Confessions of a Sociopath is both an extraordinary memoir and a contribution to many fields (psychology, sociology, ethics and law to name a few). It is surely rare for a sociopath to seek out the appropriateness of that diagnosis in their own case. It is even rarer for that confirmed diagnosis to be not only personally embraced but publicly advertised (that at time of writing the author was a high-functioning law professor with ostensibly a lot to lose from the disclosure further underlines the point). Perhaps most arresting of all is Thomas’s claim that while sociopaths are indeed disturbingly different from the ‘norm’, there are senses in which the norm and the ‘variant’ also overlap – ‘Recently I have been thinking that the real problem is not in getting ‘normal’ people to believe that we’re better than they think, but in getting them to see that the ‘normal’ ones are actually worse than they believe themselves to be’ (p.294). Autobiographical odyssey and academic research combine in content which is as confronting as the style of writing is accessible. The latter is itself unsettling in light of the subject matter, providing the icing (in Australia we don’t say ‘frosting’!) on a substantial but very hard to digest cake.

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