I greatly enjoyed and admired your book. So much that I’d be reckless enough to call it important, given how it counters the standard model of the sociopath and gives a voice to others like you.
Thanks to your book, I’ve concluded that I am not a sociopath. The question has long been there, and maybe - were I to go into detail about my life - my conclusion could challenged.
Some years ago I was given the diagnosis which saved my life: ‘Bipolar Affective Disorder with Cyclothymic Tendencies” and a prescription for lithium carbonate. After a whole life of depression, violent outbursts, alcohol abuse, self-harm and one potent suicide attempt; I finally had something approaching an explanation.
I’m grateful to be high-functioning (social workers have expressed surprise at this), and to be carving niches in life and work. I’m more focussed and hugely confident (with an ego my younger self would’ve been affronted by); though increasingly analytical, cold and emotionally detached. I work in retail and relish being able to alter my environment and personality, in order to sway my superiors (or indeed by-pass them altogether) as well as manipulating the buying decisions of customers. In my somewhat kaleidoscopic wetware I love the idea of “bending their will to my own.”
In my head I maintain an almost comic book sense of personal mythology and continuity. My life and experiences cast in the light of my “emerging powers.” The fear and doubt and servility that characterised me is long dead, and now my concerns centre wholly upon increasing my own sense of achievement, in demonstrating (to myself I must stress) how much I can do, how much I can handle and how well I continue to evolve.
I exist in a near perpetual state of hypomania (occasionally peaking into irrational ranting/noises inside my head) entwined with a calm, centred “mixed state” where cutting out an eye or slicing open my arms will quell some internal conflict/pain or simply because...reasons. [Un]logic I call it.
It seems to me that some of what I describe could be considered sociopathic in nature. The difference between sociopathy and sociopathic traits is intriguing to me, because I now wonder if my continued evolution is in part down to adopting (consciously or not) such characteristics. Having to step back, take longer to assess what’s happening, increase the emotional distance. Forcing myself into calculated risks and being willing to follow my gut when boundaries become too much.
I appreciate how unconcerned you seem with justifying or seeking sympathy for your sociopathy. How it is not a disorder needing a cure. Perhaps another reader would raise an eyebrow about now, but I can only stutter from where I stand.
He concluded with two questions: "How thin do you consider the line between psychopathic and psychotic can be? What can the “coping strategies” of one offer to the other and vice versa?" To which I replied:
I have myself often wondered about the beneficial aspects of sociopathic behaviors, particularly evolutionarily or as defense tactics against a hostile world. A lot of people that visit my site are from eastern europe. Is it because they've had to become gradually less emotional in dealing with harsh circumstances? I actually don't know that much about psychotics. So you would consider yourself a psychotic? You would probably be a better person to ask then, what is the difference?