The sociopath in fiction is an amoral serial killer. A monster in human form without feeling or emotion. Patrick Bateman from American Psycho comes to mind. Or every other Stephen King villain. The reality of the sociopath is that they comprise four percent of the population, and most of them live among us, without murdering anyone.
Tell Me Lies follows a young college woman who becomes enthralled by a charming albeit manipulative womanizer with sociopathic tendencies.
I quickly learned that a sociopath is a person with a mental health disorder called Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), and that the profile of a serial killer is only at one far, rare end of the sociopathic spectrum. On the opposite end and in between, there are varying degrees of sociopathy, some hardly traceable, many easily masked. And more disturbingly, I discovered that sociopaths are startlingly common, and that the possibility I’d dated one or two was not so farfetched.
In researching for her novel, Lovering read up on the literature surrounding these kinds of people. One you can browse right now is the blog Sociopath World by the author of Confessions of a Sociopath. She also read The Sociopath Next Door and the novel You.
What characterizes all sociopathy, regardless of where it lies on the spectrum, is a common trait: sociopaths do not experience guilt or remorse.
The vast majority of sociopaths are men, the statistics claim that the male to female ratio could be something like 20:1. Lovering herself dated a person who could very well have been one, and the odds are good that at least some of us have encountered individuals with sociopathy in our lives.
In writing the sections of her novel from the sociopathic character’s point of view, Lovering was able to see life through his eyes. It’s a testament to the power of the written word that even with such a diffident mental state, it’s still possible to step into somebody else’s shoes and see the world from their point of view, if only for a short while. Considering another person’s perspective is something that all of us can always use practice in, even if you are not a sociopath.
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