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Lance Armstrong: Classic Narcissist or Psychopath Maybe Both

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Lance Armstrong Interview w/Oprah

A media sandstorm was unleashed after Lance Armstrong did his tell all interview with Oprah on her cable network channel OWN this past Thursday night. The cloud of Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs during his seven Tour de France wins has loomed over the cyclist for almost 15 years. However, the allegations are now reality because Armstrong has finally admitted to doping in order to achieve his record wins.

Reporters, sports analysts, and former victims of Lance Armstrong have all used terms such as narcissist and/or psychopath to describe Armstrong’s behavior in conducting and protecting his doping scheme over the past decade. Lance Armstrong has built a reputation that has utilized tactics to literally destroy anyone both in character and financially who questioned, eluded, or reported any of his wrong doings. During  Armstrong’s  interview with Oprah, several videos were aired of Armstrong shaming and showing disdain for those who questioned his seven Tour de France wins.

We have seen this saga play out before with other high-profile athletes accused of using performance enhancing drugs to excel in their respective sport, but what makes this case different? The difference in this case is the manner in which Lance Armstrong went after his detractors. Armstrong and his team of lawyers destroyed anyone who dared to question his integrity. After all, Armstrong created the Livestrong Cancer Foundation in which he made sure the two could not be separated. Many have since stated that Armstrong used Livestrong as a shield because no one wanted to undermine the great work of the foundation. Is classic narcissist or psychopath a fair analysis of his past behavior and lack of remorse as described by many after watching the interview?

“He will give the impression that he is highly accomplished at anything and everything he does. He will always be right no matter what. Even if he is wrong, he will twist the truth so that he can assign blame to anyone or anything other than himself.” Lifescript. com How to Deal with Narcissistic Behavior

“Imagine – if you can – not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.” The Mask of Sanity

View the video clips of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah, and you decide.

Written by Deona Hooper, MSW


Deona Hooper, MSW is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Social Work Helper, and she has experience in nonprofit communications, tech development and social media consulting. Deona has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Management and Community Practice as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

206 posts

Yes, he did for a very long time. He was so convincing that I didn’t think he was doping until the very end. I am leaning toward psychopathic. His lack of remorse for the lives he destroyed in maintaining his lie is astonishing.

I remembered when this story came out … it was very surprising
Whether Lance Armstrong is a narcissist or psychopath?

I would say narcissist since it was all about him

Now it’s very insightful bringing up this, really love his acts as an individual

He pulled the wool over everyone for a very long time! I wold say that is narcissistic!

Well said and Lance IS a psychopath, in his case a malignant narcissist. I am so glad professionals are going on record about this. Psychopathy is a huge problem in society, especially since the psychopaths end to be very empowered. The person below said absolute power corrupts absolutely. That’s not quite right. It is those that are already corrupt, psychopathic, that seek absolute power and they have the guile and lack of consciousness to achieve it, destroying anything in their path.

Thank you for posting this, I missed the original interview. I am saddened to see the turn professional sports has taken to make a ‘win’ at all costs. I am not sure competition as much as commercialism is behind the drive to be the best. There must be some narcissistic traits associated with his decisions. I cannot imagine anyone with this much fame not having those traits with all the adoration heaped upon them. I would imagine it is much like politicians, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Yes, from a clinical standpoint, agree w/ you Deona! I guess it just boggles the mind to think someone who had the smarts to pull off the biggest sporting doping scheme of all time, does not recognize an opportunity when it presents it’s self, and ultimately, for that, we should all be thankful.

Great insights Marilyn. However, it really begs the question of his capacity to show compassion or remorse.

This was a classic case of someone needing to put their money where their mouth is, wow! Although,
admittedly, I watched MOST, but not ALL, of the interview. My observations told me that Lance Armstrong has a long, long, way to go if he hopes to recapture even some of his “human” fan base. His responses were delivered with little affect or emotion, and betrayed zero empathy for those “humans” that he trampled on heavily in order to get to “the top”.

Which begs the question, has the man lost so many endorsements that he can no longer even afford to hire a publicist or social media coach to help him do serious damage control here? Or, perhaps like so many psychopathic personalities, does he simply lack the “human” capacity for guilt, shame, sympathy.. even an once of humility detected..anyone?

Apparently, not enough self-awareness either, to recognize this most generous window of opportunity that Oprah so graciously lay before him. A one time chance to appeal to our own inner denials, short-comings, masked competitiveness, a shot at some level of redemption, albeit,”Forgiveness does not imply condoning or excusing” Lyubomirsky, Sonja, (Jan. 2008) The How of Happiness, Retrieved from

But in reality, WHEN will he ever again, have THAT much public attention? Never, and he blew it. As we have so often been quoted saying in the field of Social Work, it’s not about what you said, as much as it is about what you did NOT say Lance.