book is officially out in North America. To celebrate, I thought I would share some source material that I collected to write the book. This is from an email from the friend who first mentioned the word "sociopath" to me:
I remember when you first walked in the office we shared. Weren't you wearing flipflops? I was trying to counsel you on how to behave yourself around the office.
So, as far as my arm-chair sociopath diagnosis goes, I remember the following things:
(1) I would exercise my charm on people around the office, including our boss. (What was her name? I can't remember anymore.) You would observe me do this and comment on it. Like, complimentary comments. I thought about that and the way you watched me, as if you were analyzing the interactions. It reminded me of the way another sociopath friend would analyze how I interacted with people and try to integrate it into his repertoire. But you had charms of your own, of course.
(2) Your penchant for law and economics and how we would argue about the lack of humanity in the system. I remember I told you the story of my first-year law school class and how our teacher asked how we might assign ownership of property besides "first-in-time." People suggested things like first-in-merit, a lottery, etc. I raised my hands and suggested "first-in-need." Everyone stared at me and the prof didn't even write it on the board! When I told you the story, you gave me a look like you couldn't imagine why an intelligent person like me would say something like that . . .
(3) Your attitude toward law school and your job was so . . . emotionally detached. I don't know exactly how to explain this. There are a lot of people who go to law school or take jobs as stepping stones to something else, not because they see inherent value or want to help people, etc. But you were outside of that, even. You achieved almost effortlessly and didn't seem the least bit anxious about your performance. It didn't seem like your self esteem hinged on your success--it was easy for you, because you weren't scared the way most of us were. I didn't see you in action in law school, of course, but you would talk about it and this struck me as interesting. I was a little envious of your detachment.
(4) You took me to church with you. And to some anti-sex education class afterward (at the church). I could see that you had very little, if any, investment in any of what was really being taught. You claimed to be a Mormon, but it seemed skin-deep to me. Like you were playing a role you had been assigned and decided to go along with. I remember thinking: "She doesn't believe any of this; her world-view comes from a completely different place and it's just easier to try to fit in."
(4) You would flirt with me, a little, but I didn't get the impression that there was any actual feeling behind it, other than that you liked me, found me somewhat interesting and perhaps useful for bouncing ideas off, etc. I could see myself being attracted to you, but sensed--at some level--that there was something different about you. I flirted with you back, but not a lot. Just enough to intuit that I could get hurt if I actually let myself develop feelings for you. (QUEUE FLASHING WARNING LIGHTS!) My intuition prevented me somehow, even though you were highly attractive.
(5) It was the end of the summer before I finally said the word "sociopath" to you outloud. You and I were hanging out together outside of work by this point. I remember you were driving me around town. It might have been the same day you took me to visit your family. In any case, we were walking outside somewhere and I remember you telling me a story about someone--someone who had been going through something difficult. You said something like, "I don't know how to react in those types of situations. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say or feel." Now any empath could say something like, given a strange situation--a situation they had never experienced before. But given all I knew about you and the situation you described (which I can no longer remember), it sort of hit me in a "lightbulb" moment. I think I said to you, "M.E., have you ever considered that you might be a sociopath?" I think I explained a little about what I meant, trying not to offend you. You didn't seem offended at all, but just thoughtful for a minute or two. I probably explained a little about my sociopath friend and my experience with him. Maybe you remember more about this than I do.