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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sociopath alert: Nelson Lewis

The NY Post ran the following item on page Six this morning (italics mine):

Many lies of DC impersonator

Washington social climber Nelson Lewis -- recently arrested for wearing a congressional pin while claiming to be Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston -- has tried other ruses before, sources told Page Six.

The 26-year-old former Fox News booker and "Laura Ingraham Show" producer was arrested by Capitol police on Nov. 17 wearing a congressional pin, which allows members to bypass security. Lewis could face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Kingston said Lewis merely worked for him as an intern five years ago. Lewis is a Savannah, Ga., native who rubbed elbows with Washington's powerful for more than six years and once claimed to be related to ousted Bank of America honcho Ken Lewis.

Sociopaths often try to claim such relations in order to boost their status: note Clark "Rockefeller" and the "Six Degrees of Separation" con artist who claimed to be Sidney Poitier's nephew. The woman who first educated me about sociopathy (when I was 25) was named Hines; she falsely claimed to be a member of the Heinz (ketchup) family, saying that her father had changed his name because he had "wanted to make it on his own."

A source told us, "He would parade around parties, telling tall stories and bringing fake business cards. He's a 'Talented Mr. Ripley'-type, except he didn't kill anyone."

Patricia Highsmith's Mr. Ripley was one of the best portrayals of a sociopath in fiction.

Lewis also said he was a diplomat to the Bahamas but "he said he didn't have to be called his excellency," New York Social Diary columnist Carol Joynt told us.

That's a nice sociopathic touch -- he doesn't insist on being called his excellency. What a regular fella!

Lewis -- who once falsely told friends he was dating one of this column's reporters -- handed Joynt a business card with the title, "Minister Plenipotentiary for Artistic Endeavors at the Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas." The Bahamian Embassy denied any connection to Lewis. He also claimed to be a confidant of Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, who recently wrote on her blog that he "has a big problem with the truth."

That's another nice touch -- how many of us know what a "plenipotentiary" is -- and would have the nerve to argue with such a title? (It does sound as if Lewis has plenty o' potential to be pretentious though.)

The DC-based Friends of the Art Museum of the Americas last week asked Lewis to resign as a board member. "His grasp of reality is so flawed that his presence is a real liability," another board member said in an e-mail seen by Page Six.

This is a typical misinterpretation of sociopathy by someone unfamiliar with the syndrome. Nelson does not have a weak grasp on reality, he is simply extremely dishonest.

Lewis' friend, CNN regular Dr. Marty Makary, said, "There is some basis for some of the stuff . . . his uncle was a senator . . . it was his uncle's pins. I know he spends time in the Bahamas and he knows the embassy people." 

How appropriate that the one person quoted who would try to put a positive spin on Lewis would be a commentator at CNN -- which actually does have a weak grasp on reality.

Lewis' lawyer said, "No comment."

You know you're in real trouble when your own lawyer doesn't bother to try to defend you.


Anonymous said...

How could Lewis imagine that he wasn't going to get caught? I guess there are smart sociopaths (Madoff?) and dumb ones.

John Craig said...

Anonymous --

Though, when you think about it, Madoff's scheme was inevitably going to unravel too, a Ponzi pyramid can't be kept going forever. Maybe he thought it would outlive him. If it hadn't been for the financial crisis, I guess it might have.

Anonymous said...

I knew Nelson Lewis when he was 7 yrs old until he was around 12. He always dressed in a blazer, dress shirt & slacks and and seemed much more mature than his actual age. Not at all like other children of his age. His family is very well known and respected in Savannah, GA and I believe he was playing a charade as a young child -trying to live up to the family name, but inside he probably never felt he quite measured up.

Just my thoughts from memories of him as a young boy.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you, that's interesting. I wonder if he dressed himself that way or if his family dressed him that way. If the former, it seems to show how appearance-oriented he was from an early age. if the latter, it's a reflection of how superficial his parents were, or how they viewed him as a little dress up doll. Most seven-year-olds don't have that much say in their own wardrobes, but who knows.