Excerpt: 'Getting It Through My Thick Skull'

PHOTO: Mary Jo Buttafuco Book Jacket

Mary Jo Buttafuoco had it all until a fateful day in 1992 when she was shot in the head by Amy Fisher on her own front porch in Massapequa, N.Y.

In her new book, "Getting It Through My Thick Skull: Why I Stayed, What I Learned, and What Millions of People Involved with Sociopaths Need to Know," she answers the question everyone has been asking: Why did she stand by her husband, Joey Buttafuoco, as he and Fisher continued to make news?

She reveals new private details about her struggles and helps people understand the tell-tale signs of a sociopath. She also offers hope on how to reclaim your life after tragedy.

Read an excerpt of the book below and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.

VIDEO: More than 17 years later, Mary Jo Buttafuoco tells her survival story.
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Excerpt

Joey 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:

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