Arts

She Lied, Cheated and Stole. Then She Wrote a Book About It.

SOCIOPATH: A Memoir, by Patric Gagne


That Patric Gagne is a sociopath isn’t news. She wrote about it for The New York Times’s Modern Love column, which led to a deal for a book that I have just hurled across the room like a discus, and an extensive pre-publication interview with my colleague David Marchese.

Gagne seems also to be afflicted, or blessed, with hyperthymesia, a.k.a highly superior autobiographical memory: a rare condition publicized in an old “60 Minutes” segment featuring the actress Marilu Henner.

How else, unless Gagne was concealing a small tape recorder on her person since childhood (not out of the question, of course, for a sociopath) does she recall decades-old dialogue in such precise detail? And incidentally, how come so much of that is rat-a-tat banter suitable for a corny ’90s rom-com?

“I’d kill myself if everywhere I went, people knew who I was,” Gagne, who in young adulthood follows her father into the music business, tells a flirtatious rock guitaristto whom she’s confided her sociopathy.

“Instead of killing other people, you mean?” he replies.

Rimshot!

The ostensible goal of “Sociopath,” as the memoir is titled in dramatic Sharpie letters on the cover, is to address exactly this sort of misconception, to destigmatize an oft-misunderstood personality type. Most of Gagne’s kind are not murderers. She argues that sociopathy is a spectrum disorder, like autism, affecting “millions,” though there’s no source for this number; citation in “Sociopath” is not footnotes but excited “flipping” through library books.

Other than stabbing a “neighborhood terror” in the head with a pencil when she was in second grade, flinging a glass pitcher at a wall and occasionally clawing herself in frustration to the point of bleeding, Gagne has tended to be more creepy than violent in her transgressive behavior. Relief from a certain temperamental blankness has come, she writes, by breaking into other people’s homes and joyriding in their dubiously borrowed cars.

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