Dennis Rodman, who ranted about the supposed decency of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un during an interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN, is a man who can’t be expected to accurately judge the character of a leader or a nation because he seems to like whatever makes him feel good.
It’s probably that simple.
It is probably very easy for Rodman to conclude that American citizen Kenneth Bae, who was arrested in North Korea for hostile acts, then sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp, deserved what he got.
Why? Bae isn’t the one throwing lavish parties for Rodman that make Rodman feel good. Kim Jong Un is.
Bae isn’t the one procuring sexual partners for Rodman that make him feel good; Kim Jong Un is.
Bae isn’t the one paying Rodman a lot of money that makes him feel good; Kim Jong Un is.
Rodman has reportedly had trouble with alcohol in the past. Some have said he was alcohol dependent. That’s because alcohol made him feel good.
Rodman has driven drunk and driven without a license, despite laws that prohibit both. Why? He wanted to drive those times. Driving when he wanted to, despite the risk to the lives of others, made him feel good.
Rodman didn’t like all the attention Celtics player Larry Bird received while the two men were playing. That made him feel bad. So he claimed that Bird only got attention because he was white.
During his professional basketball career, Rodman wasn’t content to be a team player who wore team colors. He needed to dye his hair bizarrely, pierce himself dramatically and dress outlandishly. Why? Because the attention made him feel good.
In 2005, Rodman was hired to arrive in Vatican City during voting in the papal convlave and promote an Irish Gambling company that was purportedly taking bets on who the new Pope would be. That payday and that attention felt good. And that’s all that mattered.
If you want to be Dennis Rodman’s friend, it’s okay if you’re a a thug and killer like Kim Jong Un, who may have recently fed his uncle to starving dogs, as long as you make Rodman feel he’s at center court, standing tall, like a king.
In matters of the mind, of course, many things are fueled by their opposites. Deep down inside, Dennis Rodman probably doesn’t feel good at all. That’s likely the reason he turned to alcohol for false comfort in the past, had no contact with his mother for several years and contemplated taking his own life by shooting himself in the head.
See, neither cheering crowds, nor beautiful women, nor lots of money can erase the pain of feeling unloved or unlovable—not forever. And when you turn to a notorious murderer to pump you up by calling you his buddy, you’re telling the world (and this psychiatrist) all it really needs to know about you.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.