Lance Armstrong’s recent admission of guilt regarding doping allegations is sad and disillusioning.

Unfortunately it seems many of our most revered heroes fall from grace. Last week I was stunned as I watched Mimi Alford speak of her sexual relationship with John Fitzgerald Kennedy when she was only 19. Who can forget John Edward’s secret life? Or Michael Vick’s dog fighting scandal? The list goes on and on.

According to Wikipedia “Hero (heroine is sometimes used for females) in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod. A demigod is the son or daughter from one immortal and one mortal parent. On the other hand, Wikipedia defines a role model as any “person who serves as an example, whose behavior is emulated by others”.

This merging together of heroes-demigods– and role models is common and problematic. We not only adore our heroes; we now long to be them. For example, there are rail thin models and actresses, now air brushed to un-human skeletal thinness. Their images flood the media. Young girls strive to emulate them as they see these “starlets” as their heroines and adopt them as role models. Of course, what they strive for is a hoax…super thinness is an unattainable goal that leaves many young women loathing their real bodies and sometimes starving to death. Worshipping the demi-gods and using them as role models sets us up for disappointment and failure. And in some cases, can be dangerous to our well being.

Unfortunately, we even mistake celebrities for heroes and role models; consider the popularity of reality TV stars like Snooki or the Kardashians or the Gosselins.

Yet, who could not help but get caught up in the Lance Armstrong story? A cancer survivor who wins the Tour de France- Seven Times! Having accomplished super human feats he did indeed appear to be a demigod and we felt inspired.

This is not to say that there are no great human beings who deserve the status of both hero and role model; this Monday we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. who stands as a shining example of both the heroic and attainable.

Perhaps the Lance Armstrong story offers us all a cautionary tale. We can admire from afar the feats, fame and fortune of our super heroes, but when we choose role models; it would serve us better to keep in mind that character is far more important.


“How a man plays the game shows something of his character, how he loses shows all of it.”


© 2013 Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Farmington, CT since 1986.She is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback.




  1. CJ Golden on the 20. Jan, 2013 remarked #

    Donna, you ask, “Who can forget John Edward’s secret life? Or Michael Vick’s dog fighting scandal?’
    Unfortunately too many of us do forget and these people become heroes once again.

  2. Annie on the 20. Jan, 2013 remarked #

    We are always looking for that someone to look up to. Unfortunately, the media has really glorified these “stars” to a point where they think they can get away with anything.

  3. Beth Shaw on the 21. Jan, 2013 remarked #


    I completely agree and how sad it is when I watch the media continue to put these people on pedestals and forget the many many real heroes in everyday life . The parents, the teachers, the nurses, the doctors, Hospice workers, our friend our loved ones, our family, our brothers, or sisters, our children are the real heroes!!!

    I am NOT naive to think that the newscasters would willing to risk losing their funding for advertising money advertising money by doing pieces on the regular people who do extraordinary things.

    I understand that sex sells, I understand that gossip sells, heartache, murder, blood, gore all of those things sell…..so hats off to you Donna, for reminding all of us that just because it’s for sale doesn’t mean we have to buy it!!!!

    Well done piece!

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