Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Cycle

Excerpt from book proposal for the second book I'd like to get people thoughts on:

There are four stages or steps to what I will call the Cycle. The first stage is seeing things as they currently are. Step 1 is an observing, perceiving, or discerning step in which we learn to see and acknowledge reality as it is, not as we wish or fear it to be. The second stage is one of action, either we are the ones acting or we are being acted upon. Step 2 encompasses most of human experience because most of the time something is happening, moving or developing. Third is a self-reflection and re-evaluation step. It’s noticing the difference between how we experienced ourself and the world in Step 2 versus what we thought they were in Step 1. Fourth, there is a turning outwards to re-enter the world as a different person or in a different way. Step 4 is outwards facing. We engage with the world in a deeper or more nuanced way because we are different or our understanding of the world is different. Step 4 is where we feel the sensation of flourishing: having achieved success or improvement at something, we operate on a higher level than we did before. We have leveled up. 

You can see the Cycle in the macro structure of our lives: (1) we are born with our genetics and into a particular environment that makes certain things easier or less easy for us (“things as they are”); (2) we become an actor in our own environment but are also acted upon, getting psychologically and physically bumped and bruised along the way; (3) we reflect on how through our choices and experiences we have become different or our beliefs about the nature of reality are different/more expansive; and (4) turning outwards with our changed perspectives and self-conception, we re-enter the world a changed person or in a different way. 

The Cycle is how we learn from experience

The Cycle is how we learn anything. The scientific method is the Cycle: we start with a collection of prior beliefs, test those beliefs, assess the results of testing and how those results reflect on our prior beliefs, and finally update our prior beliefs (and ourselves) and re-enter the world with an increased understanding of ourselves and the nature of our reality. The Cycle is also how we grow and develop; it’s how we change to become a better, more informed or clear-thinking and clear-seeing person. The Cycle is how we learn from experience if we actually do learn from experience. 

One of my favorite examples of the Cycle being the way we learn from experience and become a new person or re-enter the world in a new way is the Christmas Carol progression of Ebenezer Scrooge. Charles Dickens starts out with a clear statement of reality as it is: “Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.” And after many adventures and learning to see things with new eyes it ends with Scrooge announcing, “I am not the man I was.” The Cycle is how we get from here to there, wherever here and there are. 

Getting stuck = we’ve skipped a step

If the Cycle is how we learn and grow as humans, then if we feel like we’re no longer learning and growing like we’d like to, it stands to reason that we’re skipping at least one step in the Cycle. When we skip a step we don’t level up. Think of the Cycle as the threads on a screw. As long as those threads are intact, turning the screw (like turning the Cycle) will result in advancing the screw forward. But sometimes the threads are not intact. If the threads are damaged enough, you can turn and turn a screw but it will not go forward. Similarly, if you skip a step in the Cycle, you won’t level up on this issue; you will not move forward. At least for that issue, you will be the living embodiment of the Sisyphus legend rolling the ball up the mountain only to have it roll back down, repeat ad infinitum. That’s what it means to be stuck: to do the same thing but fail to learn from experience or move forward. 

Skipping Step 3 by failing to acknowledge shortcomings

The most common step for normal people and certainly psychopaths to skip is Step 3. Step 3 is internalizing what we learned from Step 2. Step 3 can be a positive thing, like learning some new truth or skill. But it often comes from having believed or done something not quite right and the self-reflection and re-calibration of our beliefs necessary to re-orient ourselves with reality. (“Not right” in this context doesn’t mean morally wrong, it just means out of sync with reality, like taking a wrong turn while driving.) Sometimes Step 3 is just recognizing that something has changed, for instancing reconciling ourselves to a loss. In her book The Grieving Brain, clinical psychologist Mary-Frances O'Connor argues that grieving is a form of learning. Grieving is Step 3 because it is the process of reconciling ourselves to the ramifications of what it means to live in the world without someone we love in it. 

A lot of people don’t like Step 3 because it can hard to acknowledge we’ve made a mistake, or didn’t know everything about everything, or didn’t act or perform perfectly at some task, or have lost something that can never be righted again. I’ve noticed people skipping this step particularly in online or public debates, but I also see it regularly in my interpersonal relationships. People often have a hard time conceding that they’re wrong or saying they’re sorry. If caught red-handed in an error, they often posture in the hope that everyone will just move on and forget the error with the 24-hour news cycle. Maybe they are concerned that they’ll lose face or some sense of authority, but what they don’t realize is that skipping Step 3’s reconciliation and re-calibration undermines their moral or logical authority with others. And at least for me, one of the most disturbing things to watch is somebody or some group memory-holing an unpleasant fact or event out of existence rather than take the trouble to process it through Step 3. 

But the worst part of skipping the third step is that it prevents the proper operation of the fourth step, the flourishing part: they fail to become a different person so they’re never able to re-enter life in a new way. We’re probably all familiar with the phrase if you don’t learn from history, you’re destined to repeat it. Skipping Step 3 of the Cycle is the underlying mechanics of why this phrase is true. National Geographic photographer Diana Markosian said something similar in an interview about being reunited with her Russian birth father after decades of living apart and how learning that her father had never stopped looking for her felt: “It’s this feeling of this ability to go back in time, to understand something for yourself and bring it back to the present. I think that has been the biggest gift photography has given me, is a second chance to really understand my place in the world and how I relate to it—and how I can do that for those that I photograph as well.” 

You don’t just automatically learn and grow from your experiences. A good example of this are psychopaths, who are known for a poor ability to learn from their own experiences. Like people who have short term memory issues, they will make the same mistakes over and over again. My own working theory, as we’ll keep exploring throughout this book, is that psychopaths can’t properly go through Step 3 for anything but knowledge or skill acquisition because they have such a weak sense of self. As one psychopath told me about his life pre-therapy: “I did not see life as a journey because I did not really change over time.” Because a healthy sense of self is necessary for Step 3, this book will devote many chapters to establishing and/or strengthening our sense of self. 

Psychopaths aren’t the only ones who make the same mistake over and over again, though. Can you think of someone you know who is like this? Maybe it’s you? The truth is, it can be all of us if we if we fail to properly process our experiences and feelings in Step 3.  

Skipping Step 2 by playing it safe

Some of us are skipping Step 2 by not taking enough chances. Remember Step 2 is about movement and direction. It often comes in the form of us trying to do something in the world. For instance, Joan Didion advised the UC Riverside graduating class of 1975 that they should truly live in the world, not just endure it: “To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment.” But if you are daily living below your potential (perhaps even far below your potential), if you regularly shirk from challenge or potential difficulties, or if you spend most of your energy burying your talents and ambition instead of acting on them, you are likely skipping Step 2. 

My own personal theory is many people shirk Step 2 for fear of confronting their missteps and personal insufficiencies in Step 3. We’ll address this type of perfectionism and fear of being wrong or making mistakes later in the book. 

I’ve also seen people do a half-assed Step 2 for fear of its implications about Step 1. Remember Step 1 is about where you are now, including who you are now. Let’s take the example of music, since this is where I personally see it most. People who play music often want to think of themselves as being a competent musician (i.e. their Step 1 includes a competence at performing music). Because they’re so afraid of acting in a way that is inconsistent with this self belief, they will intentionally sabotage their Step 2, most frequently by not practicing adequately for a performance. Then they can tell themselves “pretty good for not practicing!” Because they never gave a true Step 2 effort, they skip Steps 3 and 4 and stay bouncing back and forth between Step 1 and a half-assed Step 2, at least as it pertains to their musicianship. 

Skipping Step 1 by ignoring reality

A few of us are struggling seeing things as they really are in Step 1. I regularly see people experience this in their relationships. Red flags are missed or people start fearing that what is there is not enough. In fact, I think much of how we relate to people comes from a fear of reality. We may fear that someone will change, or we may fear that someone will not change. We feel like we need things to be a particular way. We may fear that we’ll never be happy with the way things are, so feel a need to try to push someone or something towards what we think will make us happy. But we can be comfortable no matter what our situation. We can find balance in our connections commensurate with our needs and learn to love and accept the people around us without needing them to be anything but what they are.  

Step 1 would apply to people with mental health disorders, anxiety, depression, etc. that distort our perception of reality. It also includes any insecurities we may feel about ourselves, our background, our level of education, our natural preferences, etc. Finally, it includes our biases, our prejudices, our hasty ill-informed judgments, our seeing through a glass darkly.

Flourishing comes from giving all steps in the Cycle their due

We all want to flourish in life. But when we get stuck on something, we languish. Our lives turn boring because we are doing the same thing over and over again without the personal growth and renewal we crave. 


Thursday, December 16, 2021

WeiWei Part 2

 Confessions of a Sociopath author M.E. Thomas checks back in with WeiWei (part 1 here) to see how she's doing living her life with more authenticity. They talk about friend break-ups, boundaries, spoken and unspoken expectations, unsustainable situations, what is the merciful thing to do when something just isn't working out, etc. 

Thursday, December 2, 2021

M.E. Thomas interviews Swedish Psychopath Doomer Part 2

Confessions of a Sociopath author M.E. Thomas does a follow up interview with Doomer, part 1 here:

They talk about the inconsistencies or hypocrisies they see with normal people with regard to what they say vs. what they do, the pandemic and how it has affected everything, child sexual abuse cover-ups, American puritanism, social pressure to conform, sleep, trying to improve our lives through small means that work and building on that. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

My dad is a psychopath: M.E. Thomas interviews Kid X


Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight author M.E. Thomas interviews Kid X, whose father is diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). They talk about boredom, passion, race (Kid X is black), being different, desires for change and the possibility of change, blending/masking to fit in, emotions, and creative outlets in which we can hear our own "voice."

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Is BTK serial killer Dennis Rader a Psychopath?

Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight author M.E. Thomas talks with Arya (psychopath) and Sam (empath) about BTK serial killer Dennis Rader, whether he's a psychopath, potential motivations for this behavior, similarities or dissimilarities from other serial killers like Ed Kemper and Ted Bundy, hypocrisies of people who want Ted to feel badly for his crimes but also want Ted and everyone that helped Ted to also die, compartmentalization, differences between sociopaths and narcissists, sexual identity and sexual self-expression, and finally whether there was anything that could have helped Dennis Rader to not kill and instead lived his truth in ways that did not involve murder.  

Friday, October 22, 2021

Victoria on long-lasting change via meditation and perspective shifts

Author of Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight M.E. Thomas interviews science PhD candidate Victoria about the dramatic change that's happened in her life since the last time they spoke in Part 4 of the series. They speak about why Victoria was the way she was before, how did it feel to be that way, why she thought to do the meditation program, how that changed the way she viewed the world. They also talk about identity, personhood, agency, the desire to control and shifting our desires to control from things that are not within our control to thing that are properly within our control, the difference between direct and indirect control, "timshel" or thou mayest from "East of Eden," love, process vs. outcome orientation, choosing to move from reactionary emotional to thoughtful responses, accountability for choices, personal boundaries, identity hits, ego, and self-expression.

The meditation program Victoria participated in: 

Covey's "scarcity" vs. "abundance" mentalities: 

Paul Graham's Keep Your Identity Small:

Part 1 of this series:  

Part 2 of this series:

Part 3 of this series:

Part 4 of this series:

More from Victoria on willpower: 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Veteran sports car enthusiast T-Pocket

Author of Confessions of a Sociopath interviews former soldier T-Pocket about how he alternates from boredom to moments punctuated by excitement like driving sports cars and dirt bikes. Sorry for the audio issues!  

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Vegan Bisexual Doomer

Author of Confessions of a Sociopath M.E. Thomas talks to European male psychopath leaning or psychopath adjacent Doomer re the way he reasons without feelings versus the way other people seem to reason with feelings, about how he feels boredom all of the time, about how he lives a life largely devoid of passion and purpose, and how he doesn't really care enough about  people to mess with them or manipulate them. He ends by saying that psychopaths are a lot less interesting and a lot more harmless than people give them credit for.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Lukav the Gay Biracial Psychopath

 It's been a while since I recorded this, so sorry the description is not more detailed!

Thursday, May 6, 2021

YouTube Zoom Interview for Lance the Christian Sociopath

 Here's the YouTube description:

Author of Confessions of a Sociopath M.E. Thomas talks with Christian Lance about whether or not a psychopath can be a good Christian and what that might mean, about how the psychopath thinks in very outcome oriented ways (to the point that it might be difficult for them to conceptualize how other people make choices in process oriented ways), about how psychopaths mask and evade detection by pretending to be what people expect of them, etc. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Co-parenting with a Psychopath: John Doe Part 2

This video gets cut off at the end, but interesting thoughts about psychopathic parenting and co-parenting. Please feel free to share any suggestions you have for John Doe in the comments.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

WeiWei Zoom interview 21 0423

 Here's the description:

M.E. Thomas (author of Confessions of a Sociopath) interviews WeiWei, a personality disordered individual that identifies as having characteristics of psychopathy and borderline personality disorder (BPD). They talk about feeling alien, including understanding at a young age that whatever they are naturally is repulsive to normal people and necessitates masking or pretending to be something else at a very early age just to get along. They talk about how the origin of much destructive behavior of the personality disordered comes from boredom and the boredom comes from a lack of cohesive personal narrative, which results in an existential sense of emptiness.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Zoom Interview Bree Said

The description:

M.E. Thomas (author of Confessions of a Sociopath) interviews Bree Said. They talk about the military, Bree Said becoming a Japanese escort as a youngster, and boundaries, as well as talking about how to be our more authentic self more of the time.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Male = more murderous than psychopath

Who is more dangerous, males or psychopaths? 

Take a non-gendered, non sociopathic person. Are they more likely to be a murderer if we make them male or if we make them a psychopath? The answer is male.

First, homicide rates are 88.8% male in the U.S. You're 7 times more likely to be a murderer if you're male than female. Sources: 

I'm going to use 2013 FBI statistics because they seem to do a good job distinguishing between genders, but I'd love to see this actually studied and given the attention it deserves:

Male non-psychopathic murderers
Total in the U.S. in 2013 = 5058 male murderers
At one person's estimate, psychopaths are an estimated 25% of murderers:

5058*.75 =  3793.5 male American non-psychopath murderers.

Controlled for population size:
Total male U.S. population = 151.8 million

3793.5 male non-psychopath murderers /151.8M male americans =

0.002499011% likelihood you're a murderer if you're an American male non-psychopath

Non-male psychopath murderers
For non-male psychopath murders, let's first take the number of non-male murderers: 665 

665 non-male murders again at the rate of 25% of murderers are psychopaths = 
665*.25 = 166 non-male American psychopath murderers

Controlled for population size.
Total non male psychopath population in the U.S. is 176.M. Approximately four percent of those are psychopaths.

176.4M*4% = 7,056,000 non-male American psychopaths. 

166 non-male psychopath American murderers /7.056M non-male American psychopaths =

0.002352607% likelihood you're a murderer if you're a non-male American psychopath

***Being male makes you more likely to be a murderer than being a psychopath.**** 

Both are still highly unlikely, e.g. if you come across a random male or random non-male psychopath it's still very unlikely they are a murderer. 

Of course these numbers are just rough estimates, but I think this quick back of the envelope calculation suggests at the very least that common intuitions regarding the dangerousness of psychopaths need to be re-examined and further research is warranted. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Arya and her ex-girlfriend Frances re her BPD diagnosis

Hello friends! Sorry for the delay on this, I had to do some editing, which I'm bad at. Arya's ex Frances tells Arya that she's been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. We talk to Frances about her diagnosis, her disorder, and her experience with both in the world and in her relationships, including her experience that a lot of people view her diagnosis negatively and tell Frances that she doesn't actually have a personality disorder.

One analogy I thought about with regard to Frances and BPD in general is that if all personality disorders have issues with their personality and sense of identity/self, maybe one way to view them is in terms of how connected they are to their identity. For instance, psychopaths seem very disconnected from their identity. I came up with the analogy of a being pulled behind a motorboat in an inner tube (like I used to do when I was young). The boat is your identity. If you're way behind the boat, like 50 feet back, what the boat does hardly affects you at all, and for psychopaths if someone says something negative about their identity they rarely care because they're so disconnected. Other personality disorders seem more connected to their identity, which also means they're more vulnerable. I think of BPD as being like hanging off the back of the boat, where they're constantly being whipped around, but they're not close enough to actually be in the driver's seat, where people without personality disorders are. 

Arya and I had just been listening to a webinar on criminal sentencing and BPD right before Frances told us about her diagnosis (Arya had no idea before). We had been talking about how terrible BPD sounds like it is for the sufferer, and that we couldn't imagine living like that and no wonder the suicide rate is so high. But also I'm glad that they at least have established treatments. Although I have heard from psychopaths that the same therapies styles have helped psychopaths, so maybe the personality disorders have more in common than meets the eye. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Zoom Interview with RT Part 1

 Here's another one on one video I did with RT:

British man RT talks about his sociopathic lifestyle, what led to him choosing to go to therapy, and his experiences in therapy. He's been able to maintain a steady job in tech, mostly because the nature of the job has allowed him to travel on assignment and start over when he gets a new client/assignment. He's also managed to remain married, no kids. He is not close to his family. He is very intelligent. And he recommends therapy to all other people on the sociopath spectrum.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Long Form Psychopath Interview Mr. Fatal YouTube

Here's another over an hour interview I did with someone I have never met or talked to before, Mr. Fatal:

Confessions of a Sociopath author interviews sociopath spectrum former army paratrooper infantryman Mr. Fatal. They talk about how well suited psychopaths are for the military, as first responders such as firefighters, police, and other risky occupations, professions such as surgery that require clarity of thought and less emotional and empathic attachment, etc. per Kevin Dutton's book the Wisdom of Psychopaths. They also talk about how a psychopath would respond to military and martial arts training and the role of honor in those disciplines (Mr. Fatal is one of many generations of warriors in his family). They talk about the cycles that psychopaths develop through, including the playground stage in the early 20s and the "reckoning" of the late 20s and early 30s and about the role that sense of self plays. They also talk about the stigma of psychopathy, including hurting animals (Mr. Fatal loves animals more than most humans) and other natural variations or expressions of the personality disorder that you might see amongst the populace.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

New Discord Server

 Hello friends!

At the suggestion of one of our friends, I created a Discord server. This invite lasts only 24 hours, but it's under Sociopathworld: 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

YouTube: Relationship with a Psychopath 1/10

Here's the video from the meeting:

Confessions of a Sociopath author M.E. Thomas interviews John Doe, who has been in a relationship with a psychopath for the past few years. They talk about the pluses and minuses to being in a close relationship with a psychopath, some of the things he wishes he had done differently or wishes she could have done differently, and some advice he would give to others in a similar situation. He also shares his thoughts on self-acceptance, and how the stigma against sociopaths makes the situation worse not just for the psychopaths but for everyone. 

This upcoming Sunday 1/10/21 we'll have on a guest who was in a relationship with a sociopath. 

M.E. Thomas is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Relationship with a Psychopath

Time: Jan 10, 2021 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 749 7045 6227

Passcode: uFqW4U

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Sociopaths and Compartmentalization YouTube Interview

We had such great feedback on the Brad longer Zoom that I'm experimenting with the longer format, so this morning I did one with just Arya and Elsa (the time constraint doesn't kick in unless there are multiple people on the call) and I continue to like the results. I'll probably either continue to do one on ones to avoid the Zoom time limit or just bite the bullet and buy a pro Zoom account. If I do the former, I'll upload the one on ones to YouTube and post here. I'll also do a live shorter Zoom session at least once a month. If you have strong opinions either way, let me know in the comments!

From this morning's one on one with Arya and Elsa:

Author of Confessions of a Sociopath M.E. Thomas and two 20 something female psychopaths discuss the role of compartmentalization for neurotypical people and for psychopaths. Normal people experience their self as a stable concept and when they have experiences that are inconsistent with their self, they experience cognitive dissonance. To avoid or resolve the cognitive dissonance, they can do one of three things: (1) change their behavior to be consistent with their self-conception, (2) change their belief about their self to be consistent with their behavior, (3) compartmentalize and essentially ignore the dissonance. Psychopaths do not experience these things as much because they have a very weak sense of self. 

There is a second use of the word compartmentalization, which is to keep thoughts and parts of our life separate to avoid conflict, to avoid worrying or being concerned about something, or to be more efficient. In this second sense of the word compartmentalization is something that psychopaths tend to do frequently, perhaps even better than normal people. Because of their weak sense of self, they feel less conflict from holding inconsistent viewpoints or manifesting inconsistent behaviors. 

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