I found your blog by chance, a week or two ago, and can't help but feel intrigued. I have Asperger's syndrome (or as the next version of the DSM has it, "autism spectrum disorder") and the experiences you describe seem to have as many similarities to as differences from my own.
We both find it necessary to mask ourselves for daily life because most people, most of the time, don't want to know what we're really like. They want an interface they know how to use, and an impression they can easily categorize. I don't switch masks with the fluidity of a sociopath, nor do I have as large a repertoire to choose from. I'd be willing to bet that I have to put more conscious effort into each one, so once a given mask passes I have greater incentive to stick with it and practice until perfect. (I don't know what you look like without yours, but at times when I can't maintain a mask I've been told that I either don't emote, or that the other (neurotypical) person doesn't know how to interpret my body language.)
Changing contexts, some facets of my personality behind that mask may fold away and others unfold such that people in either seem to form substantially different impressions of me, but I don't make a conscious decision to change what aspects I have on display, nor bother with deception. I simply omit what isn't relevant.
On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that I lack the typical sociopaths' need for stimulation and excitement, nor do any of your examples mention sociopaths with a typical autistics' sensory hypersensitivities. Sitting in a quiet room with dim lights, my experience is finally not *over*stimulating.
In that vein, there's one thing that I really don't understand. What do sociopaths get out of manipulating or otherwise having power over other people? What about it interests you? To my view, people are mostly boring and interacting with them is a nontrivial drain on my resources. (There are rare exceptions to that rule, and I've married one. He describes me as "asocial".) And so I have to ask: Why bother?
I look forward to your answer.
Thanks for this! I think that sociopaths get a lot of things from power. They get a sense of connection and intimacy with another person. They get a sense of purpose or sense that they are a being in the world that acts, not just gets acted upon. I think for a lot of sociopaths there was some sort of childhood trauma that made them feel like they weren't the masters of their own destiny. Not everyone is bothered by this, but I think for sociopaths it goes too strongly against their megalomania. But these are sort of just guesses. For me I have felt the need for power as a basic need, like the need for love or acceptance must be for most people, but I'm not sure why. Thoughts?