‘Confessions of a Sociopath’ by M. E. Thomas

3E18F505-A7C2-4692-BAD0-776441D695E3

This is a particularly interesting book because of my background in psychology but this one is one for anyone interested in the area of sociopaths. What does that mean exactly…maybe it’s the large number of us who have the guilty pleasures of a love of true crime podcasts and Netflix shows?

‘Confessions of a Sociopath’ is taken from the author’s own experiences, her own blog Sociopathworld.com and scientific literature- it’s a confessional memoir that gives insight into the life of someone diagnosed as a sociopath. The book delves into myths about sociopathy, confessions of her life and how she deals wit her diagnosis as a ‘non criminal sociopath’

The author, who has written under a pseudonym, is a high profile lawyer in New York and Sunday school teacher, who states she is highly intelligent, easily bored with a very high tolerance for danger.

Before I go on any further I’ll quickly give some definitions. What’s the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath? While often the words psychopath are interchangeable, psychopaths are more likely to get into trouble with the law, while sociopaths are more likely to blend into society.

M.E. Thomas highlights how she spent her life thinking differently to everyone else and, what started as a self-diagnosis, became a formal diagnosis from a prominent psychiatrist in Texas. Interestingly, she makes a point of discouraging people on seeking this diagnosis due to the stigma that can follow.

The success of the book, isn’t so much the writing, though it does have a fascinating flavour of entitlement and self-credibility, but the marketing campaign that followed it’s publication. When the book first came out in 2013, the Thomas appeared on Dr Phil in disguise, Business Insider claimed that the book made the idea of the ‘successful sociopath’ popular. Ever heard of the statistic that most CEOs of major corporations are sociopaths.

She makes a point very early on in the book to emphasis that she’s never experienced any trauma in her life, abuse or otherwise and states she had a very normal upbringing, just very perceptible and a tendency to be easily bored. Her ability to have a charismatic and seductive mask allows her to analysis you for your flaws and ruthlessly manipulate you to get what she wants.

If you enjoy this book you might also like:

1. The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers can Teach Us about success
By Dr Kevin Dutton (Emphasises the spectrum of psychopathy using his own research as social psychologist and his experiences with his father, a diagnosed psychopath)

2. Brighton Rock by Graham Green (A terrifying portrait of a psychopath as a young man and features one of the most frightening marriages of all time)

PODCAST UPDATE! My favourite things

Have a listen to the full review of my latest podcast on ABC Radio’s ‘Overnights’ featuring Rod Quinn

This podcast looks at my favourite books from the last month and there’s a wide range to choose from- poetry, homeopathic recipes and popular historical fiction.

‘The Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller is an immensely popular historical fiction that gives an intimate look in the life of Achilles, the famous Greek mythological character and his lover Patroclus.

In March I interviewed Reece Carter, who is a Naturopath and self-professed ‘Herb Nerd’ about his book ‘The Garden Apothecary’ a book that incorporates gardening instructions and recipes to great your own natural remedies.

I’m excited to talk poetry with Nikita Gill’s ‘Wild Embers’ an instagram sensation who’s collection of poems empower women and have a modern twist on some fairytale classic.

What I’m Reading- April Edition

Red Clocks by Leon Zumas

889D3A6E-C417-4B0D-99D9-7EA021F74806.jpeg

What if abortion was illegal in America? IVF was banned? Every embryo had the same rights to life, liberty and property as you or I? This is the future of America in Zumas’ new novel.

Five very different women navigate rules in order to to do what is best for their bodies and to question what it means to be a a woman and a mother

PODCAST UPDATE! Intensity

vitchakorn-koonyosying-516467-unsplash.jpg

Have a listen to the full review of Vanessa’s holiday reads: ‘Heather, The Totality’ by Matthew Weiner, ‘Ostro’ by Julia Busuttil Nishimuraand ‘Dunkirk’ by A.D. Divine on ABC Radio’s ‘Overnights’ featuring presenter Rod Quinn.

‘Heather, The Totality’ is the first book by television director Matthew Weiner (creator of the famous TV show Mad Men) and tells the short story of Heather, who’s energy and force can revolve the lives of those around her.

‘Ostro’ is a great new cookbook on the scene that incorporates a variety of cultures and influences from Italian to Japanese to Maltese- highly recommended!

‘Dunkirk’ is a military history story by a WWII journalist and commander of one of the Little Ships from the famous Dunkirk evacuation. The one the ground experience provides a fascinating insight into this part of history. A very relevant story.

‘Dunkirk’ by A.D. Divine

Genre: Military History

A.D. Divine was the commander of one of the ‘Little Ships’ that was so crucial to the evacuation of Dunkirk. David Divine is also the journalist and writer to tell more about the patriotic legend of Dunkirk than any other writer- writing both non fiction and fictionalized versions of the event.

Of the 338 000 people who were rescued during the Dunkirk evacuation, the Little Ships was responsible for saving 90 000.

Divine was concerned that the history of Dunkirk would be based only on the Admiralty logs- those of the destroyers and minesweepers. The Little Ships seldom had time to fill out their logs as they rushed back and forth across the Channel, but Divine was determined that the part they played would not be forgotten.

So, together with J.D. Casswell, K.C., he gathered together the accounts of the voyages of the Little Ships, creating an oral history of the nine days of the evacuation.

The history of Dunkirk can retold as a tragedy or as a triumph. Churchill, when addressing the House of Commons somehow managed to described it as both. It’s interesting to gage what sort of journalist Divine is, for he was frightfully patriotic described as ‘one of the great generations of journalists from the outer reaches of the British Empire’ but also earned a reputation for giving credit where credit was due.

In his book, Divine says that there is in the story of the British retreat at Dunkirk a saga of heroism and self-denial that will one day receive its full meed of praise. Divine’s story was inspiration for the Christopher Nolan 2017 film, it provided true-life stories for the film.

There has been a lot of media attention about Dunkirk recently due to the Christopher Nolan film and also the recent film ‘The Darkest Hour’ starring Gary Oldman. This book is a good introduction into this part of history but do be mindful…it can drag on!

Love,
Vanessa

‘Heather, the Totality’ by Matthew Weiner

27845946_10156958556473368_121414549_o.jpg

Genre: Fiction, Novella

Weiner was the creator, writer, executive producer and director of Mad Men and this is his first novel. This story is about the Breakstone family, a wealthy Manhattan family who arrange their lives arrange their daughter Heather. But as Heather gets older and her empathy sharpens and her radiance attracts more and more dark interest. Meanwhile a very different life, one raised in poverty and violence, is beginning its own malign orbit around Heather.

The major themes of the story are obsession, commitment, family and money. The book plays on these themes in their extremes through the lives of the two major characters Heather and Bobby.

The overall message of the book: love can be all encompassing and all consuming or it can be a feeling that grows with time and nurturing.

The writing style is succinct and has short paragraphs to set scenes. Each chapter changes character perspectives which suits the story because it highlights how Heather is a powerful force through people’s lives.

An informal writing style but a very specific layout. The informal style makes the book flow and read easily, while the structure allows for Weiner to project all he wants about the characters in a very short amount of time.

The mood is bleak and ominous throughout the story and this literary device is used to create ambivalence throughout the book. Even the opening line ‘Mark and Karen Breakstone got married a little late in life’ creates ambiguity. Are they one of the lucky ones who found each other or was it through tiredness and desperation that they got together?

Even the setting is a literary device that Weiner has chosen. New York is a dichotomy of wealth and poverty, of opportunity and adversity. The author was successful at fleshing out well-rounded characters in a short amount of time. He highlighted how uncomfortable consequences occur when two dichotomies collide and how it creates upheaval in someone’s simple world.

Being a novella, everything is succinct and this carries through to the book’s ending- short and punchy

I would recommend this book because it’s a deceptively complex story. The characters feel real because you see into their world through eyes which highlights the sometimes depressing realism we have when exposed to their honest thoughts.

What do you think? Would you read this?

Love,
Vanessa