Negative attention is better than no attention, and 'Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli is hardly short on it. But a psychologist with Yahoo Health cautioned that while his flagrant narcissism has made him a household name, it could also be his undoing.
Karla Ivankovich, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Springfield, said the bratty, overly-confident attitude displayed by Shkreli has only generated publicity for himself and his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals -- even though it's bad.
"[N]egative attention is better than no attention at all," she told Yahoo. "You cannot negate the value of negative attention."
Ivankovich told Yahoo that Shkreli, 32, displays narcissistic tendencies and "little desire for a filter." Instead of acknowledging that it was wrong to jack up the price of a life-saving drug used to treat cancer and AIDS patients, Shkreli said he should have explained the rationale better instead of acting like a "flippant jackass."
It may explain why Shkreli brazenly continues to make what may look like faux pas on the surface. This week, Shkreli took to Reddit for an "Ask Me Anything" session that seemed not to go his way, especially when a Reddit user claiming to be a physician challenged him.
"No one’s been able to tell me what your upgrade is or how it works or even if it is a cost saving upgrade," the physician had said, regarding Shkreli's now infamous decision to raise the price of a life-saving drugs used in AIDS therapy overnight from $13.50 per pill to $750 -- a whopping 5,000% increase.
Shkreli's Twitter feed is a study in pompousness.
High self-confidence can help people succeed in business, when they need to garner supporter and charm executives, she told the online news site. Especially now, when young people are running multi-million dollar companies.
“It’s typical of this generation, especially rising men — they’re very shrewd in business,” she told Yahoo. “There are currently very young individuals running very successful companies. In the past, it might have taken a man until his 50s or 60s to rise to this level. But millennials are less humanistic and more driven by the moneymaking potential.”
But it only goes so far. Shkreli's narcissism could easily get away from him and cost him sooner or later, because it isn't a substitute for substance.
“You have to make people believe in what you’re doing as you build a business,” she told Yahoo Health. “But narcissism can also start to negatively affect other aspects of life, like friends and home life."
It seems unlikely Shkreli is convincing anyone to believe in him doing anything other than becoming attention seeking and notorious.
Last week, San Diego-based company Imprimis Pharmaceuticals announced they'd be selling a generic version of Shkreli's price-gouged drug for $1 a pill.