Lance Armstrong May Be A Narcissist, But We Made Him A Hero

Lance-Armstrong-denies-pic-jpgLike a lot of people, I brought into the Lance Armstrong hype way before the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency implemented him. To me, even back then, wearing the Livestrong bracelets was not so much about supporting Lance Armstrong, but for fighting cancer and challenges everywhere.

A lot of people I talk to who supported Armstrong and believed him when he said he was being singled-out, are angry and many are destroying their Livestrong bracelets.

If you look at those bracelets as supporting Lance Armstrong, then I understand that, but everything is about perception and I think those bracelets and the good his foundation has done can’t be torn apart by his wrong doings.

What does bother me is that he apparently lied so many times, adamantly about his use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). I read in some reports that he threatened to ruin peoples lives, including his masseuse if she didn’t help keep his secrets.

When I watch the many video tapes of Armstrong vehemently denying his use of PEDs, even as the evidence against him mounted up, I started seeing a different side of him.

He no longer was the pristine character I and many others had mad him out to be, but that is our fault. We made him out to be better than he really was.

Once I really started to see Lance Armstrong and not his accomplishments and charisma, I started to see a very egotistical person with clear signs of a narcissistic personality.

I saw a man who was drunk with power. Here was a man who had done more for cancer research and awareness than anyone I can think of and yet cheated in the Tour de France and continued to lie about it for years despite the evidence.

He used his charisma to raise millions of dollars for cancer research, while at the same time cheating and dominating at the sport that made him famous.

Many people in history with narcissistic personalities were charismatic and often started off as good before turning bad, such as Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro and Jim Jones. There are many present day examples as well, just look around and you’ll start to notice them.

People with narcissistic personalities have big egos that create a need for importance and are often driven to success.

That doesn’t make them all bad people. All of us can be a bit narcissistic at times, but people with narcissistic personalities tend to take it to  the point where they can’t recognize when they are wrong or need help because they think they have no flaws and they don’t take personal responsibility.

Lance’s narcissistic personality made it hard for him to take responsibility for his actions and also made him think that he was smarter than everyone else. Even in the face of undeniable evidence, he still tried to hold on to his heroic facade.

The problem is, as people we usually like to characterize people as all  “good” or all  “bad”, but humans are complex beings with the ability to be both good and bad. When we put someone on a pedestal, only admiring their good side, we are quickly disappointed and hurt when they show us their not so good side, which all of us have to some extent.

A couple of years ago, a pastor here in Orlando who had a past history of drug abuse and sexual defiance, became very charismatic, successful and popular in the community, growing his congregation into tens of thousands, at multiple services at multiple churches and nationally televised.

He was outspoken and passionate about uplifting communities, staying away from drugs and challenging men to be men. People flocked to him and his church and clung to him as if he were the perfect example of a good man and a Christian.

Imagine everyone’s shock when he was found dead in a New York city hotel of “natural causes” with a white powdery substance in his position.

Many people believe the pastor died of a drug over dose, but his congregation and family refused to believe it and til this day his family is fighting to keep  his official cause of death sealed. They had made this man out to be a hero, to be perfect, just as many had did with Lance Armstrong, and they didn’t want to tarnish his reputation.

As humans we like to root for people, to champion people and  make heroes out of athletes, celebrities, and sometimes people in our communities like religious leaders, and it’s easy to get disillusioned and forget that they are all just people just like us.

I’m not angry with Lance, after all, he is just human, just a man who made some bad decisions along with some great ones including helping raise awareness and research for cancer. I just hope that he will come completely clean and allow us to get to know all of him without the hero facade.

This will require him taking personal responsibility for his past mistakes however, something that is difficult for people with a narcissistic personality to do. The world and I will be watching.

**edit: I wrote this post before I saw his interview with Oprah and walked away from that interview more convinced that Lance Armstrong is a narcissist. In the interview he often spoke in the third person, as if it wasn’t really him being interviewed. He often seemed rather cold, detached and guarded despite this being a “tell all” interview. He touched his face a lot, which is a form of body language known as “The Mouth Guard” which is a sign that someone is unsure if what they are saying is really the truth, or consciously or unconsciously they know that what they are saying is a lie. Maybe Lance wasn’t totally lying, but he was not being completely, totally honest. Still, I think the good his Livestrong foundation has done is much bigger than one person.

16 thoughts on “Lance Armstrong May Be A Narcissist, But We Made Him A Hero

  1. i think sometimes it must be the hardest thing to do….step down from the pedestal we the public put people on. i think you’re right. if it was about what his accomplishments and causes pointed you toward, then it is simply a man making poor choices and paying the consequences very publicly. if it was about hero worship than our disappointment becomes personal and the baby (or yellow bracelet) gets thrown out with the bathwater. i reckon. 🙂 –kris

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kris. I think too many people are throwing out the baby, or yellow bracelet as you put it 🙂 with the bath water. I am still rooting for Lance, but I hope that this will cause him to go through a much more introspective and personal journey where he can use this opportunity to grow and educate others from a much more authentic and genuine place.

  2. Unfortunately, individuals in society make a lot of sports figures into an image of a hero. Why?

    A true hero to me is one who does because he/she can, not for the fame, not for the recognition, but because of an honest desire to make a difference in society.

    Armstrong raised and brought money for cancer research and raised awareness-hopefully for the cause-the other side of him that lied……that is a reflection of him personally focusing on the fame and fortune only.

    Many celebrities raise awareness, donate their own money, provide their skills for humanitarian work and raise funds for research for a particular cause and that is amazing, but it must come from the heart and not for further fame or recognition. It must be true.

    Individuals need to really reflect and choose a hero wisely.

    1. I couldn’t have said it better myself. There’s a book by Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals called Heroes: What They Do & Why We Need Them, that I would be interested in reading at some point, but the truth like you said is that the real heroes are probably the ones that go less noticed and are definitely altruistic.

    1. I may have stretched that one a bit, but I was trying to make a comparison to when Hitler first came into power, promising a better life after the depression and the German people stood behind. This was before the dark side truly came out. As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that most people would say Hitler never started off good.

  3. My dad has NPD. I feel so terrible for all those people Lance Armstrong harassed, and all the future people he will harass and destroy. Because he will harass and destroy the rest of his life, he’s not done, he’s just moving on. Many people will learn this the hard way.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. It sounds like you have much more experience with NPD than I do. I have never met anyone who met the full criteria for NPD but have definitely met people with narcissistic traits so I can only imagine what growing up with your dad was like. If you ever want to share more about that I would love to hear it.

  4. Thank you for reading and liking my my post,”Finding joy.” Years ago I was a therapist working with troubled boys. Like your blog site very !

  5. Try looking up borderline personality disorder. Whatever illness Mr Armstrong had he has had it for a long long time. People don’t throw over their wives, (who was by his side during his cancer), and leave their newborn twins, lie continually to their supporters, and bully people who don’t cooperate, without a severe narcissistic/borderline disorder. He has treated everyone in his life with dishonesty, betrayal, lies , and brutality. He lied to his children! No excuse. He is probably incapable of changing as he is still incapable of understanding the depth of the collateral damage he has reeked.

    1. I can see your argument for BPD, but I think we both agree he has a personality disorder and they are some of the hardest problems to treat and change because the person with it generally don’t think they have a problem and the personality is probably the hardest aspect of a person to change. People with personality disorders usually don’t try to change until they have or are about to lose everything, and although it seems like Lance should be in that position now, judging from his interview, he still doesn’t get it so I agree with you, change is unlikely.

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