mind-blind about certain things, especially the inner emotional worlds of others. Sociopaths are not the only ones who can be mind-blind, though. Despite normal people's professed empathy, I have noticed before and particularly since the publication of the book that many empaths can't seem to get into the mindset of a sociopath. I think a lot of it also has to do to a tendency that we all have to project our own feelings and thoughts about a situation onto another person.
I talk about this a little bit in the book, about how I used to think that people were just like me until basically my late teens and early 20's. And now that I am a little more aware, I realize that I make frequently incorrect assumptions about the inner worlds of others, but I'm happy to be corrected when appropriate. I notice it in others as well but some people aren't open to correcting their misperceptions. This particular brand of mind-blindness is often mixed with a touch of xenophobia, and a dash of hypocrisy, seeing the apparent flaws in someone else's worldview without acknowledging the limitations of one's own perception. The evolutionary plus of this blend of mind-blindness+xenophobia+hypocrisy is that it promotes social conformity. It makes people feel so sure of themselves that they don't think twice about forcing others to conform, even if it means something so drastic as killing them (witch hunts, Inquisition, modern religious states where we stone people, etc.) And conformity leads to a greater sense of cohesion amongst the rest of the group, which can be socially beneficial, particularly in times of war.
Although I acknowledge that humans being able to unscrupulously enforce their will on other people can sometimes benefit society, I don't really like being the target of this sort of social influence and scrutiny. It's why I sometimes don't like being around other white women -- they feel like we're similar enough that they know all about me, even sometimes believing they know me better than I know myself. They also feel invested enough in me and how I reflect on them and greater womanhood that if I step out of line, I could face severe consequences (Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons?).
I've been thinking a lot about mind-blindness with the publication of the book and subsequent promotional activities. I've been thinking about my own mind-blindness, including the ways that I have not been able to predict the spectrum/proportion of people's different reactions (In the past few weeks I've learned more about why exactly people hate sociopaths than I did in the past few years of the blog). I've also been a little amazed at other people's mind-blindness, as evidenced by the all-over-the-map reactions to the book and promotional activities -- seemingly contradictory things like thinking that I am both the epitome of evil (a clear and an imminent threat to society) and that I'm also a fraud.
I wonder about the nature of the fraud accusations. When people say "fraud," does it only mean that they believe the word "sociopath" does not accurately apply to me? Because I'm pretty upfront that maybe it doesn't and maybe I've been misdiagnosed and who knows what that word means anyway and the diagnostic criterion are notoriously subjective, but isn't that itself an interesting thing to note about sociopathy? That if someone like me can be diagnosed a sociopath, then maybe it doesn't mean much when other people are involuntarily diagnosed sociopaths and kept in prisons because of it? If they think I am a fraud because I am lying about what's happened to me in my life, I am surprised because I don't find my experiences to be particularly outrageous or extraordinary. But I guess when you say "diagnosed sociopath" people expect to see a particular thing and when they don't see that thing, instead of thinking to themselves -- maybe my idea of a sociopath is not accurate, maybe I am not an expert at identifying sociopaths -- they instead conclude, this woman is a fraud. Maybe because they would rather live in a world in which they can rely on their own gut assessments about people, and me not being what they expected me to look/act/sound like is a direct challenge to that worldview? Interestingly, I've gotten a lot less pushback about who I say I am from non-Americans and from men, presumably because they're projecting less of their own characteristics and worldview on me?
Maybe people are unimpressed or disgusted by sociopath behavior, but I'm recently not that impressed by empath behavior. If empathy only applies to people who look and act just like you (and even then, is largely based on inaccurate projections of one's own worldview on another), then what is so special about empathy?