This article in today's Times about Lenny Dykstra shows once again that the more you know about a sociopath, the more evidence you get of his sociopathy (italics mine). A few excerpts:
Once-Celebrated Recklessness Leads to Dykstra’s Financial Fall
By Harvey Araton
LOS ANGELES — Before promoting a single stock or venturing into the perilous world of magazine publishing, Lenny Dykstra lived the good life, essentially risk-free. He signed autographs, shook hands and banked the profits from his car-wash business.
A life once brimming with unbridled energy and flush with cash has ground to a bankrupt halt. Dykstra’s wife of 23 years — the mother of his three sons — divorced him. His mother and brothers are estranged from him.
Sociopaths end up alienating just about everybody.
Not long ago, Dykstra was the proud owner of an $18.5 million mansion in Thousand Oaks, Calif., which he purchased in 2007 from Wayne Gretzky. But since early June, home has been a Los Angeles County jail in a part of the city with no ocean views and where bail bondsmen storefronts outnumber palm trees.
Dykstra, 48, faces federal charges of bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice, along with state charges of identify theft, grand theft auto and possession of drugs. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts and recently boasted to his 5,500-plus followers on Twitter, “With your support, I will have my day!” The promise, alas, was a come-on for financial contributions as Dykstra, who three years ago listed his net worth as $58 million, has been unable to post $500,000 bail and has been appointed a public defender in the federal case.
Sociopaths are always looking for their next scam.
Even his authenticity on Twitter was suspect: the post was made by Dan Herman, a 26-year-old Phillies fan who idolized Dykstra as a boy, claims to be his business manager and said he was working on a Dykstra documentary to raise money for his legal defense fund. In a telephone interview, Herman characterized Dykstra as a well-meaning victim of “unscrupulous people” who tried to take advantage of his celebrity and of overzealous law enforcement officials in Los Angeles.
Sociopaths often keep a naive young fan nearby to sing their praises and do their bidding.
In May 1991, driving with his Phillies teammate Darren Daulton and with nearly double the legal blood-alcohol limit, Dykstra crashed his speeding car sideways into a tree, seriously injuring both of them. Two months earlier he was placed on a year’s probation by Commissioner Fay Vincent after admitting to losing $78,000 in high-stakes poker games in Mississippi.
High stakes gambling and reckless driving are both yellow flags: because sociopaths have higher thresholds of excitement, these activities appeal to them.
Within baseball’s ultracompetitive environment, Dykstra was practically iconic among peers for his take-no-prisoners ferocity, Ojeda said. The demands of the game, he added, left no time to worry about possible long-term behavioral trends and effects. “The truth was that we despised the guys who worried about their longevity, about getting hurt, and there were more guys with the same attitude as Lenny on our ’86 championship team than with any group I’ve ever been around,” Ojeda said.
"Take no prisoners" is a phrase often used in reference to sociopaths. And in some environments, a sociopath's risk-taking approach is lionized.
The problem was that Dykstra had long been conditioned to dismiss those who told him he was too small at 5 feet 10 inches and 160 pounds to be a major league center fielder, much less a star. “In a sport where we were all hoping we were going to be great, he acted like he knew he was going to be great,” said Ron Darling.
That kind of bedrock faith in yourself, not thinking but knowing you're going to succeed, is another hallmark of sociopaths.
In Class A ball, Dykstra played under his eventual Mets manager, Davey Johnson, who lectured him on the wisdom of hitting line drives, playing small ball. Dykstra heeded the advice for most of his time with the Mets, but by 1993, with Dykstra having gone to Philadelphia in a 1989 trade, his body type changed drastically.
With muscle packed onto muscle, he had career highs in home runs (19) and doubles (44) and was second in the National League’s Most Valuable Player award voting to Barry Bonds after leading the Phillies to the World Series.
...Few were surprised 11 years later when he was caught in the net cast by baseball’s investigation into anabolic steroid use. Dykstra denied it but his brother Kevin — embittered by Lenny’s divestiture of the car-wash businesses for $51 million and not paid the $4 million he claimed he had been promised — cooperated with the former senator George J. Mitchell, who headed the investigation.
Nonsociopaths take steroids too, but a sociopath is far more likely to do so. Another yellow flag.
“Lenny’s whole thing was that he always wanted to be bigger, in every way,” Kevin Dykstra said in a telephone interview. “After baseball, he was just never happy with what he had. He had a $4 million house, but he had to get Gretzky’s house. He had nice cars, but he had to have a Maybach. He flew first class, but he wanted his own private jet.”
Sociopaths love the trappings. And they never have peace of mind.
Wayne Neilsen, who is the brother of Lenny and Kevin Dykstra’s mother, Marilyn, and also worked in the car-wash business, supported Kevin Dykstra’s claim of an equity stake in the business. “He screwed us all out of money,” Neilsen said in a telephone interview. “He didn’t do right by his family and we’ve kind of disowned him.”
Cheating other people out of their rightful money is a red flag for sociopathy; cheating your own family makes that sociopathy almost certain.
...As business became more complex, [Dykstra's] behavior became erratic and his relationships more hostile. He badgered employees all hours of the night, disavowed debts and operated on whims. By July 2009, when he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Dykstra was awash in multiple court actions by creditors as large as the former Washington Mutual and as small as an older brother, Brian, who sued him for back pay related to the car washes.
Dykstra was essentially operating a Ponzi scheme.
Dykstra's image and empire disintegrating, bills went unpaid and employees and even prospective employees were saddled with expenses as routine as interviews over dinner. The unluckiest employees were pressured into providing him credit card access with the promise they would be paid back with interest.
“One of the dumbest decisions I ever made, giving him my American Express card information,” said Kevin Coughlin, who left another job to become photo director for The Players Club, in part because Dykstra had been one of his favorite players. Coughlin said that Dykstra ran up tens of thousands of dollars on his card, including one $32,000 charge for a leased jet from Atlanta to Helena, Mont., where Dykstra’s son, Cutter, was playing minor league ball. Coughlin worked only 67 days for Dykstra, but it took months to recover the money.
Kevin Dykstra said Lenny used the same credit card ruse on their mother, Marilyn, and alleged that his brother invested, and lost, the $700,000 bonus his son Cutter received when he signed his first professional contract with the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Rhetorical question: What kind of person pulls that kind of scam on his own mother?
Asked if the family has sympathy for Lenny, or any temptation to visit him in jail, Kevin Dykstra said: “Listen, we were once a really tight family, but we still can’t believe what he did to us. You know, people used to say, oh, there are two sides to every story. Well, the results speak for themselves.”
Add up all the yellow and red flags, and the portrait of a sociopath is unmistakable.