''Inadvertently, you send mixed signals to people,'' he told Good Housekeeping magazine. "You learn that other people, in the outside world, didn't live in the same context as you. I see this as President. I don't believe in psychobabble ... but I think I have to be acutely aware that I grew up as a peace-maker, always trying to minimise the disruption. When you are President and go the extra mile, others will interpret it as weakness.
"In Haiti, I pretty much had to invade the country because people didn't believe me. When I finally had the planes in the air, they believed me and got out of there. That's happened all my life, from the time I was in school. People underestimate your resolve because you go out of your way to accommodate them before you drop the hammer."
As a child, Mr Clinton said, ''I was deprived of a male role model. I grew up with this idealised version of my own father who died before I was born.'' His alcoholic and threatening stepfather, he said, was ''full of self-loathing and anxiety''.
Mr Clinton's early years also affected his belief in his ability to have a successful marriage. "I wanted it desperately, but I did not know if I could do it ... if your model of a marriage has been bad, it has a subconscious drag on you.''