I didn't have a chance to see the Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong last night--nor will I tonight--but I'm very aware of it's prominence in the media and have heard bits and pieces about what he said. (Here's just one brief report...)

This morning I was shocked to read that he admitted, when asked about "cheating", that he "looked the word up in the dictionary" and didn't feel it applied. There were few other comments I found highly disturbing as well, not to mention the lack of apology or any sense that he feels he has done anything wrong.

Adolph Guggenbuhl-Craig, in his book "The Emptied Soul" defines a psychopath as someone who is (among other things) completely out of touch with Eros--that is, he is unable to feel (a certain kind of human) connection to others. This seems like such a significant topic to address here in the community. Wondering what you think?.....Does anyone have a diagnosis or thoughts on the underlying archetypes at work here?

Tags: armstrong, cheat, cheating, denial, disorder, doping, mental health, psychopath, sociopath

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HI Gloria. Interesting point about his ambition as his 'daemon'. I agree with you--and feel that due to the cancer survival, he's also possessed with a sense of entitlement--in the sense that he almost feels he earned the right to cheat since he overcame so much. I just a read a pretty good article that discusses the dissonance that surrounds him. You can read it here.

One thing that strikes me about the idea of the 'daemon' is that--a la James Hillman--the very thing we have to overcome most often ends up being a major strength in our life calling. One might argue that overcoming the cancer led to the establishment of the LiveStrong foundation to combat cancer and that is his legacy...but I'm wondering where psyche will take him now that he's finally admitted the doping and cheating. Questions: How would he be different today if 1) he never had cancer 2) he never doped for the sport 3) he admitted the doping far sooner...?

Hi everyone. I think Gloria's is such an astute insight--both about how all the moving parts are interconnected as well as the ease by which Lance fell prey to the inflation. First, it does seem clear that many, MANY other athletes have been getting away with (or not, as the case may be) doping for a long time and it's true, how can one have a chance to compete if don't cheat? It speaks to our society so strongly about the demand to achieve and excel.

I'm reminded of Dr. Glen Slater's theory about that cultural expectation (particularly American) in his article "Mythology of Bullets" on which I interviewed him for Depth Insights radio recently. He suggests that there is so little room in our culture for failure, losing, depression, etc. that we strive to "empower" ourselves in any way we can.

In his opinion, that's one reason certain individuals reach for a gun and shoot any obstacles in their way--much in the same way perhaps Lance has been "shooting up" (figuratively or literally) to overcome the obstacles in his way. Because we don't have a process in our culture that encourages reflection and holding when things go wrong, anyone who fails to succeed, simply can't compete and becomes marginalized, feeling they are a failure. Our media doesn't help this any since they focus so intensively when people fall, publicly shaming them...just as Lance has in this case.

Judie, you really pointed this out when you brought up the poles and speculated about how Lance was as a young man. It's unfortunate we don't have a better system to "tend" our children and adolescents into holding and being with failure as a natural part of life and not amplifying and idolizing this negative hero archetype.

Hi Bonnie, Gloria, and all. I appreciate Gloria's perspective and second the idea that Armstrong is possessed by the hero archetype--only rather than the positive archetypal aspects where the hero goes out to fight the monsters and returns with something of value to the community, he is possessed by the negative aspect where he is inflated by his desire to be like the gods. What a tragedy. One can only hope he can break the pattern and move forward...

Hi -

This is my first post on the forum, but I figure I'll just jump right in because I find the Lance Armstrong topic fascinating.

The way I look at it, cycling is a very Mercurial sport, the issue is very Mercurial (the lying -- or not -- and the issue of mortality coming up), and Lance himself is a very Mercurial guy.  Seems to me Mercury/Hermes is an essential archetypal figure to bring into the discussion, especially since Mercury is both amoral and a patron of sports.  At the end of the day, who really knows the truth?  When Mercury is behind things, don't we have to push beyond our own immediate sense of morality and right-and-wrong or else we overlook the deeper issues at hand?  Even people tuning in to Oprah were following Mercury's call of curiosity - wondering "what's he going to say?"

When it comes to the deeper issues, I'm struck by how disappointed people are by Lance, and how betrayed people feel.  I don't know if I sympathize that easily, because western culture is so drugged and doped at this point anyway, generally-speaking. Check out the lines at any pharmacy (or the profits from the whole pharmaceutical industry) to see that.  I'd even say that the lines at Caribou and Starbucks every morning, with people requiring caffeine to enhance their performance at work, is something to talk about.  "Doping" seems to be part of life.     

Also, in response to the general disappointment thrown at Lance, it's curious to me because people are inspired by lies (and liars) all the time.  We call it fiction.  When we know it's a lie at the outset, we can be incredibly inspired by books and made up things.  I'm reminded of when Oprah picked "A Million Little Pieces," the memoir by James Frey, as her book club choice, because it inspired her and inspired millions of other people.  Yet, when Oprah found out the memoir included a few "made up" bits, James Frey became a headline - for lying.  The James Frey situation reminds me of the Lance Armstrong situation, in how people were so inspired and moved by the book when they thought it was the truth, yet horribly disappointed to find bits of it were lies.

Mercury is behind both of these scenarios.  There's a trickster at hand!  It really makes me curious about how willing people are to think they know the what-you-see-is-what-you-get literal "truth" (and be so literally inspired by it) and then be so disappointed when they find out something else was going on.  Is the truth really that "literal" and one-sided?



Excellent points, Shane. I really appreciate you introducing the mercurial aspect into the conversation. This is a complex issue among many, but I sense that the public disappointment you mention is pervasive. I've just posted information about a complimentary 2-part teleseminar I'm conducting (with Olympic coach Hank Lange) to discuss the underlying patterns behind it all. I think you'll find it of interest. Check it out in the Events section when you have a moment.

Yes, indeed Lance is  mercurial. I feel the need to include the other half of the archetypal astrological dyad, that of Jupiter and/or Neptune, when drawing astrological/archetypal parallels. I've found that planetary opposites are almost always constellated for better and/or worse and have begun to consider them immediately. Jupiter in excessive dialogue  with Mercury/Hermes can point to excessive psychological inflation, while Neptune here brings to mind the potential  for unconsciousness/deception.   I wrote a day or so ago about how the Myth of Icarus   seemed also  to be a mythic image of psychological inflation resulting in destruction, and certainy fits  well with all we have speculated upon.  Sadly, it seems all of a piece to me!I've tried to also imagine who Lance was as a young man prior to all of this. Whether or not the reason for the cancer treatment escalated his behavior, or vice versa we will not ever really know.  Idols fall, and he carries well both poles of that experience.

Shane: Thanks for your comments as well. You're articulating exactly what I was trying to say when I mentioned that the media exacerbates our failures and shames people publicly. The James Frey "fiasco" is a good example, and the "fallen" journalist Jonah Lehrer is another: he is accused of self-plagierism and fabricating quotes from Bob Dylan among others.

I don't condone the lying, deceit, and cheating at all, of course, but you're absolutely right when you say the truth is not so one-sided. The fact that we live in a culture where we all can be viewed as doping or addicted to certain substances or activities that are not necessarily generative for us as individuals or as a culture--whether it be caffeine, prescription drugs, media, entertainment, or consumerism or something else--implicates all of us in buying into and enabling a culture that continues to guarantee that people will do whatever they have to to simply survive from a psychological standpoint at times.

By the way, I fixed the link to the article in the first post so it should work now (Thanks Gloria), and here's another from the L.A. Times that suggests we are all implicated when it comes to the lying: Like Lance Armstrong, we are all liars, experts say

By the way, I fixed the link to the article in the first post so it should work now, and here's another that focuses on the lying and cheating. 

Hi everyone. I've just posted my latest blog which is focused on the Lance Armstrong saga entitled "Patterns of the Fall: Lies, Lance and Life Patterns."

Perhaps some of you are feeling fatigued about the topic and wonder why we can't move on from a media and cultural standpoint. However, I would argue that there is something here for all of us to learn and the patterns in play behind this story affect us all.  Hope you'll take a moment to read it and comment if you can, either here on the Alliance on the blog post page or on my site at www.AssisiInstitute.com....

TONIGHT!--Hi everyone--Just a reminder--Don't miss the final free teleseminar, "When the Fairytale Ends: Lies, Lance & Life Patterns" as we continue to examine the archetypal patterns in play behind the Lance Armstrong story. (Thurs, 2/7/8-9pm PT)

Last week, I with Olympic Coach Hank Lange, discussed evidence on how pervasive doping has become within the sport & how the culture encourages cheating in order to get ahead. We also examined pathological patterns in Lance's behavior. This week, we'll dig more into the hero archetype and the psychodynamics of inflation...

Details & Online REGISTRATION FOR PT 2: http://www.assisiinstitute.com/upcoming-teleseminar-series.html
or email assisi@together.net, ph: 802-254-6220



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