• Confessions of a Sociopath

  • A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight
  • By: M. E. Thomas
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Sullivan
  • Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (695 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

As M. E. Thomas says of her fellow sociopaths, we are your neighbors, co-workers, 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, non-criminal sociopaths and we comprise 4% of the American population (that's 1 in 25 people!).

Confessions of a Sociopath takes listeners on a journey into the mind of a sociopath, revealing what makes the tick and what that means for the rest of humanity. Written from the point of view of a diagnosed sociopath, it unveils these men and women who are "hiding in plain sight" for the very first time.

Confessions of a Sociopath is part confessional memoir, part primer for the wary. Drawn from Thomas' own experiences; her popular blog, Sociopathworld.com; and current and historical scientific literature, it reveals just how different - and yet often very similar - sociopaths are from the rest of the world. The book confirms suspicions and debunks myths about sociopathy and is both 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, be it a boss, sibling, parent, spouse, child, neighbor, colleague or friend.

As Thomas argues, while sociopaths aren't like everyone else, and it's true some of them are incredibly dangerous, they are not inherently evil. In fact, they're potentially more productive and useful to society than neurotypicals or "empaths", as they fondly like to call "normal" people. Confessions of a Sociopath demystifyies sociopathic behavior and provides listeners with greater insight on how to respond or react to protect themselves, live among sociopaths without becoming victims, and even beat sociopaths at their own game, through a bit of empathetic cunning and manipulation.

©2013 M. E. Thomas (P)2013 Random House Audio

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What listeners say about Confessions of a Sociopath

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Profoundly misunderstood. Frightening.

I loved this book, but judging by the reviews, I don't think a lot of people "get it." I so rarely write reviews, but they're very helpful for me when trying to figure out what to buy, here I am.

It is a first person memoir written by a "diagnosed sociopath". It is questionable the extent that she has psychopathic anti-social personality disorder, or whether she is just a extreme, malignant narcissist with lots of anti-social traits.

Some are fixated on whether or not statements she makes are "true or false," or the nature of her diagnosis. The whole point of it though is that it's written by someone who -- herself -- has a hard time with parsing her own narrative, who admittedly has no "self," who is constantly engaging in self-deception both unknowingly and knowingly. The book exists on three layers. (1) What "actually happened" (which you can sometimes read between the lines of her stories), (2) what "she really believes happened" (which is completely opaque and impossible to know), and (3) what she "tells us happened" which is what you get here: every detail is completely self-serving, cherry picked for facts that prove her points, etc.

Just one of elements that makes the book great: the intense unreliability of the narrator who lucidly and repeatedly explains her constant need to manipulate but also seems to have a complete blind spot that the readers wouldn't read the entire contents of this book as overt manipulation.

Looking past the manipulation, the book is pretty amazing because it captures narcissism so well. A lot of people on Goodreads and Audible hate it because it's so mundane. I imagine they're looking for a serial killer memoir or the like. But this truly captures the mundane inanity and contradictions of narcissism.

The endless repetition to the point that entire sentences are repeated from one chapter to another. The casual lying. The constant contradictions: "I'm a very good driver" in one chapter followed by many examples of her self-acknowledging that she is a very bad driver but that doesn't matter. The appeals to "logic" when every logical connundrum basically is resolved by allowing her to do whatever she wants in the moment. Her vision that she is infinitely rational when every action she describes is arbitrary and impulsive.

The only place where true darkness of the book comes through is the chapter on her childhood. She is adamant that she was never abused by her parents and credits her parents with how successful she is as an adult. But she casually describes patterns of abuse, neglect, psychopathy, and narcissism in her parents. Her vision of this as perfectly normal and her describing this as basically good parenting suggest that what she describes in that chapter is very real.

The book is ostensibly written to "clear the air" on negative feelings toward sociopaths. But in reality, it's her narcissistic self aggrandizement of someone who -- on some level -- believes that their diagnosis is actually a superpower. For a book where although almost nothing "of interest" happens, it's genuinely frightening. And it's surprisingly well written. But I guess that should be the case because her internal world is the only subject that she considers worth intimate study.

This is not a book about a killer, but it is a book about someone who would kill if a reasonable opportunity for social mobility through killing presented itself. It's a book about someone who excels at guile and cunning who makes one of the strongest cases I've read to *support* avoiding relationships with sociopathic people (or at least narcissists). Probably not something if you're interested in a "true crime" potboiler. But this is the real life American Psycho: but only the 85% of the book that people forget about where Bateman isn't killing people, and instead just talking about how good he looks in brand name business suits. That's where the real demon is.

I imagine she probably reads every review of the book, so hello Ms. Thomas. Thank you for a fantastic 10 hour experience.

15 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interested in this book in spite of the author

This book was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I expected the author to tell stories of her sociopathic antics in essay format (examples of how she "ruined" people). She does include stories, but they are in no particular order and are mixed with her self indulgent delusions about herself and life in general. Her narcissistic delusions could be left out as they detract creditability. She frequently contradicts herself: she is capable of learning from her own mistakes, however she cannot use knifes because she was not able to teach herself to be careful with them; she frequently comments on her beauty, but also how plain she looks; she is a good lawyer, but she was fired from her law firm for under preforming, just to list some of the most obvious.

Mental disorders are one of my favorite topics, so a first person account was extremely intriguing to me. In all honesty, I would have completed this book regardless of how narcissistic the author was. I would recommend this book to anyone fascinated by mental disorders who want to learn more and can tolerate some nauseating self absorption in the process.

32 people found this helpful

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Not a sociopath!

I was really excited about this book after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. As a practicing psychologist, I was eager to learn more about sociopathy, especially from the perspective of someone who copes with it. I could not have been more disappointed, however. I do not believe the author is sociopath; rather, she comes off as a typical, uninsightful, arrogant narcissist who lacks self-awareness.

31 people found this helpful

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Really?

What disappointed you about Confessions of a Sociopath?

The book was very disorganized with examples and thoughts in a stream that made little sense. Just when I thought something productive and interesting was about to be discussed, the subject changed. Sorry I bought it but am still interested in the topic.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Back to mysteries for a while. And some biography.

How could the performance have been better?

Less smug.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger.

Any additional comments?

Nope. That's it.

13 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I call bullsh*t. This is fiction.

Any additional comments?

This book seems less like a nonfiction account of someone's life and more like a movie script. Listen to it high and then it will become more interesting. I like the book on the whole, but I don't believe the author is a sociopath.

17 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Baloney

What disappointed you about Confessions of a Sociopath?

Lots of contradictions. I think she thinks it would be cool to be a sociopath, rather than is one. A lot of what she describes is a result of living in the Mormon culture.

What was most disappointing about M. E. Thomas’s story?

More narcissistic than anything else.

What didn’t you like about Bernadette Sullivan’s performance?

Unsure - don't know if she represents the author's voice.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Confessions of a Sociopath?

3/5 of it is repeat.

15 people found this helpful

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Pointless and repetitive

I don't doubt the author is a sociopath, and that many of her claims are perfectly reasonable. My issue with this book is the rambling and less than interesting way that the author goes about detailing her sociopathy.

I was intrigued by the portrayl of life through the eyes of somebody who likely sees the world very differently than I do. Tricky to do, and I should have been suspicious, but in any case, I was interested. Unfortunatley I don't believe the author pulls it off. I like the idea that a book like this one adds something to my world view - what I found instead, was hours of rambling, repetive and unininsigtful person recountings of life events that are told impersonally and in my opinion, poorly. That aside, by the end of the book, not only did I feel that the author had simply been repeating herself over and over again, but the random and unorganized way in which the account took place made it hard for me to feel as though any sort of coherent backbone of the book ever solidified. By the end, I don't feel that my worldview has changed or I am in any way a more enlightened person.

While I can't claim to like the author or relate to her, her alienness never made itself all that apparent to me. Maybe this was her intention all along, but in my opinion, it makes the enitre book seem a little unnecessary. And that aside, I don't really enjoy the idea that by the authors own reasoning, stated again and again in the pages of this book, aren't to make you understand sociopathy (by definition, she really doesn't care what you think), but simply to take your money. My advice: Spend it elsewhere.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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If I could give my brain a long, hot shower

What did you like best about Confessions of a Sociopath? What did you like least?

I Loved the contradictions and internal disconnect -- I've rarely seen the concept of a person without empathy more clearly acted out. For someone to express that they are broken, abused and stunted while at the same time crowing that they are the apex and possibly an improved part of the human condition -- yes, that's these people at their most two dimensional. What I liked least was the lingering feeling of pity. The mood brought on by reading hung on after like a bad smell.

Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

The concepts were overexplained and the book could have gotten in and out in a much shorter time.

14 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Well... She's a sociopath...

In the author's description of her diagnosis she mentions grandiose confabulating as one of the symptoms. It is possible to consider the possibility that some of the more wonderful and intriguing recollections and accounts of her nature and its fantastic expressions in her life might possibly be qualities the author might have if her ideals were actualized in reality. It would be a mistake however to let this color ones entire opinion of the author's veracity while reading this book. There are confessions which I believe are likely not effected or are outside of the purview of the question of veracity, Things like reactions to events, or feelings about interactions specific to someone with a sociopathic mind are not the sort of data particularly amenable to distortion by grandiose imaginings. Of course just as I believe she herself predicts about the reactions of readers to her story, I found myself disliking her, to the extent that I avoided the book for a week. It may also be that the narrator Bernadette Sullivan is doing such a good job of sounding emotionally neutral and somewhat overly confident that her voice reads as "cold" and a bit unnervingly "emotionless", or perhaps I should say, "compassionless." This is the reason I gave her performance 5 stars and the story only 3. Ms. Sullivan's performance made me feel I was listening to the sociopathic author reading her own work. But as my reading progressed I found myself recognizing a number of sociopath traits in myself. M.E. also predicts this for a number of her readers. But I believe it is a common human characteristic to have a number of different personalities, so to speak, perhaps some of them sociopaths, which alternate throughout the day, and are taken together as a conglomerate entity, equaling one person, one personality. My version of this is already somewhat more compartmentalized than the average person, but that is a matter for my own "Confessions" book, should I ever write one, In the end I found it to be a quite interesting look into the decidedly different mind translation of the field of reality, which we all quite unconsciously interpret in our own way. The difference being that an average person's emotional experience of a situation is close enough to that of another average person that the reality experienced "seems" to be the same one. It is in fact the same causal world experienced by a deep sea fish which "sees" with a self generated field of electromagnetic energy, However it's clear that the fish's view of things, though equally valid, is radically different from the average human perceived experience. We think that because someone approaches us in a human body, that the person is essentially experiencing the same world that we are. This can be quite a profound misapprehension. In any case though I can not say I "enjoyed" the book, I found it truly interesting, and it is provocative to now compare the "set" of sociopath characteristics outlined in the book against people that I see all around me, including myself.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • OC
  • 08-11-16

Excellent book

Very engaging material , hypnotically read.
Strongly recommend as adjunct to 'sociopath next door' and 'psychopath free'

2 people found this helpful