Len Brown won’t quit, neither will Rob Ford. In both case both men have acted in an appalling fashion.
In Brown’s case he is getting off scot-free with a weak and compliant media. Rob Ford is more dogged in the face of an incredulous and questioning media. The two examples are similar and yet contrasting.
Both cases though highlight extreme narcissism and bullying behaviour.
InÂ an earlier article forÂ The Atlantic, I discussed the psychology of narcissism through a profile of Lance Armstrong, highlighting a similar winner-loser dynamic inherent in narcissistic relations. âThe narcissist lives in a world populated by two classes of people, the winners and the losers. His constant aim in life is to prove he’s a winner and to triumph over the losers.â I describedÂ narcissistic winning as a psychological strategyÂ for off-loading unconscious shame, a heavily repressed sense of internal inferiority:Â Youâre the loser, not me. The narcissist therefore needs and depends upon identified losers in order to carry his shame, thereby shoring up his defensive sense of self.Â
Bullies and narcissists thus follow similar psychological strategies for building and defending their identities. In fact, rather than viewing them as distinct psychological entities, it makes more sense to see their interconnection: All bullies are narcissists, with an inflated sense of self-importance and a marked lack of empathy for their victimsâ suffering, while many narcissists turn out to be powerful bullies. In defending his winner-status against detractors, for example, Lance Armstrong made extensive use of the legal system and his access to media in order to bully and intimate anyone who challenged him.
In particular, he tried to destroy their reputations. He referred to former soigneur Emma OâReilly as a âwhoreâ and an âalcoholicâ in public statements after she admitted witnessing his use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. On more than one occasion, he has publically referred to Betsy Andreu, wife of former teammate Frankie Andreu, as a âcrazy bitchâ; her mistake was admitting sheâd overheard Armstrong tell his oncologist that he had used a long-list of PEDs. To shore up his winner status, Armstrong wanted to make his detractors appear like contemptible losers; he tried to turn public opinion against them, enlisting the support of his many fans.
Borwn did this when confronted…throwing his mistress to the hungry wolves of the media, same with the messenger. More of that is likely to play out this weekend, and it is all designed to continue to bully and smear the messenger.
This of course also sounds like someone else who acts in this way…using courts, and government authorities to bully people who wish to tell the truth about him into silence. There are many people in the business world who are the same. They think they have a reputation beyond reproach when in fact they are nothing more than narcissistic psychopaths intent on playing with their victims.