© Arnold Holtzman, Ph.D. (March 2002)
Ken Lay
Kenneth Lay


Kenneth Lay was the chairman and CEO of Enron Corporation. Attributed to him was the sudden and stunning collapse of Enron, one of the very largest and most aggressive of American businesses. Concerned with the global trading of energy resources it touched the lives of millions and epitomized everything successful in corporate America.

Lay resigned his positions a day before he was called upon to appear before two congressional committees set up to investigate the corporation's downfall.


Enron was an aggressive, ambitious, high-flying energy company that sought to transform itself into the world's foremost energy trader. At one time it was, on the basis of its stock market value, the seventh largest company in the United States. The politically connected Kenneth Lay was the chairman of the company at this time. He is acknowledged as being the central architect in Enron's meteoric expansion in influence and access to energy resources. His marketing strategies were described as being singularly innovative. The company's share price, however, collapsed with shocking suddenness when it emerged that the company had been concealing enormous losses by setting up offshore shell companies. Many of the company's directors became enormously wealthy when they cashed in their stock options on the company's high share price. Unfortunately the thousands of employees who had invested all of their pension funds on the same Enron stock lost everything. Notwithstanding his close association with US presidents and ranking members in both houses of parliament, Kenneth Lay was subsequently disgraced in his appearances before the investigating congressional committees.


Sources of Information:

The Pronounced Width of the Palm

s a rule palms tend to be somewhat longer than wider, and unless the disparity between the length and width is particularly pronounced this feature has no critical significance in the design of an individual's personality. The same, however, cannot be said when, as in the instance of Kenneth Lay, the palm's width appears somewhat to exceed its length. To understand the contribution of this construction we should visualize this area of the palm as the source of one's core identity. These would be the very fundamental references a person would have to himself (or herself). In principle, the heavier the development of the thenar and hypothenar eminences (the Mounts of Venus and Moon respectively) the more profound would these references be, and the more would the individual be committed to giving them their true expression. The person would have/should have a true sense of being... a sense of being which would largely be defined by the demanding needs and drives singular to his, or her, very rich biological chemistries.

With Kenneth Lay we come upon palms where not only is their development in this regard very discernable, but note, in addition, the widths of his palms. This would have us understand that his commitment to his core identity becomes so heightened and so pronounced as to effectively insulate him from any perspectives, or frames of reference, which may originate with sources external to himself. This is just another way of saying that he can listen only to his own mind and respond only to his own impulses. It would not be entirely incorrect to translate this as a propensity for egoism and sometimes downright selfishness. The values, needs, and interests of others would hardly ever be permitted to overtake his own.

Wide hands point as well to a very physical energy dimension. The emphasis would be on a capacity (hence need) for sustained strenuous labor. Long hours of focused labors of this order seem the natural lifestyle of the bearers of such hands. We would stop short, however, of describing these people as compulsive workaholics. If these people do identify with a common ambition it would seem to be "to get things done". Their drive to translate will into effect sets them at a distance from those who tend to procrastinate. They will have no patience for those who are inclined to deliberate at length about the things they should be doing and the decisions they should be effecting.

The "C" Shaped Little Finger

On the PDC Profiles page (entry #8) the reader will find Fragmentation in Narcissistic Disorders. The material on this page is devoted, in the main, to hidden syndromes - critical constructions in personality which are either entirely unknown in professional literature, or, as in this case, constructions identified in the literature but whose etiology and manifest expressions carry beyond what had hitherto been defined. Here, in effect, is the heart of Psychodiagnostic Chirology and what distinguishes it from every other mode and manner of diagnostic discipline. This is the material which we reserve for the courses we offer in PDC, and which are open to clinicians in the behavioral sciences.

The paragraph accompanying the relevant thumbnail photo on this page reads as follows:
Fragmentation of the infant's nuclear self is probably the single most important causal agent of narcissistic disorders. This article explains how fragmentation of the self is effected and how it contributes to the designs of the individual's interests, attitudes and general behavior. The link between fragmentation and narcissistic disorders originates with Heinz Kohut's Self Psychology but this article extends the implications of fragmentation of the self to explain (a) regression to the autoerotic focus on the body, (b) anger/rage/shame/guilt, (c) apartness in sexual intimacy, and (d) acts of rape.

What the "C" shaped structure of the little finger represents in Kenneth Lay's hand is a history of Fragmentation and the strong narcissistic currents in his personality which extend from this history. Having said this, it is important to note that a history which includes the trauma of fragmentation, more often then not, promotes a development in personality not far removed from the opposite extreme... this would be the capacity to sacrifice oneself for others much in the vein of Mother Theresa. However, the general morphology and constitution of Kenneth Lay's hand, in particular the factor of its width and the strongly curved index finger, but also the waist formations in the middle phalanges of all the fingers, promise that Mother Theresa is not likely to be this man's model.

The Strongly Curved Index Finger

We would note the very pronounced curvature in the construction of Kenneth Lay's index finger. This finger gives marvelous representation to the psychical dimension in personality we know as the Persona. Considering that the Persona largely defines the quality and temper of the individual's interaction with his, or her, social dimension, any deviation from the norm in the construction of this finger (a straight and symmetrically balanced finger) would have to be significant.

Very often when difficult constructions describe this finger we may grasp something of the experiences this person had recorded with the father, or surrogate father, or with whomever had been the significant other at the time when this person was beginning to visualize his, or her, life in a social dimension. A strongly curved index finger suggests that Kenneth Lay's early experiences with this dominant image were uncertain and stressful. There would have been something rather hard and immature about the father's emotional circumstances. In contradiction to what may have been perceived at the surface level of Kenneth Lay's life - his style and manner, this would have invested a degree of tension and lack of fluidity in his interpersonal relations. He would never have felt himself entirely a natural quantity in the mainstream of these relations, and everything would have been grasped as a challenge or battle of one order or another.

Otherwise, an index finger so constructed suggests that the person would not be inclined to postpone the satisfying of his, or her, immediate needs and wishes. "Now" become a central reference to everything related to these needs and wishes and would invest them with a certain urgency. This, we may appreciate, is very much a child's habit.

The Waist Formations at the Middle Phalanges of the Fingers

This feature relates, globally, to problems of belonging. Seen on the little finger we would think in terms of an identification with a low ceiling of possibilities with regard to the experience of maternal belonging. On the index finger we would think of a less than fluid interaction with those in one's natural social environment. It frequently describes the middle phalange of the ring finger, and here we would think of a tenuous identification with one's life expressions. We would think in terms of no self-actualization, and no true sense of self-fulfillment. Seen on the middle phalange of the middle finger we would have to apply the question of belonging to the entire system of Self.

At the same time we have to think in terms of degrees of severity. These same features appearing on thin fingers considerably heightens their severity. The fingers of Kenneth Lay, however, tend to thickness and this always relates, in one way or another, to strength... more specifically, to an identification with strength. What this means in this specific instance is that the manifest expression of these waists here would be less a surrender to the possible difficulties we had noted and more an aggressive defense geared to compensate for these difficulties. We would expect, therefore, to find the center of gravity, as it were, in Kenneth Lay's personality shift from the vulnerable emotional plane to a more secure, calculating and intellectual plane. This cerebral discipline would demonstrate a certain rigidity and compulsiveness.

Inner Conflict

In complete contradiction to the temper of all that has been offered up to this point we find the generous depth and curvature of the upper transverse line (the Line of Heart). This normally bespeaks a marvelous range of emotional expressions, genuine emotional responsiveness, and a refined emotional intuitiveness. As a critical feature in Kenneth Lay's hand it is a very real quantity in the comprehensive program that is his personality. More than a considered potential, this feature, in effect, describes Kenneth Lay's true commitment to himself. Yet, if we consider the weight of all the aforementioned, it would be a commitment to himself that he would prefer to deny. It is a feature that would have him succumb to emotional vulnerability and he would demonstrate little tolerance for such an eventuality. In this context it would be fair to speak of an inner conflict situation that may well undermine the fluidity of Kenneth Lay's communication with himself.



The photograph of Kenneth Lay is the kind contribution of listmember Brad Fietsam.

© All rights reserved.

Permission to reprint and distribute this, or any other article which appears
on this website, in whole or in part, must be granted in writing by the author.
Please write to: articles@pdc.co.il or articles@pdcpsyche.net

Click the BACK button on the toolbar to return to the "Download Now" list, or...