Clinton delves into 'dysfunctional' influences

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The Independent Online
Washington (AP) - In what aides called perhaps the most personal and frank interview that Bill Clinton has given since becoming President, he discussed growing up "in a dysfunctional home'' and the effect his upbringing has on him today.

''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.''