Inside The Mind Of Madoff

With Bernard Madoff likely in jail for the rest of his life, many are now asking why he would commit such a crime? What makes a man, who had the opportunity to do right, do wrong?

Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist who has consulted on some of the most high profile criminal cases in America, did a little case study of Madoff for Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Referring to the statement Madoff read in court, in which he apologized, Smith asked, "Is he sorry for what he did or sorry that he got caught?"

"Well, think about the mastermind that sets something like this up, and imagine someone, who comes into court and says 'I tried to stop it, but I couldn't.' If you have the sophistication to scheme it, you have the sophistication to shut it down," Welner said. "And with eight S.E.C. investigations in 16 years, we're sitting here today because the financial system changed, and he couldn't do it anymore. Not because he tried to shut it down and not because he's sorry and not for any of those reasons.

"At this point, Madoff is as calculated as he has been all of these years," Welner continued. "Only now he's calculated about the operation and concealing what he continues to have to keep at arm's length from prosecutors, investigators. 'Where's the money? Who was involved? What really happened?' Billions of dollars away. You can't condense this into a few pages of a confession, the elaborate nature of this scheme."

"He's no less calculating this morning, even in the correctional institution down in lower Manhattan, than he has been for the last 25 years because he said 'I'm guilty for all of this stuff.' He's protecting something," Smith said.

"Well, of course. You know, it reminds me of the whole Hugh Grant thing, of 'So sorry.' You know, you curtsy and then it goes away. Well, $65 billion later, it's a far more complicated scheme. We have to be realistic about what we expect from him. This is a legal proceeding and he's going through the motions," Welner said.

"People have used the term 'sociopath.' Do you think that applies in this case?" Smith asked.

"I don't think that's reasonable. This is a successful family man. This is a successful businessman. He's a selfish crook, who's greedy. The problem that we have is that we have huge quantities of money that are being stolen from our country at a time when our country can't afford it. People are taken advantage of, and it has nothing to do with sociopathy and everything that has to do with someone, not only feeling greedy, but thinking that money is impersonal and it's just paper and they don't see the human component of whom they're ruining," Welner said.


For information on Welner's "depratvity scale," click here.