Monday, 4th December 2023

Portrait of a sociopath

By Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo
09 March 2019   |   3:41 am
When inevitably the year 2019 fast forwards to the end – as it already seems to be doing, because, did I snooze after a heavy Christmas meal and wake up in March? – as newspapers and magazines compile, list and archive the high and low lights of another year in photos, one photo from March…

R Kelly. Photo credit: Complex

When inevitably the year 2019 fast forwards to the end – as it already seems to be doing, because, did I snooze after a heavy Christmas meal and wake up in March? – as newspapers and magazines compile, list and archive the high and low lights of another year in photos, one photo from March will stand out: the image of a spluttering, spewing, screaming black man on his feet, gesticulating, cutting a foreboding figure over a woman, sitting in her chair, calm, poised and unflinching. The scene perfectly framed by cinematic lighting.

The man in question, erstwhile R&B legend R Kelly, now charged last month in Chicago on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse relating to misconduct with four women, three of whom were underage at the time of their alleged assaults.

The woman CBS News host Gayle King.
Possibly years later, an entertainment commentator talking about this very interview in a talking heads show potentially titled “Most Shocking Celebrity Moments in the Early Millennium” will look straight into the camera, with a wry smile, say “R Kelly, you had one job…” and offer a shrug.

The interview with the embattled singer was one big car crash – or more aptly the crash and fall of a legend, so much so that we quickly began questioning the sanity of R Kelly’s team of lawyers in letting him go on air at all.

On Twitter, entertainment writer Laura Hudson summed up the scene with:
“The R Kelly interview is abuser 101: when threatened or even mildly challenged, respond by screaming, blaming, and escalating physically until you regain control. If this is how he treats a powerful woman on national television, imagine how he treats vulnerable girls in private.”

Writer and editor Elisa Doucette suggested that the “footage of R Kelly standing up to loom over Gayle King, while screaming at the top of his lungs at her, should probably be entered into evidence as Exhibit H of his treatment of and demeanour towards women during the trial.”

As the adage goes, a pictures speaks a thousand words. R Kelly didn’t hold back either; as he continued spewing outrage, real quick the portrait of a sociopath emerged.
“I have been assassinated. I have been buried alive. But I’m alive!”

This is the sign of a sociopath if you ever needed one. Blustering, blowing his top, outraged by accusations he takes as personal affront, forever playing the victim.

“It’s real girls out there missing! There’s real young girls out there being abducted, being raped, OK? They really are on chains. They really do have chains on their—on their wrists and they can’t get out and they end up buried and dead.”

When in doubt, deflect, deflect and deflect. That’s exactly what a sociopath does by changing the subject, turning the spotlight away from himself on to something inconsequential, sometimes even on the very person whose questions or accusations they’re trying to avoid, in a bid to gaslight.

“What kind of father, what kind of mother, will sell their daughter to a man? How come it was OK for me to see them until they weren’t getting no money from me?”
If defence and denial don’t work, go on the offence. That’s exactly what R Kelly did by blaming the parents of the girls he’s allegedly abused.

“You can start a rumour on a guy like me or a celebrity just like that. All you have to do is push a button on your phone and say so and so did this to me, R. Kelly did this to me, and if you get any traction from that, if you’re able to write a book from that, if you’re able to get a reality show… then any girl that I had a relationship in the past that it just didn’t work out, she can come and say the same exact thing.”

Extreme entitlement. Once again deflecting from the fact that he allegedly used his celebrity status to abuse young girls, he turns the tables on his victims to claim his fame made him the victim. Claiming everyone is out to get him, or get a book deal out of him is the sign of the highest form of delusion of grandeur and entitlement.

Behavioral analysis expert Dr. Lillian Glass who analysed R. Kelly’s verbal and non-verbal communication for Okayplayer concludes, “Somebody that doesn’t take responsibility; that blames. It’s not like you say, “Well, this never happened.” He’s blaming other people for his transgression. That’s one of the symptoms.

This is not just somebody who is accused. He’s been entitled for so long— to get away with all of his transgressions and now it’s the real deal. He’s gotten away with this behavior for a long time. And it’s caught up with him, and that’s why he reacts. There’s a lot of anger. And now he’s scared to death, so he’s trying to elicit sympathy, which is another sociopathic behavior. Blaming and trying to manipulate.”

While admitting R Kelly of course isn’t a serial killer, she also draws parallels between his defence in this interview and serial killer Aileen Wuornos who was accusing the police and said the police were watching her and they allowed her to kill these men that she killed and says it is that same mentality, that same blaming others for transgressions.

“I need somebody to help me not to have a big heart.”

A big ego, yes. A big heart that keeps getting betrayed as R Kelly blames.

Keep watching, ladies and gents, this is only the beginning of the sociopath’s defences crashing.

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