Lance Armstrong, a Sociopath? Or a Psychopath on the order of O.J and maybe Oscar Pistorius?

 

London '12 WikiComns

London ’12 WikiComn

 

Armstrong '09 WikiComns

Armstrong ’09 WikiComns

 

Pistorius '11 WikiComns

Pistorius ’11 WikiComns


Nothing new about a hero falling from grace and joining the ranks of the villainous or foolish. This site includes pictures of Babe Ruth, General Patton, and Charlie Chaplin who travelled this path in the eyes of many. The infractions of these three, besides a kind of un-American personal arrogance, included, respectively, abusing a wife, slapping a soldier, and engaging in controversial relationships and politics.

What bothers many people about cyclist Lance Armstrong’s doping is that he lied about it to so many people for decades. His deception and effort to keep those in the know quiet entailed a massive, concerted effort over years—not just a lie or two about a couple of indiscretions. Some say only a sociopath could do such a thing.

If you’re one of a growing camp that wonders whether Armstrong is a sociopath, then look at the following list of traits and see if Armstrong fits the bill. I’ve used the list (and descriptions) of sociopathic traits that Armstrong’s Livestrong features on its website (http://www.livestrong.com/article/96175-characteristics-sociopaths/). Most lists of sociopathic traits include the same qualities. The Mayo Clinic’s description of a milder form of sociopathy–called anti-social personality disorder—can be found at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/antisocial-personality-disorder/DS00829/DSECTION=symptoms.

Look at the list below and make a mental note of which traits Armstrong manifests. I’ve given examples in italics for some of the traits to start you off.

ARROGANCE
Sociopaths often have an inflated view of their abilities and self-worth, according to The Sociopathic Style, a support network for victims of sociopathic relationships. Sociopaths often feel they are superior to everyone else. They can be charming, engaging and slick.  Armstrong thumped his chest often, claiming to have worked longer and harder and smarter than his   rivals. He told Oprah   “My ruthless desire to win at all costs served me well on the bike but the level it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw. That desire, that attitude, that arrogance.” [Wiki]

LYING
A sociopathic person is involved in persistent lying or deceit, the Mayo Clinic reports. Sociopaths can be shrewd or cunning in the way they lie in order to get what they want. They can be deceptive, unscrupulous and dishonest. He also told Oprah that his “mythic, perfect story” was “one big lie”, and attributed his denials to being “a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted, and to control every outcome.” [Wiki]

LACK OF REMORSE
Sociopaths can be coldhearted and unconcerned about the painful consequences of their actions. They lack remorse, guilt or conscience. They are callous, inconsiderate and even contemptuous of the people they manipulate. In his Doprah interview,  Armstrong said that while doping, he neither felt that it was wrong nor felt bad about what he was doing.

IRRESPONSIBILITY
Sociopaths often fail to honor or fulfill commitments–to others or to themselves.

AGGRESSION
Sociopaths can become irritable and annoyed, which sometimes results in threats, verbal abuse and other acts of aggression. Several teammates have accused Armstrong of bullying and strong-arming them to dope and/or to keep quiet.

EARLY PROBLEMS
The behavior of a sociopath may be noticed in childhood or adolescence. Armstrong claimed to be uber-competitive as far back as the mid ’80s as a restless, rambunctious teens.

And speaking of early childhood years, they are  critical in the making of sociopaths. Sources— including Armstrong himself—speak of his hard, difficult childhood in Plano, Texas. Armstrong’s father, Eddie Gunderson, —a reluctant dad and abusive husband– went missing from his life when he was two. According to reports, Armstrong has refused to deal with him ever since. As for his step-father Terry Armstrong, reports suggest he was stern and abusive towards his stepson.

What’s your assessment?  Is Armstrong a sociopath? What evidence or examples can you cite to make your case?

Does Armstrong belong to a list of fallen athletic heroes that includes O.J. Simpson—and now probably “Blade Runner” who was charged with assault in 2009 and murder in 2013. In other words, does Armstrong rise to their level of sociopathy—often called psychopathy—which sometimes involves serious aggression (e.g., assault and murder)?

Comments

  1. Larry Hubbart says:

    See the reactions of a body language expert to Lance’s Oprah “confession.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolkinseygoman/2013/01/18/why-lance-armstrong-looks-like-a-liar/

  2. Kent Hinckley says:

    I was more interested in influences that contributed to Lance’s behavior. His arrogance stems from a feeling of inferiority, and indeed his father abandoned him which in his mind validated his low self-esteem. And he had testicular cancer — a severe form of anger at the very core. Rather than throw various psychological terms to describe him, I hope he is encouraged to address his belief systems. At the moment, he seems to avoid this challenge, but it will transform him. To get out of his self-destructive web, he will feel deep pain as he goes through it.

    • Kent,
      You make an interesting point re the correlation ‘tween arrogance and inferiority. I think you’re right re Lance, tho I’m always trying to figure out whether a given cocky person I meet is coming from a feeling of inferiority or superiority. If Lance’s fathers’ behavior is to blame for a possible sense of inferiority, then Lance needs to keep reminding himself (am sure he already knows) that the abuse/deficits he experienced is not his fault.
      Your point re testicular cancer is thought provoking. Hadn’t heard that anger might cause the condition, tho maybe you didn’t mean to suggest it. BUT, wow, I can see where the disease could cause a competitive (might I say “macho”?) guy from Texas major angst and resentment.

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