Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC1360 AM out of Washington Township, reaching metro Philly. And my guest tonight is M.E. Thomas. She is the author of Confessions of a sociopath. She's a law professor, she's using a pseudonym. And from what I understand this is the first book authored by a sociopath, like, well talking about their own sociopathy. Welcome to the show M.E.
M.E. Thomas: Thank you.
Rob Kall: Now in the book, you mention your name is Morgan, now is that your real name or is that part of your pseudonym.
M.E. Thomas: Pseudonym.
Rob Kall: Pseudonym. Okay. So, this is new for me too, let me get started. Reading from the, the closing chapter of your book, you cite a forensic psychologist, Karen Franklin, and she said, "The psychopath is irredeemable. A dangerous outsider who must be contained or banished, circular in its reasoning, psychopathy is never, none the less a warring in its simplicity". Now you..
M.E. Thomas: Now she actually, she's referring to the definition. She's saying that that definition is wrong. So when she says that, she's saying, you know, here is what people think a psychopath is. This person who's irredeemable, and that's not true.
Rob Kall: Oh, cause that's not the way I read what your response was. Your response to that seemed to be, you know, your argument against that. So, I want to start, I wanted to start off with that, and then I want to get in to what is your goal for this book? Why did you write this?
M.E. Thomas: Okay, so first my response to, the, the Karen Franklin statement. I think that that is a criticism that's been levied against the diagnosis of sociopathy for awhile now. That to the extent that we define a sociopath as someone that does bad things, that of course they're going to seem like somebody who's evil, right? Somebody who is irredeemable, so when she says circular in its reasoning, she's saying, what sort of benefit does it give us, if we define sociopathy as evil, for instance. There's already a word for evil, there are already words for people who do bad things. And to mask it in the guise of, this is a psychiatric diagnosis, therefore it's legitimate enough to do things like deny somebody their parole, or keep them in prison indefinitely, that that is, overreaching and unscientific.
Rob Kall: Of course, that's exactly what Robert Hare advocates for. Robert Hare is a developer of the symptoms widely used to identify or detect psychopathy 314. But, but we're getting ahead. My question was, why'd you write this book?
M.E. Thomas: Oh yeah, why, why did I write the book? So I originally started writing a blog, and I wrote the blog largely as a sort of personal journaling exercise. I had recently suffered several set backs in both my professional and personal life in my late twenties. And I had been sort of casually diagnosed as a sociopath by one of my friends years earlier, a friend a casual acquaintance who was a co worker of mine. And at the time I didn't think much of the term sociopath. But then when I was going through this difficult time, I thought what is the common denominator between all of this failure? Failure in my relationships, failure with my job, I thought it must be me, there must be something that I'm doing that's making me, act this way.
So I started exploring sociopath. Googled it, started looking up some research. Found that there wasn't really that much that was helpful for sociopaths. Found that there was a lot of stuff that was extremely negative, and biased. And so I also thought, I can have some sort of resource for people to look at that's going to be more neutral and helpful. Trying to help sociopaths, or help people who are dealing with sociopaths, or are dealing with sociopathy. Rather than just sort of writing them off as human trash.
Rob Kall: Okay, so I've read almost all of your book. I would have finished it except I got a call for a last minute interview that I had to take. But I read ninety five percent of it, it's a very interesting book. Looking at your Amazon reviews, they're all over the place, from people who give you one to people who give you five. And it's some very interesting stuff in there. So let's start off, how would you describe what a sociopath is, what are the characteristics of a sociopath from your understanding?
M.E. Thomas: To my understanding of a sociopath is kind of different than something like anti social personality disorder. A sociopath for me is more this personality type that has been identified as existing by psychologists, for you know, over the past two centuries. People having knowledge that there are people who do bad things, and yet they're not delusional, they're rational, you know. So the term insanity sans delirium. You know these people have a moral insanity about them. And they're making rational choices, but they're just rational choices that most people wouldn't make.
And the term, when I think of sociopath I think of probably the sociopath as defined by Hervey Cleckley, right, who wrote The Mask of Sanity in the early part of the twentieth century. And looked at people who are very, functioning, can be very functioning in society. They tend to be superficially charming, they tend to be kind of glib, they tend to not really have strong emotions, you know, except maybe primitive emotions. They tend to be manipulative, they're, they lack empathy is probably the biggest one. They don't respond in the same sorts of emotional ways, to emotional stimulus as most people do. And they also, they're own emotional world seems to be stunted to the extent that they don't feel guilt, and because they don't feel guilt, then they don't really have a conscience either. The same way most people have a conscience that is largely informed by their feelings of guilt.
Rob Kall: In one portion of your book, you, you bring up the idea of vampires, you compare sociopaths to vampires in some way.