makes my ears steam.
And that is the point. A sociopath’s inner monologue would probably not be an empathetic, sweet one that is full of self-awareness. This makes the memoir an incredibly fascinating read. I love memoirs for this reason. It gives me a chance to be in conversation with people and draw from their experiences and their thoughts when crafting my own characters. Short of interviewing a sociopath in person, this is the best way to get an honest perspective, unhindered by outside influences.
I recommend this book as a character study. As long as you realize whose thoughts you are reading, and grant yourself some quality time doing soothing, loving things in between your reading sessions, you should be fine. Don’t get annoyed. Power through. It’s interesting and off-putting at the same time. It’s not the best piece of writing I have ever encountered (for example, the interpretations of the studies she quotes seem fishy), but it’s worthwhile and useful if you’re trying to expand your horizon as a writer.
Also published on Medium.