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Friday, January 18, 2013

Lance's sociopathy, Part II

This blog's original post on Lance Armstrong's sociopathy has gotten over 1900 hits in the past week, over 1000 in the past 24 hours alone. This means a lot of people have Googled, "Is Lance Armstrong a sociopath?" or similar questions.

It's gratifying that so many people are beginning to see through the (formerly) heroic facade to the sociopathic personality beneath.

When it was announced that Armstrong would "confess" in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the question arose, exactly what would he admit to and what did he expect to gain from such a "confession"?

Confessing to something you've already been convicted of is a fairly hollow exercise in the first place. But it became even hollower as it quickly became apparent that Lance only consented to it in hopes of getting a reduction of his lifetime ban from certain sports.

Some held out hope that at least the sight of Lance finally admitting to his guilt and expressing remorse would, if not give him absolution, at least give viewers some small satisfaction.

During last night's interview, Lance mostly said the right things. But it was the way in which he said them -- his body language, so to speak -- that was most revealing. He didn't seem in the least perturbed by having to confess to his misdeeds. His delivery was matter of fact and off-handed, even somewhat disengaged. His voice held the same level of emotion that a normal person's might have while discussing a strategic mistake he had made during a minor chess game from thirty years before.

Armstrong said he felt embarrassed, yet he seemed completely unembarrassed (as a sociopath, he is incapable of that emotion). He never once blushed. He never seemed ill at ease (as a sociopath, he sees himself as in control of every situation). He never projected any real guilt or remorse (again, as a sociopath, he is incapable of those emotions).

What he said was also occasionally revealing. On several occasions, when asked about specific instances, he simply claimed he couldn't remember. (How much coaching did he have from his lawyers before this interview?)

Armstrong said that he viewed doping as "part of the job." In other words, he had no choice but to do it.

When asked about his numerous lies, Armstrong replied that he had said "one big lie, many times." In sociopath-ese, this means that he basically only lied once.

Winfrey asked Armstrong how much his doctor Michele Ferrari had helped him with his doping program. Armstrong demurred, saying he felt "uncomfortable" talking about others, as if he is too nice a guy to say anything bad about anyone. This, after years of viciously tarring anybody who dared suggest that he wasn't completely clean.

Armstrong referred to himself as "a flawed character." This is what a sociopath's supporters will often say about him, implying that he is just a normal person with flaws, just like all the rest of us. As in, "Okay, so the guy made a mistake, so what? After all, he's only human -- what're you, perfect?"

But a sociopath is in fact flawed in a way vastly different than most of us: he is completely without redeeming traits. He is incapable of love, intrinsically dishonest, without loyalty, and utterly without conscience.

The overall pattern of Armstrong's life and relationships can only lead to that conclusion.


Unknown said...

Why the interest in sociopathy?

Sociopaths supposedly make up 4% of the population world wide, about the same as homos. I never did get the evolutionary point of homos, and the raison d'etre for sociopaths escapes me as well. These sociopaths screw folks over and you'd think someone along the way would eliminate them.

John Craig said...

John --
I've been fascinated, maybe even obsessed, with sociopaths, ever since I got hoodwinked by one when I was 25 (I'm 58 now). Before I realized what she was all about I never could have imagined that there could be anybody quite so dishonest, disloyal, impulsive, cold, etc. For that reason they're sort of fascinating, and when I see famous ones, I like to out them. (See the other "sociopath alert's" in this blog.)

I agree about gays, no one has ever come up with a really compelling reason why they exist, but I can actually see the evolutionary strategy behind being a sociopath. As long as they're a small enough percentage of the population, people will fall for them (look at how people idolized Armstrong), and they will enjoy more reproductive success in the meantime, before people wake up to their true natures.

Gilbert Ratchet said...

"ever since I got hoodwinked by one when I was 25"

Well, what happened? :-)

John Craig said...

Gilbert --
Long, long story, too long to relate here. Basically, I got involved with this woman who swam in the same masters program I did. She lied about absolutely everything (at one point she told me she had cancer when she didn't), and I believed it all. Looking back, it's hard to believe I was that naive, but I was. (The only people who were never naive about sociopaths are other sociopaths.) Anyway, ever since, I've been a connoisseur. said...

Earlier you wrote that Lance unlike Tiger cheated on his sport. I contend that what Tiger did with drugs between the 72nd hole of his last major win and the playoff the next day was cheating on his sport also.

Until Tiger or the PGA comes clean on what happened between rounds, I don't think tiger will win another major.
Its a curse like the red sox had... Ironically, they overcame that curse with their two greatest hitters on the juice.


John Craig said... --
You make a good point. I can see how being juiced could help a golfer (especially off the tee), though the correlation between strength and performance isn't as direct as in most sports.