I could sense this was true about life, even at the age of four or so. I could choose to take charge of my life, to leverage my time, talents, and health, and to potentially profit or die trying. (p.76)
I think it’s more interesting why I chose to buy a house for my closest friend, or gave my brother $10,000 the other day, just because. I recently got an e-mail from a friend with terminal cancer, saying I give the most thoughtful and useful gifts and how she is so grateful to know me. I am considered a very helpful and considerate professor and am consistently rated one of the best in the school. I am devoutly religious. I am functionally a good person and yet I am not motivated or constrained by the same things that most good people are. Am I monster? I prefer to believe that you and I simply occupy different points on the spectrum of humanity. ( p.24)
Memoirs are popular. Memoirs are fashionable to write. Memoirs sell well. (Tough to say if they are fiction or the truth, but that is a never ending debate.) I like reading memoirs. They tell you about the person, more about their socio-cultural context. Or at least what the person chooses to tell you about their life. Confessions of a Sociopath is a chilling account by a successful lawyer and professor. She is a Mormon, who is well respected and good at her work. I found the memoir disturbing (and gripping). It is a frightening realisation that there are such cold-hearted, emotionless and manipulative people in the world who on the face of it are charming individuals. There are no violent incidents documented in M.E. Thomas’s life. Nothing extraordinary. It is merely the cold, heartless, calculating and precise manner in which she documents her life that takes one’s breath away. I was unable to read it from beginning to end at one go. I had to keep pausing and resume my reading. I was left struggling with the question — how candid is she in this memoir? Or is she manipulating the reader’s emotions as she does with people around her? Frankly I am not surprised that this book has become a success.
M. E. Thomas Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight Crown Publishers, Pan Macmillan, Great Britain, 2013. Pb. pp. 310 £12.99