Of course, I read the book, and though I was, myself, a mental health professional, learned a great deal about sociopathy. In my day, before the functional MRI, there was no certainty that it was the functional structure of the brain that determined the behavior. Nor, that despite the 3-4% incidence in the general population, that many, if not most, are socialized, like "M. E." or Jimmy Fallon, and very likely, Benjamin Franklin, for that matter.
Not all sociopaths do evil things. I stated that Franklin might well be one, based on his risk-taking behavior, his disrupted familial relationships, his legendary charm, his promiscuity, and his need to go from one activity to another.
The risky behavior: the man signed the Declaration of Independence, an invitation to hanging. Also, he nearly electrocuted himself during the kite experiment. I'm sure that there were others examples that escape me for the moment.
- Disrupted family: Franklin had a hostile relationship with his son throughout their lives. He was also a very poor husband, and for all practical purposes, he acted as if he were a single man.
- The charm: Thank the lord for this and his genius. He got Louis XV to bankrupt France to support us against Britain during the Revolutionary War. It was the French fleet that bottled up Cornwallis at Yorktown, after all. AND: that bankruptsy was a proximal cause of the French Revolution that transpired just a few short years later.
- The hyperactivity: Again, thank the lord, and his genius, for his myriad inventions. Off the top of my head: a musical instrument that he called the Harmonium, the Franklin stove, bifocal lenses, the harnessing of electricity, etc.
- The promiscuity: His love life is one of legend, continuing well into his old age!
The error is to think that all sociopaths are alike. Sociopaths differ from one another based on the presence or absence of other pathologies such as paranoia (Stalin) or Schizophrenia (Hitler) or combinations thereof. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are certainly sociopaths, yet their risky behavior was channeled into developments that have revolutionized our lives! Perhaps, we have advanced to where we are today because of constructive sociopaths like these! Not every sociopath is a Jeffrey Dahmer or a Pol Pot!
I'm not entirely surprised at the suggestion that Benjamin Franklin could have been a sociopath, especially since studies have shown that entrepreneurs have several sociopathic traits ("The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship").