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Monday, December 22, 2014

Lance Armstrong's false emotionality

I've written about Lance Armstrong's sociopathy before, here and here and here and here. I thought I'd covered the topic fairly exhaustively. But when it comes to lessons about sociopathy, Armstrong is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Yesterday, commenter "Remnant" forwarded an article titled Lance Armstrong: I'd never cheat playing golf.

The relevant excerpt:

In an essay for Golf Digest, Armstrong writes he is drawn to golf because of its honor code -- the opposite, he says, of what he found in cycling.

"Cycling, it was the Wild West. Nobody considered doping cheating," Armstrong wrote. "It was an arms race where absolutely anything went, and it was every man for himself. You might consider me the last guy to have anything to say about cheating, but golf is different. I love adhering to a code of honor that we in cycling didn't have. If I moved my ball in the rough and got caught, I wouldn't just regret it, I'd be heartbroken forever. When I think about reform in cycling, I think about golf."

Armstrong actually has a valid point about cycling: it was, and probably still is, a dirty sport. (That, of course, doesn't come close to justifying the vicious way Armstrong went after those who said he was doping.)

But what betrays Armstrong's sociopathy here is his penultimate sentence: "If I moved my ball in the rough and got caught, I wouldn't just regret it, I'd be heartbroken forever." 

If most of us got caught moving our ball in the rough, we'd be ashamed. And when our friends kiddingly brought our trespass up to us later on, we'd feel a twinge of embarrassment. Unless, of course, they continually brought it up, in which case, after a certain point, the embarrassment would probably give way to annoyance. 

But Armstrong? He's such a saint that he'd be "heartbroken forever." 

With sociopaths, it's never enough to pose as an ordinary, decent person. They must show that they are morally superior to ordinary human beings. So they overdo it, and make ridiculous claims like that. 

But sociopaths are in fact morally inferior to ordinary people -- so extremely inferior that they have no sense of what an ordinary person feels. So, they make wildly inflated claims about their own supposed morality, not realizing that they're actually giving themselves away this way.

And Armstrong didn't just exaggerate his emotion: he used the wrong one. Heartbreak is what we feel when a loved one dies. Some people also use the term in the context of romantic disappointment. If we get caught cheating, what we feel is embarrassment, or shame. But sociopaths feel neither embarrassment nor shame. And, metaphorically speaking, they are heartless. So, they confuse the normal emotions. 

Note his three words, "and got caught." It's hard not to hear an echo of his cycling career here: Armstrong didn't really regret the doping, he only regretted getting caught. Here he unwittingly admits it would be likewise with golf.

Note also that Armstrong claimed, "I love adhering to a code of honor…"

If most of us are in a situation where there is a code of honor involved, we would feel obliged to conform to its dictates, especially since we would fear the consequences if we broke it. And we would probably take a certain measure of comfort in knowing that others are probably conforming as well. 

Those would be the prevailing emotions. 

But Armstrong? He's such a honorable guy that he absolutely loves adhering to the code!

Keep it coming, Lance.

If you ever stop acting like a sociopath, I'll be heartbroken forever.


Anonymous said...

Heartbroken forever over moving a golf ball but when it came to bullying team mates and accusing work colleagues of being prostitutes it was different.

I have to wonder though, where does he get his "rush" from now? It can't be from hitting a little ball around and loving adhering to codes?


John Craig said...

Andrew --

Good question. I'd say part of the rush comes from lying to people, thus "proving" to himself that he's smarter than they are. (This is how a sociopath proves his "intelligence.")

He tried to get into masters swimming, but thank goodness USMS would not allow him in.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of "Dupers Delight"? it's a micro expression (usually) or a full blown grin when a sociopath or narcissist can't help but express their satisfaction when outwitting someone or causing pain.

I've experienced it, I would like to spend some time watching Lance's Oprah interview to see if I can spot it.


John Craig said...

Andrew --
Yes, it's also called "sport lying."

I don't recall seeing it in the Oprah interview, but maybe I didn't watch closely enough. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't there, though, Armstrong's feet were really being held to the fire at that point. Plus, he's one of the sociopath who seems almost never to smile. Google-image him: in th erase pictures where he's "smiling," it looks more like a forced grimace.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't think that Lance Armstrong is drawn to the game of golf (and/or any other sport) because of any honor code - total b.s. He's just saying what sounds good, playing people.


Steven said...

I guess Andrew has been watching 'Lie to me'. Quite a good show.

wow heartbroken forever. That really jumps out when you read it. So extreme, inappropriate and ridiculous.

Alex the Goon said...

It's strange he would say cycling has no code of honor. If a handful of riders are vying for the lead in a long (or multi-day) race, and one of those guys has a flat tire or the like, the other leaders will slow down a bit, to allow the unlucky one to get back in the race. I'd be stumped if I had to think of a similat display of sportsmanship in other team sports, like football, baseball, or especially basketball.

They have other displays of honor, like if there's a horrible accident, or if they're staging a kind of protest -- they will all simply ride as a group, with no one racing for a win. I haven't watched in a few years, so I can't think of other examples right now. The anti-doping witchhunts made it uninteresting. I think 3 or 4 years in a row, the winner was unseated post facto. It felt like college football or something, where "Who Won?" was still in question, even after all the games had been played.

Lucian Lafayette said...

Good comment. The "heartbroken forever" could be excused as artistic license but then again Armstrong is not a writer so why the exaggeration? Based on what now appears to be a history of doping on his part, I think you hit the nail on the head.

I have to admit a touch of sadness when it finally became obvious to even the last cave dweller that Armstrong was dirty. My wife and I are both recreational cyclists and watch "The Tour" with interest each time it airs. With his history of cancer, Armstrong would have made for a great success story.

As for golf, the only version I play is with one club, on green carpet, preferably with windmill obstacles, and with my son as a partner.

John Craig said...

Luke --
I actually held it against Armstrong that he was doping less than I would have had he been competing in a relatively clean sport, like swimming. What gave his character away was the other things: how he treated the other guys on his team, how he treated the various people who said he was juicing, how he wanted the reputation for saintliness, etc.

I'm with you on the mini golf, that's the only version I play.

Marie Curie said...

Lance Armstrong - definite sociopath

President Obama - really? (could you envision a true sociopath spend any substantial amount of time as a "community organizer"?)

Sure, he's attained a powerful position (that many s'paths would envy), but was the power something he lusted after eternally? I just don't see it dude, sorry.

PS - is the diagnosis really so easy to make?

John Craig said...

Marie Curie --
I'm not entirely positive about Obama, that's why I haven't written a sociopath alert about him. He's obviously an extremely narcissistic personality at the very least, though. And what MAY give him away as a sociopath is his near-pathological lying. Practically every time he opens his mouth, another lie comes out, and he's not called on it because the media abets him.

And has there ever been President before whose past wa shrouded in such secrecy, who had his school records sealed, etc?

Yes, he has lusted for power from a young age. He told his Harvard Law school classmates that he intended to become Mayor of Chicago. And being a community organizer is not the same as being a social worker. It was his best route to meet all the powerful people in Chicago, and to get close to the levers of power.

Again, I'm not entirely positive that Obama is a sociopath, but he certainly gives off some of the signs.

Once you're familiar with sociopaths, there are certain signals they give off, certain patterns of behavior, as with Armstrong. If I hadn't written those other for posts about him, and if he hadn't been publicly discredited as a doper, I don't think people would have been convinced of his sociopathy by just this post, where I talk about his use of language. But, if you're familiar with the signs, the way he talks about how he'd be heartbroken forever and how he loves adhering to a code of honor would be enough to make you suspicious.