The Socialized Sociopath

9780307956651Short Review of Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas: Read It. It’s a fascinating and cogently written look inside the machinations of a certified non-violent sociopath. You’ll learn and you’ll be intrigued, but don’t expect to get any emotional satisfaction out of the relationship. It will leave you with the feeling that you know more, but you still can’t fix it. Your only hope is to protect yourself.

Why did I choose this book? After reading the blurb on the back I was pretty sure that my former boss is a sociopath:

“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.”

My boss wasn’t just grumpy or calculating or a bitch. And it wasn’t like it was personal–people in her control were merely resources to be manipulated. So many times I heard her described as a robot with no capacity for feelings. She looked perfect on the surface, but dead behind the eyes. The laugh always a half step behind. No small talk.

There are a hundred examples of The Crazy, but here’s the one that left me utterly stunned. One of our team had to leave town suddenly because his child was facing the loss of a child. Even the Army cuts you some slack in a tragedy like that. Our boss’ reaction? She wanted him written up for not getting the time off approved first.

The glib charm–check. The risk-taking gamesmanship–check. A “seek and destroy” attitude toward anyone who opposed her–check. Walking away after her hubris left the place in a clustercuss of massive proportions–check.

After it was over, we all kind of looked at each other like, “What the hell? How did we get sucked up in this storm of crazy?” We were played.

Confessions of a Sociopath isn’t an apology–it’s an inventory. The author explains what it’s like to be a sociopath at work, in school, in church, in relationships. I agree with her–being born a sociopath is another natural variation, like being born deaf, autistic. The same variation that gives us sauvants and empaths gives us people with an incapacity for feelings.

Reading this book gave me some measure of clarity about that boss and now I can move on from it. But there’s no redress. There’s no grievance filed. She’s moved on to her next game and we’re left to clean up and rebuild the damage she left in her wake.  Part of that work is rebuilding our own belief in ourselves.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

4 thoughts on “The Socialized Sociopath

  1. Dan Davis

    I had to learn to identify them early in my particular line of work, it’s a necessary survival skill. After 40 years I would estimate more than 4 %. But hey! Maybe I’m just unlucky…

    1. Support

      That’s one thing this book doesn’t address–the way that sociopaths contribute to crime. The author is trying to argue that sociopaths like herself aren’t criminals, but that ignores the fact that many ARE.

  2. Julie Booth

    After dating one last year, I’ve become far more fascinated and attuned to recognizing these individuals. I would also say there are probably more than 4% in the population!


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