I'm much better off for having sociopaths in my life at one time. Have you ever read Jack Kerouac's "On the Road?" Whether you have or haven't, I'll give you some context: JK, in my estimation was a very shy empath, hence the raging lifelong alcoholism. He found himself drawn to Neil Cassady, a sociopath who probably had some bipolar disorder thrown in as well. Cassady brought so much fun, spontaneity and wildness into Keroac's life that there literally would be no "On the Road" or Jack Kerouac if it weren't for Cassady.
Anyway, in all honesty, I'm probably more like Keroac in temperament - a good bit more outgoing, but nonetheless, an introverted empath. My best friend through much of my childhood and adulthood is the co-founder of a website that's a household name now. To make a very long story short, he cut me out and threw me away when I was no longer convenient for him in the internet businesses, however I wouldn't trade the experiences and pain for anything. It's the time in my life that's worth writing a book about (which I have), and if we're really all honest with each other, I would bet that its sociopaths that make life more interesting, and worth writing about in the first place.
By the way Ms. Thomas, I love your book. I am now a practicing psychotherapist, a profession mostly populated by empaths, and your book provides the greatest insight into sociopaths of anything I've ever read, and I have a stack of books up to my chin about sociopathy.
If you feel so inclined, I'd love to ask you some questions; I'll start with one: you said in your book that Mormons were some of the sweetest, most loving people you've ever met, or you said that about people at Brigham Young, I believe. How do you as a sociopath react to sweet, kind people? Do you see them as rich source for gain and opportunity, or do you enjoy the love you feel, or some combination of both?
I like sweet people as long as it comes from a genuine place. I think that most people who are self-actualized or able to see the big picture tend to be a little bit sweet and generous because they realize that life is short and there aren't really winners or losers (at least not in the rat race), so why not make friends with your seatmates. And a lot of Mormons are this way. It is like I said in the book -- Mormons believe that we are all spirit brothers and sisters and of course you're going to act more generously with your brothers and sisters than an enemy or non-relative, so there is generally a lot more social capital that I have with Mormons than other people.
But I guess to get more to the heart of your question, I like who I am around them. I'm really impressionable, like a chameleon, so when I'm around goodhearted Mormons, I'm more goodhearted myself. I'm also more willing to take risks and consequently I feel more effective, like I'm leveraging my assets in a way that is clearly making a difference in the lives around me. That makes me feel powerful. And I feel more in control of my own self when I am being that way, like it is my best self. It's one of the times when I feel most engaged in the world. Oddly one of the other times I feel most engaged with the world is when I'm playing a long con or mind game ("ruining people").