The narcissist craves admiration, of course. It serves as an antidote to the unconscious feelings of shame and unworthiness. Millions of adoring fans fed
Armstrong's need to believe that he was someone very special. Even more than a winner, he was becoming a hero to millions of people around the
world: cancer survivor, humanitarian, a model of bravery and perseverance. They praised and idealized him. Armstrong carefully cultivated this image. His
philanthropy has no doubt done genuine good, but in light of the recent revelations, you have to wonder how much the charity aspect mattered, and how much
he relied upon LiveStrong to bolster his public image and further the winning narrative.
When the narcissist feels his idealized self-image to be threatened, he may go on the attack to defend it. Hundreds of women have responded to the post on
my Web site about The Vindictive Narcissist, sharing their stories of ex-husbands who devoted great amounts of energy and money, often involving
protracted legal action, to destroy the reputations of former wives who left them. Revelations from the USADA's reasoned decision, along with the accounts
of former friends and teammates who were threatened, sued and driven from the sport by Armstrong tell a similar story. The narcissist experiences a
challenge to his or her self-image as a vicious attack and will respond in kind.
Armstrong vilified masseuse Emma O'Reilly for telling the truth about doping on the U.S. Postal Team, calling her an "alcoholic whore." After former Tour
de France winner Greg LeMond publicly expressed concern about Armstrong's association with Ferrari, Armstrong threatened to find ten people who would
testify that LeMond had used PEDs unless he apologized for his remarks. According to LeMond's wife, Armstrong also offered a $300,000 bribe to one of her
husband's former teammates if he would claim that he had seen LeMond use the oxygen-boosting drug EPO.
When Betsy Andreu cooperated with David Walsh on his first book, revealing that Armstrong had admitted using PEDs to his oncologist, he sued her for libel.
He has called her a "crazy bitch." He threatened to "destroy" Filippo Simeoni for cooperating with anti-doping officials. After Tyler Hamilton released his
book about doping in the world of professional cycling and began to cooperate with law enforcement, Armstrong accosted him in an Aspen restaurant: "When
you're on the witness stand, we are going to fucking tear you apart. You are going to look like a fucking idiot. I'm going to make your life a living ... fucking hell."
During the Oprah-Armstrong interview, he characterized such behavior as "controlling the message," going on the attack to protect his territory, but there
is no better way to describe it than vindictive and vengeful. One of the well-known features of the narcissist is a lack of empathy for the feelings of
others. Despite his on-air apologies, Armstrong seems to feel no real remorse for the hurt he inflicted on his friends and teammates. He has called himself
a jerk and an arrogant prick, but he doesn't seem able to understand how much pain he has caused, to imagine what it would feel like to be Emma O'Reilly or
Betsy Andreu, scorned in public by a powerful public figure, a hero to millions. The only thing that mattered was to destroy them.
Armstrong still hasn't acknowledged the truth of Betsy Andreu's claim that she heard him admit using PEDs to his oncologist; he continues to insist that he
had stopped doping when he returned to the Tour in 2009 and finished third. The man is engaged in damage control, saying whatever he believes necessary to
retrieve some part of his public image and the chance to compete again one day. He wants to salvage a portion of the Armstrong myth, his idealized false
self, and then begin to rebuild it.