Hmmm. Something about this book, and the website of the author (SociopathWorld) is not quite right. The descriptions are jaw-droppingly delicious, beautifully described, gorgeous, sexy, frightening and disturbing. It’s great writing, very compelling, and you are drawn right into the head of a sociopath.
It was not okay. In explaining their horrible actions, people often say that they “just snapped.” I know that feeling. I stood there for a moment, letting my rage reach that decision-making part of my brain, and I suddenly became filled with a sense of calm purpose. I blinked my eyes and set my jaw. I started following him. Adrenaline started flowing; my mouth tasted metallic. I fought to keep my peripheral vision in focus, hyperaware of everything around me, trying to predict the movement of the crowd. I was hoping that he would walk into a deserted hallway where I would find him alone. I felt so sure of myself, so focused on this one thing I had to do. An image sprang to mind: my hands wrapped around his neck, my thumbs digging deep into his throat, his life slipping away under my unrelenting grasp. How right that would feel. But I know I had been caught in a megalomaniacal fantasy. And in the end it didn’t matter; I lost sight of him.
Or are you?
What doesn’t seem right is that very style. It’s certainly grandiose and embellished, as any tale by a sociopath would be. However, is this the way that anyone describes their own life (such in their own memoirs)?
I suppose the answer is “sort of”- there are people (for example those who write their sexual exploits for XOJane, Jezebel, such as the odious Cat Marnell) who write in a version of that long narrative style. These people are generally histrionic, attention-seeking, rich, media savvy people who are also classic unreliable narrators. Did Cat Marnell really do coke off a stripper’s vagina at the age of 19 while being livestreamed doing DVDA porn in-between editing other peoples’ columns about eyeshadow or whatever it is she claims to have done? Who really cares? This category of internet columnist trolls are generally not particularly good writers and instead sell their work based on shock value, like a sort of disaster-porn.
The other group of people who tend to write beautiful, long prose about their lives as if it was a novel are… well… those who are writing fiction. Especially those who write hoax memoirs or blogs such as “Gay Girl in Damascus“. It’s amazing, actually, how well written some of it is, given its literary status as atrocity-porn-propaganda.
Generally what gives away the hoax memoirs (other than the authors not turning up to celebrity appearances) is also that while well-written, elements of the story are simply unbelievable, jarring, too dramatic. There’s a bizarrely compelling component to these strange details, like Anthony Godby Johnson being deliberately infected with HIV by his parents (neglect, sexual abuse, ‘punishment’ all make sense in terms of gain for the parents but deliberate infection with HIV does not- unless the gain is for the author).
So I suppose we wait with bated breath to see what the book is actually like.
Sociopathy has become a pretty hot topic lately- even more so than usual- with books such as Jon Ronson‘s “The Psychopath Test“, the release of DSM-V which has reinstated sociopathy as a personality disorder and quite the number of crime shows exploring the underlying psychology of those who commit heinous and serial crimes. With the increasing recognition of the “functional sociopath” – the rate of sociopathy in the business world is 4% or twice that in the general population (the rate is 50% in rapists) – what is missing is an account from the perspective of the sociopath. How do these strange, guiltless, empathy-less, superficially charming monsters think and behave?
In a world where there are many paths to publication but where it is still very difficult to do, a popular blog cum novel makes sense. If this book is indeed a hoax, I would bet that the writer is very intelligent, works in either the healthcare industry or academia (and is definitely university educated), is media-savvy and may have written works that were not published before.
- Understanding the Sociopath: Cause, Intention, Relationships (psychologytoday.com)
- A Diagnosed Sociopath Says Her Disorder Made Her A ‘Great Lawyer’ (businessinsider.com)
- Sources And Dr. Phil Offer Insights Author Of ‘Confessions of a Sociopath,’ Who Might Be This Law Professor (abovethelaw.com)