Can People Have Different Personalities?

Stanton Peele By: Dr. Stanton Peele

Posted on November 7th, 2011 - Last updated: January 30th, 2014
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People sometimes seem to act differently in different situations

Herman Cain’s wife, a lovely, appealing woman, has declared that the accusations of sexual harassment and assault against her husband are impossible: “I know that’s not the person he is. He totally respects women.”  Since Gloria Cain has been married to her husband for 43 years, she’s certainly in a position to know what the man is like!  And, according to Mrs. Cain, “He would have to have a split personality to do the things that were said.”  Herman Cain certainly doesn’t have a split personality — does he?

Chris Matthews, MSNBC’s host of Hardball, has written a book entitled, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.  “How so elusive?” we might ask.  To start, Matthews portrays Kennedy as having been an isolated, lonely boy due to chronic illness.  That’s certainly not how we think of the president and war hero worshipped by millions, who had repeated affairs with Marilyn Monroe among many other women, and who was feted by the intelligentsia, Hollywood, and politicians alike.

Wait a second — let’s dial back there.  Did I say JFK had frequent sexual liaisons?  Yes he did.  And his long-time friend notified Jacqueline on the eve of their wedding not to expect him to change that.  Oh, which best friend?  That was Lem Billings, a gay man Kennedy met in prep school who lived in the White House with the presidential couple.

Amazed yet?  But here’s the bottom line.  Matthews feels that JFK and Jacqueline had a remarkable, successful, sharing marriage where Jack deeply respected his wife and she contributed to and supported him professionally and emotionally in an almost ideal relationship.

Oh, did I mention that when Jackie had a miscarriage, Jack declined to return from Europe, where he was catting around with a group of friends, to be with his wife?  He was simply having too much fun to go to his wife’s side.

That Chris Matthews could include all of this complexity in one book suggests he has a very subtle intelligence that allows him to reflect on the many contradictions one man might contain.

But I saw a different side of Chris Matthews when he interviewed an historian who wrote about Lyndon Johnson’s assumption of the presidency after JFK was assassinated.  Matthews had spoken of the incredible strength Johnson showed in the aftermath of the assassination, including being photographed taking the oath of office with a shell-shocked Jacqueline at his side.

But this historian noted that the plane carrying Jacqueline and Johnson back to Washington was delayed because, unknown to Jacqueline and the others . . . well, here, let me allow Steven Gillon, author of The Kennedy Assassination — 24 Hours After, to describe what he found out from General Godfrey McHugh, President Kennedy’s military aide on the Dallas trip,

“I walked in the toilet, in the powder room, and there he was hiding, with the curtain closed,” McHugh recalled. He claimed that LBJ was crying, “They’re going to get us all. It’s a plot. It’s a plot. It’s going to get us all.” According to the General, Johnson “was hysterical, sitting down on the john there alone in this thing.”

Matthews was completely disbelieving of this claim, and pilloried the hapless historian, saying that this was impossible to imagine coming from the man who stood strong and firm, comforting the distraught Jacqueline at the same time as he took over the reins of the country.

Indeed, the same man cannot be an abject coward and hysterical wreck one moment, and a pillar of strength the next — can he?  To believe that strains our credulity.

So Herman Cain could not possibly be respectful to women in his wife’s presence and stick his hands up their dresses when he’s away from her.

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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