From a reader:
I have been following your blog for a while and I've found it fascinating, so naturally when I heard about your book I jumped at a change for a larger glimpse into your life. I preordered it as soon as I heard about it, and when it arrived on my kindle yesterday I spent the whole day lost in the rabbit hole I found myself in. Much of your book resonated very strongly with me, especially your description of ruining people and how often the potential for ruin is enough. I have always implicitly felt this but could never put a name to it. I always considered it a propensity to quit before the end, but when you consider the appreciation of potential as an end in itself, the subsequent ruination is just "busy work" and not worth my time. This is actually a great relief to me, because while I can tolerate moral ambiguity in myself, I absolutely cannot tolerate a weak mind that cannot follow through its projects to their end.
Although it is most likely too early to tell, I consider myself a sociopath, or at least highly sociopathic. As a child, I never really fit into social situations, neither with adults nor children. I always felt the
greatest contempt for what I viewed as adults trying to manipulate me with a sourceless moral code that I did not believe in. It shocked me when they expressed surprise that I would need a justification for morality. With children, I was exceedingly awkward, a trait that I mainly attribute to an upbringing by East Asian parents, but may also have been because I simply didn't care about the frivolities that others did and never made an attempt to pretend otherwise. However, that upbringing also protected me, as the cultural mandate on conformity effectively masked my deviant thoughts and behavior. However, occasionally my utilitarian value set still shone through, like when I kicked one of my best friends in the ribs to make him stop yelling at recess. Afterward, deciding on a whim that honesty was a value I should always observe, I freely admitted to having done so, absolutely enraging my teacher for my apparent stoicism and lack of regret. I suppose I should have shown more contrition, but the truth is I simply didn't care that my friend was injured. I got what I wanted, and there was no permanent damage done. Was I supposed to care further on such trivial, temporary effects?
Although you discussed a lack of emotional affect in mainly humorous terms (people taking your deadpanned threats as jokes), I have found a very practical use for it, pathological lying, A combination of Asian distaste for outward displays of emotion and my sociopathic inability to express emotion has given me the highly useful ability to lie in practically any situation, even to my closest friends, a skill that I hone and treasure. It's pathetically easy to lie to strangers who don't know anything about you and are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but lying to someone who intimately knows your mannerisms is absolutely beautiful. I have actually ruined someone's inherent trust in people; after talking to me for a few months she can no longer take peoples' statements at face value and always wonders if they are lying, even if said person has never had a history of lying. I'm not sure how an empath would react to something like that, but I personally find it hilarious.
Speaking of empaths, I have never had an "Ann" in my life. No empath has ever healed me or shown me how redeemable empaths are. Instead, I only have people who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge my inherent differences and strive to evoke in me the emotions that they believe me to have. My inability to feel emotions alien to me is only interpreted as further reason that I need this “therapy,” until I am completely overwhelmed and I disengage entirely. I have never met an empath I can deal with, and the people I identify with closest all share sociopathic traits with me. Often, interaction with me has brought those traits to the surface. I'm sure a normal person would watch in horror as I “corrupt” people, but I only feel pride in having so much influence, not just in peoples' actions, but their very philosophies on life.
Unlike you, I have no religious code whatsoever, and my ethics can easily be described as questionable. My morals are based entirely on my aesthetic sense, but, given the nature of my aesthetics, it keeps me out of trouble anyway. What I find most beautiful is predatory grace, which requires, to put it simply, perception and ability. My aesthetics drive me to eschew denial and constantly strive to improve in all areas, which ironically gives me a relatively normal sociopathic life. It also gives me a relatively normal life by empath standards, as evidence of actions is usually ugly, giving me incentive to always cover my tracts. Violence, likewise, if used because I have lost control of the situation and can only resort to brute strength, is disgustingly ugly. Is this a strange code to live by? Clearly it is strange for empaths, but I have gotten the impression that my lifestyle is strange for sociopaths as well. Am I truly deviant or am I just calling the same motivations by a different name? I personally think my aesthetic sense is just a different name for the inborn instincts that everybody has (the will to live, which requires one to improve as to not get eviscerated), but given the reactions I have gotten from sharing my views, I may really be different.
Reading the reviews of your book on Amazon, I was surprised at the number of reviews that criticized the excessive length of the book. I was entirely engrossed from start to finish, but that may be because I responded personally to the material in a way that an empath simply wouldn't. In any case, you specifically described the book as a memoir, not an academic work, something that these reviews seem to have overlooked. I did notice that you left out any accounts of interactions with other sociopaths, even though you vaguely referenced them. Given how thoroughly you accounted your interactions, the story seems one sided. I would love to hear those, but even without those anecdotes, your book elucidated many concepts that I felt but couldn't put to words, and that deserves gratitude, as well as respect.