Never Met a Sociopath? Now You Have

Patric Gagne explains how she navigates the world with antisocial personality disorder
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2024 9:00 AM CST

If you met Patric Gagne in person, chances are you wouldn't think she was a sociopath. But that's exactly what she is, and she's written about it in an upcoming memoir named for her life with antisocial personality disorder. Even though sociopaths are considered "the worst, most amoral among us," per David Marchese, writing for the New York Times, Gagne says it's more nuanced than that. "Sociopathy is a perilous mental disorder; the traits associated with sociopathy aren't great," she concedes. "People want to believe that all sociopaths are monsters and that all monsters are easy to spot." But "the part that's missing is you can be a sociopath and have a healthy relationship. You can be a sociopath and be educated. That's a very uncomfortable reality for some people." A few standouts from Gagne's conversation with Marchese:

  • Early signs: Gagne notes that when she was in second grade, she stabbed a classmate in the head with a pencil, adding, "As a kid, I didn't understand why I was acting out the way that I was. All I knew was I felt this pressure, and something in my brain was telling me, 'Punch that kid, and you'll feel better.'"
  • Family life: Gagne talks about her own seemingly healthy relationships, including with her husband and their two school-age children. "I didn't have that immediate 'baby is born, I'm overwhelmed with love,'" she writes of her kids. "It was, 'I don't know this person. This person is very loud!' That connection just isn't there. It's not innate. But over time, you can build it."
  • Her role as therapist: Gagne once counseled patients with the same diagnosis as hers, and she feels uniquely qualified to do so. "My gift to my therapy patients was that I was able to lend them sociopathy," she says, noting she would ask them, "Why do you care? What does it matter? What do you need from that?"
  • Temptation: Gagne admits she has to work daily to resist her own sociopathic impulses, offering one "very vanilla" example: "When I go to the grocery store and I come home, if anything that I've purchased has gone bad, I'll make a mental note: 'I'm stealing this next time.'"
Read the interview in full here. (Think you could tell Gagne is a sociopath by listening to her? Check out this quick clip.)

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