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Authors: Mary Jo Buttafuoco

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Getting It Through My Thick Skull

BOOK: Getting It Through My Thick Skull

Getting It Through
My Thick Skull

Why I Stayed,
What I Learned,
and What Millions
of People Involved with Sociopaths
Need to Know


with julie mcCarron

Health Communications, Inc.
Deerfield Beach, Florida

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Buttafuoco, Mary Jo.

    Getting it through my thick skull : why I stayed, what I learned, and what millions of people involved with sociopaths need to know / Mary Jo Buttafuoco with Julie McCarron.

       p. cm.

   eISBN-13: 978-0-7573-9600-7 eISBN-10: 0-7573-9600-3

   1. Buttafuoco, Mary Jo. 2. Buttafuoco, Mary Jo—Marriage.

    3. Buttafuoco, Mary Jo—Family. 4. Buttafuoco, Joey. 5. Antisocial personality disorders—United States—Case studies. 6. Attempted murder—New York (State)—Long Island—Case studies. I. McCarron,
Julie. II. Title.
CT275.B83765A3 2009


©2009 Mary Jo Buttafuoco
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.

HCI, its logos, and marks are trademarks of Health Communications, Inc.

Publisher: Health Communications, Inc.
               3201 S.W. 15th Street
               Deerfield Beach, FL 33442–8190

Cover art and photography by StuArt Digital Inc., Chatsworth, CA,
Mary Jo’s makeup by Martine Tendler
Interior design and formatting by Dawn Von Strolley Grove







For Paul and Jessica







“I did then what I knew then,

but when I knew better

I did better.”

                               —Maya Angelou



Chapter 1: April Showers Bring May Prowlers

Chapter 2: Wheels of Justice

Chapter 3: A Match Made in Massapequa

Chapter 4: Going Bonkers in Baldwin

Chapter 5: The Narcissist Next Door

Chapter 6: Notorious J.O.E

Chapter 7: Good-Bye L.I., Hello L.A

Chapter 8: Rehabilitation

Chapter 9: Gumption Junction

Chapter 10: Flying Solo

Chapter 11: Love Redux

Chapter 12: Stu to the Rescue

Chapter 13:The Life Lift




oey Buttafuoco is a sociopath. There, I said it. Sad but true. The man who stole my heart in high school—whose large, hardworking Italian family embraced me, who constantly professed undying love and devotion, with whom I shared a million happy, fun times—is a sociopath. I loved my husband with all my heart, raised two great children with him, and fully expected that we would grow old together in our beautiful waterfront home on Long Island, surrounded by family and close friends. I stood steadfast next to this man, ferociously defending him for years after the infamous shooting by Amy Fisher turned our last name into a worldwide punch line. This same man is also the walking, talking dictionary definition of a clinical sociopath. This was a recent, life-changing realization for me—and goes a long way toward answering the one question that seems to fascinate the public more than any other:
Why did she stay for so long?
It’s clear to me now: I was in thrall for almost thirty years to a sociopath.

Ironically enough, it was our son, Paul, who brought this inescapable truth to my attention. Two years ago, on Father’s Day 2007, my son and I were discussing Joey’s latest embarrassing stunt—a highly publicized, entirely fake “reunion” between him and Amy Fisher, in which they held hands, kissed for the cameras, and claimed they were “getting back together.” Joey and I were no longer married, but his actions continued to affect us all. I could only shake my head and wonder, as I had countless times over the years,
When is he going to grow up? Why is he making such a fool of himself? When will he ever get it?

“Never,” Paul said flatly. “He’s never going to get it. He’s a sociopath.”

My first reaction was denial. “Sociopath” is a scary-sounding word. I thought a sociopath was a crazy person, a nut job, someone who couldn’t function in society, or a charming but cold-blooded killer. The word has been used so often to casually describe extreme cases—like O. J. Simpson, Scott Peterson, and Ted Bundy—that the true nature and scope of its meaning eluded me. But Paul’s calm certainty and the discussion that followed nagged at me long after we moved on to other topics. The word reverberated in the back of my mind for the rest of the day. Late that night, when all our company had gone home, I went to my computer and Googled the words “sociopath traits.” In less than a second, up popped a huge list of articles. I clicked on the very first link: “The Sociopathic Style: A Checklist,” developed by Dr. Robert Hare, coauthor of
Snakes in Suits
, and read this list of traits:

Glibness and superficial charm
Grandiose self-worth
Need for stimulation/prone to boredom
Pathological lying
Conning and manipulative
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect
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