McCann Trials: Narcissism v. Nuance

Kate and Gerry McCann (AP)

In two days, the judge presiding over the McCann’s £1 million libel lawsuit in Lisbon, against the former Portuguese detective, Gioncarlo Amaral, will receive the final statements and arguments for the case. Kate and Gerry McCann launched a legal action against Amaral, his publisher, and the makers of a documentary based on his book, ‘The Truth of the Lie,’ last year.

Like most people, I could not fail to be aware of the dreadful circumstances of the disappearance of tiny Madeleine McCann from the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007, and the massive media interest and coverage following the event. Her parents, however, did not really show up on my radar until I was exploring the nature of malignant narcissism for the purposes of my latest novel, ‘The Life Coach Less Travelled.’ It seems that many people, including prominent ones, believe that Kate and Gerry McCann are narcissistic, but any impersonal assessment , to my mind, has been clouded by the media monster machine which, ironically, the McCanns themselves set in motion at the outset, and which on occasions has come back to bite them.

Who are the Narcissists?

I would say that, depending on which way you are pre-disposed, there are a number of key players in this sad story who may be said to display the characteristics of the narcissistic personality. If we consider an unwillingness to accept responsibility, grandiosity, the concealment of motives/actions with lies, the desire to appear good in the eyes of others, exploitation by any means to serve own ends, scapegoating, litigiousness and a sense of being above anything higher, such as the law, then there are enough examples in the conduct of Gioncarlo Amaral as well as the McCanns and their close allies which might be construed as narcissistic.

But what about the media? Couldn’t the overblown, false and ruthless reporting by some elements of the media justify accusations of corporate if not personal narcissism? The Leveson Report on the inquiry in November 2012, which reviewed the general culture and ethics of the Press stated that “The search for the truth was the first principle to be sacrificed” in the Madeleine McCann case.

The Facts: Tragedy and Truth

There can only be two meaningful facts to this case. The first is the Tragedy, of which we are all too aware. The second is the Truth, which we do not have. Truth is the nemesis of the narcissist, the only means to end the armchair journalism and judgements in this affair and the antidote to harmful speculation. I hope, sooner rather than later, for Madeleine’s and all our sakes, it will triumph.

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