Much has been written about the two sides of Bernard Madoff - the successful Wall Street trader who had the ear of regulators vs. the man who confessed to a giant Ponzi scheme that allegedly lost $50 billion and ruined the lives of thousands of investors. Now there's a theory that Madoff has the personality characteristics of a psychopath.On Sunday, The New York Times delved into the personality of the man behind the black curtain. In an interesting feature, "The Talented Mr. Madoff," a former F.B.I. special agent who constructed criminal behavior profiles, said that the actions of Madoff are similar to those seen in psychopaths.
"Some of the characteristics you see in a psychopath are lying, manipulation, the ability to deceive, feelings of grandiosity and callousness toward their victims," says the former F.B.I. agent cited in the story. One of the inconsistencies that emerges in the story is that Madoff ran this familial business where he treated employees like family, but he is very controlling and paid attention to minute details. He walked around the New York trading floor and inspected the grey and black trading desks for "personal filth." In one scene that's recounted, he found an employee eating a pear at his desk and spilling pear juice, reportedly. Madoff ripped the carpet square out and replaced it with a fresh one.
On the other hand, the story interviewed several friends who grew up with Mr. Madoff in Laurelton, Queens and remember him in elementary school and performing musical skits. Joseph Kavanau, who attended law school with Madoff, remembers him as being "very industrious" since he had a side job installing sprinklers. But Kavanau, who married Ruth Madoff's best friend, but drifted apart from the Madoffs, can't reconcile the Madoff he knew in the 1960s with the man he's reading about and hearing about 24/7 on cable news.
"People like him become sort of like chameleons. They are very good at impression management. They manage the impression you receive of them. They know what people want, and they give it to them," says McCrary in the story.
A forensic psychologist, J. Reid Meloy, said Madoff's confidence reminds him of criminals he has studied who don't fear getting caught. Such criminals tend to have sense of grandeur, they're narcissistic and they have a strong sense of entitlement.
Since Madoff was able to fool the regulators for decades, that would have been a heady, intoxicating experience and would have fooled a sense of entitlement and grandiosity, " according to the former F.B.I. special agent. Madoff also would have wanted to keep the regulators close since they were a threat to him, and turn them into allies and shape how they do their business.
While Madoff inspired trust from his veteran employees -to the extent that they gave him their life savings, not because they wanted excessive returns, because they wanted security- their money has vanished with the ranks of Jewish charities, European banks and an international network of fund of funds.
While these analysts have never met Madoff, the former F.B.I. agent sees familiar patterns found in serial killers. In this case, Madoff played god, took peoples' money and ruined lives, he told The Times.One of the inconsistencies that emerges in the story is that Madoff ran this familial business where he treated employees like family, but he is very controlling and paid attention to minute details Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio