Steroids for the soul…..

As a psychologist and psychology professor who has been teaching Abnormal Psychology classes for over a decade – the Lance Armstrong interview and subsequent coverage reminded me of how naïve we are as a culture and how the media loves both demonizing and profiteering off of the diagnosis of our time.

Narcissism.

It’s so simple, so easy, so textbook (in fact I would use Lance Armstrong as the easy essay question on one of my exams). The grandiosity, lack of insight, lack of empathy, entitlement. My 9 year old could have diagnosed him.

He also had the subtle stuff, the stuff that has everyone pissed off- but which is a standard part of the narcissistic picture. They CAN’T take responsibility – even when they TRY to take responsibility.

Armstrong was going to win at all costs. And he was a hell of an opportunist, even harnessing his cancer as a means of more exposure, more endorsements, more Lance. I honestly think though his handlers and what remains of his camp tells him that “the jig is up bike boy – own it and tell the world WHY” – he can’t.
That is why his Oprah apology was so anemic, why his confessions are so unsatisfying. They are empty calories – there is no there there.

At a YOUNG age athletes are taught to win. It is typically a zero sum game. Pop Warner coaches and gym teachers talk a tough game of teamwork, leadership and honor – but Nike endorsement deals go to the athlete that hogs the ball, woos the agents, and wins the race.

And that requires a fairly high dose of narcissism. Selfish wins the race. We want them to win, we need them to win – we are a world that CRAVES heroes. And so we ignore the grandiosity, the coldness, the aloofness – think those are the traits of a winner.

Steroids did to his body what narcissism did to his soul. Made him faster, more efficient, and less honest – it was no longer his body, it was his drugs. In essence his body was in denial – the steroids greased the skids. Narcissism made him slicker, more efficient, and less honest. Narcissism puts a soul into denial, and kills all vocabulary around personal ownership and integrity.

Armstrong will become a post-script – but will have an easier time selling his book than I will. Parents will continue having their kids idolize athletes and celebrities rather than scholars and teachers. And the public needs to stop all the handwringing – he behaved just as he should have.

Narcissism needed a new poster child….have at it Lance.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 at 4:24 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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