Your book was phenomenal. Maybe it's a side-effect of a good narrative, but I was slightly unnerved by how much I could identify with your behaviors and observations. One reason why I suspect I enjoyed your story so much is not due to possible overlaps of sociopathy, but that we may share the same personality index from the enneagram. Are you familiar with the enneagram? As a profound "7-type," or "enthusiast" the pattern of trying many things, extreme sports, professions, people to date, and then getting bored and moving on to something else is a quintessential feature. Apparently this type can exist independently of the presence or absence of a "personality disorder." *** As far as the enneagram thing goes, I believe there's a lot to unpack there with its relation to sociopathy. In short, the enneagram is a sort of more useful version of the Meyers Briggs to determine useful career paths. One of them is the "enthusiast" another monicker for a sensation seeker/ creative type. I know the enneagram seems cheesy, but after I guessed every one of my friends' type at law school (They are mostly 8s and 1s) and they took the test I was right each time. But I truly wonder how ubiquitous sensation seeking is among sociopaths. I figure there are risk averse socios out there, or maybe not? I'd like to hear what you think about this. All being said, you strike me as an enthusiast. You hated being bored in a law office (while this should be self evident for any normal human being, everyone I worked with seemed content with their corner office lives). You did the bare minimum to pass school and the bar while maximizing your vacation time. You enjoyed sexual exploration. And you showed the creativity to write a book and lead a cool blog. Those are all qualities of an enthusiast.
A few key moments: 1) 40:40 The interrogator explains that Russell is busted and that he ought to cooperate in order to look more human. Our colonel fails to understand that cooperating because the jig is up *is* in his rational self-interest, and coldly recounting the disgusting-to-normal-people facts doesn't make him appear sympathetic or human. If anything, it makes him seem like a psychopath (42:20). 2) 52:08 I'm concerned that they are tearing apart my wife's brand new house. This guy cares about his wife and his cat. He doesn't care about the victims or their families. He confesses, supposedly to help his wife. He and the wife later took action to transfer their assets to her - so as to protect their assets from the families of the victims. My sense: he cares about himself, his wife and his cat - and pretty much nobody else. (54:43) I want to minimize the impact on my wife. 3) 55:50 "got a map" - having decided that he's busted, when asked to say where the body is, he says, "got a map". For the empaths, this is apparently proof that the guy is very callous - having decided to cooperate, he cooperates. 4) 58:30 the investigator tries to convince Russell that he is "doing the right thing" by confessing. Russell immediately affirms that he is confessing to help his wife and her family. I suspect this is a bit narcissistic. 4) 2:08 "As I described I suffocated her using duct tape." 5) 2:38 - talking about suffocating her, how she died, etc. Quite cold. My sense is the guy is a high-anxiety (secondary) psychopath: http://psych.wisc.edu/newman/SecurePDF/Harmon-Jones_Revision_v4.pdf He got addicted to burglarizing and assaulting women. If he was low-anxiety, he'd have "played" at work with all the men and women he could have easily seduced. That would have been easier than breaking into homes to steal fetish items and sexually assault and murder people. I think that explains why he's so tense about his self-image. If he was low-anxiety, he'd be looking forward to a life of not having to work, not having to make decisions - basically permanent vacation compliments of the Canadian government. He's high-anxiety, so he gives a shit - and suffers. To the extent that he seems unemotional, my guess is that he's focused on the content of his speech. Empaths wouldn't be able to focus on the mission like this guy. He's decided his mission is to confess (for the sake of his wife), so he tries to do it. This whole thing is eery for me and my friend; we recognize that but for the grace of god, we'd be like this guy. We don't empathize with his victims, we empathize with this guy and are a bit sad that he screwed up his life so badly. And yeah, it does suck the women got victimized. But this guy was actually kicking ass as a colonel. He was being productive - until he threw it all away.
I'm an academic with a background in pharmacology/neuroscience, and somewhat unsurprisingly as one of your readers, a sociopath. After becoming self aware, I became increasingly fixated on understanding the concept and any sort of serious academic investigation makes it very obvious that the current understanding of the 'disorder' is completely substandard and relies both on reams of terrible a priori reasoning and ridiculous qualitative moral judgements. After spending a while reading (thanks for writing your blog, it was a huge help) and thinking about things, I began to seriously question the prevailing academic ideas around the disorder - I also began to identify some of my peers as possibly sociopathic, and after carefully approaching the topic confirmed that all of the people I had suspected were, in fact, either sociopaths, BPD sufferers, or narcissists. After interacting with various individuals and quizzing person after person (in appropriately controlled ways and avoiding identifying any sociopathic traits myself) I've begun to steadily build my own picture of things. In the long run, I'd like to seriously research into this area and try to break down the ridiculous modern consensus, but at the moment I'm far too junior to publish ideas that controversial. As a result, I've started writing my own blog in an attempt to communicate my ideas and also just to get my thoughts on paper - which is at questioningsociopathy.com. I'm sending you this email because I am rather curious as to what your opinion of my site will be, and also as something of a thank you for providing the idea to start a blog as a way to communicate my ideas. Thanks for your time!