Spotting a Sociopath
by M.E. Thomas, author of Confessions of a Sociopath
As author and diagnosed sociopath 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!).”
M.E. Thomas put together these real-life scenarios to take you on a journey into the mind of a sociopath, giving you a glimpse – for the very first time – of a group of people “hiding in plain sight.” Can you spot a sociopath? Continue reading and find out.
SCENARIO #1. Veronica is trying to make it to a friend’s wedding, but she leaves too late and gets stuck in a blizzard. Rather than turn back around, she keeps driving, and drives too fast for the conditions. After trying unsuccessfully to pass a truck, her car veers off the road and gets stuck in a snowdrift. She tries unsuccessfully to dislodge the car herself, until she is picked up by a police officer who drops her off at the nearest gas station, suggesting that she stay the night in an adjacent motel. Instead, she flags down the next trucker leaving the station and hitchhikes the rest of the two-hour drive.
COULD VERONICA BE A SOCIOPATH? M.E. THOMAS SAYS “YES.” It’s possible that Veronica is just a very well-meaning friend who knows that it is important for her to attend the wedding and be supportive. In this case, though, Veronica is a sociopath who is attending the wedding so she can show up the bride. She would have turned back, perhaps, if she realized that the whole trip was going to be more trouble than it was worth, but her mind doesn’t register risks the same way that a normal mind might. She saw nothing unusually risky about driving in a blizzard, passing trucks on a snowed-in highway, being stuck in a snowdrift, or hitchhiking with a stranger. And because she is used to things working out her way (or close enough), she may never learn to see those things for the risks that they are.
SCENARIO #2. Alan’s co-worker confesses that she has been on the kidney donor transplant list for the past three years and undergoes weekly dialysis. Alan immediately offers his own kidney. Her doctors don’t even consider him because obvious differences in race and size make him an unsuitable candidate.
COULD ALAN BE A SOCIOPATH? THOMAS SAYS “YES.” This could be altruism (for obvious reasons) or it could be sociopathic. According to Alan, “I’m not 100% sure why I made that offer. I was ready to be tested if it came to that, but of course I assumed it wouldn’t – I assumed correctly. But just making the gesture sealed her to me. I’d be lying if I said I planned it all that way. I knew there would be some advantage of course, but not the extent of it or how useful she would actually end up being to me years later.” I would randomly donate my kidney too, probably, except that I would be worried that there would be a better, more profitable or clutch opportunity to donate my kidney in the future but I would have already blown the opportunity.
SCENARIO #3. Pam is a ballroom dancer. She marries Gary, a gay dancer. She is very proud of him because he makes her look like a million bucks. Gary spends all of her money, wrecking her credit rating.
COULD PAM BE A SOCIOPATH? THOMAS SAYS “NO.” Maybe this is an example of a poor unsuspecting woman being swindled out of her money by a sociopath. In this situation, however, she is a narcissist, and he is just an opportunist gold digger deciding he would rather be rich and in a false marriage than poor and completely free. As a narcissist, the most important thing to Pam is how she appears to others, not the daily reality of her life, and so she is never really victimized. They both got what they wanted: – her the admiration of others; him the money. A sociopath wouldn’t need to marry a gay man to look charming and desirable, but even if she did, she certainly wouldn’t be proud of him.
SCENARIO #4. Alice went to a printing shop late at night and was crunched for time. After doing what she needed to do, she went to leave but realized her keys had been locked in the car. She called a locksmith, but decided to break the driver’s window instead of wasting time waiting for the locksmith to arrive. She also failed to call the locksmith, to do him the courtesy of telling him he shouldn’t bother coming. Alice made it back in time to finish her project by the deadline.
COULD ALICE BE A SOCIOPATH? THOMAS SAYS “YES.” Maybe this is a quick-thinking person with remarkable presence of mind to make tough (and violent) decisions based on a quick cost benefit analysis. In this situation, however, it is a sociopath making an impulsive decision based on the immediate exigencies of a situation. According to Alice, “I had the window fixed the next day with a stolen credit card. The card was taken from a wallet I found in the parking lot of the print shop.”