For most of my life I've been operating under the assumption that I was fairly normal psychologically even if my social life and general socialness was atypical based on what I could observe around myself. This would turn out ultimately to be an elaborate trick on my part against myself, but solely for the sake of my own survival. I'm not sure when exactly it started, but it must have been fairly early on in my life as I have no recollection of building my web of self-deceit, only sporadic instances that could have contributed to it and general notions of my childhood. This includes my overly curious nature, always asking questions that "didn't matter" or "didn't concern me" as a child, but I would always press until I got answers or until I could be pointed to other information that could satiate my curious mind. "Why" was my favorite or at least most used word growing up, much to the dismay of many people around me. I also would watch people intensely for clues into their behavior, to figure out "why" for myself instead of asking questions. Reflecting on this I realize now that it was because I understood very little compared to others when it came to anything outside of factual knowledge I'd picked up from classes or books. I always wanted to know more about how and why people thought like they did.
Using analogies is one of the key ways I figured out how others work, and I find them equally useful in explaining myself to others, whether it is some fictitious account to make myself more acceptable or actual truth. And in relation to the human mind my favorite is using the analogy of a computer. Using this theme and imagining everyone else wireless computers of some kind, constantly sending and receiving signals, it is easy for me to understand mental difference. Some of them are genetic predispositions(hardware) and others are socialized into them(software). When something goes "wrong" with one thing or another it results in a mental disorder. I could spend the rest of the day explaining all the nuances of this analogy, but I'm sure you can suss them out for yourself. Sociopaths fit into this model as computers that lack the hardware and/or software to make sense of certain codes transmitted in the signals they are constantly bombarded with, one might even go so far as to say they're running a different operating system than most(as I think Linux computer users will tell you, it's hard making their machines talk nicely with a Windows computer). Criminal sociopaths would be the ones that, frustrated with their position, start bombarding others with malicious viruses and strands of code meant to disrupt the processing of other computers. Successful or at least non-criminal sociopaths on the other hand would usually attempt to make sense of the mysterious codes by seeing what other computers were doing with the same codes and then writing their own programs as to mimic the same responses so as to appear normal and try to function with other computers in the system, but eventually there are issues as spitting out mimicked codes only works so much.
Bringing this back around to my story. It was my overly curious nature mixed with a very nurturing, protective, and understanding mother that allowed me to build my little program that kept the real me hidden, even from myself once I had it up and running. I'm not sure how I did it or if was entirely me, but continuing from the computer analogy, I didn't stop at building a simple list of commands to mimic the responses of others. I built an emulator program. As such, instead of simply responding with a mimicked code, I could actually take in, process, and spit back out code in the same fashion other empaths did. It wasn't and still isn't perfect, and requires constant maintenance and energy to keep it up to speed. The main difference being I can actually "feel" the emotions I pretend to have, even if those responses are merely my own trickery. To try and bring this back into the realm of reality and not just analogy, the best I can figure out is I that created a mental programming that not only tried to figure out the correct mental and social responses to others it actually caused physiological changes similar to those experienced by empaths, thus allowing me to "feel".
The only reason I'm still not bound up in the web of my own creation is after several years of living away from my parents(my mother in particular), and I'm sure several other contributing factors I'm not whole conscious of, this construct began to degrade as I no long had reason to maintain it as thoroughly. My sociopathic nature began to seep through at an alarming rate(it had always popped up now and then, but was excused by everyone, myself included as the result of stress at school or work) and I thought at first something was seriously wrong with me. As time when on the sociopathic traits showed more and more, until eventually I had to sit down and figure it out NOW. When I did I realized that most of what I felt made little to no logical sense to me, and I began poking at this mental construct until it all but completely fell apart. I put it back together because I realized it made my life a ton easier after only a day or so of not using it. I still had no name for what I was on the inside, that is until I came across your book. How nicely everything you said lined up with what I saw in myself allowed me to finally ignore the clinical representation of sociopaths and explore the notion of it from the perspective of someone who really knew. That as brought a level of ease and acceptance to me that I'd lacked until now, probably due in large part to my empathic emulator's influence. And now that I'm looking at myself and the world in a new light everything is making a lot more sense. But it also makes me wonder if there are more out there like me who have this capacity to emulate even down to the internal responses of empaths. I've not found any evidence of them, but then again, if they never have reason to doubt their own trickery then they would remain stuck in their own web oblivious to who they really are.
I found it particularly interesting that he focused so much on analogies to figure out the world around him. I feel the exact same way. I focus on the structure and relationships between things, so thinking in analogies is a natural fit for me. I think that's what made studying law such a good fit for me, because particularly in common law systems, everything is analogized to previous cases or previous legal reasoning. It's a very instrumental way of thinking, thinking of everything and everyone in terms of what they do and how they function in different situations. But it makes me wonder, is this something common to any/most sociopaths? Certain personality types? Other personality or mental health disorders?
I also liked the part about how it was a "very nurturing, protective, and understanding mother that allowed me to build my little program that kept the real me hidden". I actually just met someone who has sociopathic tendencies/proclivities, and he speaks much the same way about his mother -- about how she trained him to be sensitive to certain things. He always says things like, "if you follow a thought, it can take you all sorts of places," like he makes a distinction between "having" a thought, and "following" it (and of course finally "acting" on the thought).