What makes them tick… The aaa Psychological Profile

by Don McMahon

As you may already know (if you have been paying attention) that before I retired, I was a counseling psychologist for almost 41 years and so I have an ongoing interest and fascination with the endless monologues generated by the people Tony & Walter have dubbed the AAA or AAAA on Untold.

Therefore I felt it behoved me to try and assess and profile the mental and emotional composition of these disparate characters who seem to infest the UA blog after any AFC reversal of fortune or sometimes even successes.

Blacksheep’s  excellent review of the Arsenal hater in row or seat 9 during the Newcastle game has only served to exacerbate this desire to shine an analytical light on creatures such as this poor chap.

There is one issue I have with Untold’s pigeon-holing of this heterogeneous group of moaners, whiners, pessimists and destructive complainers. It is our tendency to capitalize their AAA abbreviation. I would rather we kept their title in lower case, as it seems to me more suitable for this form of address and avoids giving them any significance in the long run….but that is up to Tony & Walter to decide.  [Always willing to be ahead of the game Don – aaa it is from now on.  Tony.]

Generally most mental health professionals will assess someone using testing instruments such as psychological or psycho-social standardized assessments, accompanied by interviews, past and present clinical history and anecdotal reports such as health records and academic and/or performance reviews (among others) as a means of ensuring that one avoids an interpretation bias which may arise when we look only at one data set.

Therefore, since we don’t have access to any of the above information about the aaa, I will have to rely on my experience and knowledge obtained over 42 years of personality evaluations and the current research that deals with people displaying these behaviours. In order to keep this as simple as possible, I will refrain from using clinical terminology whenever possible but will resort to pop psychology lingo….which is by its very nature easier to understand.

There are four major criteria used in assessing an individual or group’s equilibrium and competence in one or many performance areas. The first and principle one is the type of personality displayed. In the case of most of the aaa on the web today, the term passive-aggressive seems to fit. The DSM 1V* describes this disorder as a “pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situations”.
The other typical marker seen in this group is an overwhelming negativism and pessimism which translates into severe destructive criticism and persistent demeaning of the object of their supposed affections. Psychologists have identified this behaviour as potentially demonstrating a depressive personality disorder. The DPD individual shows dejection, gloominess, cheerlessness, joylessness, unhappiness, often blaming others, brooding negativism, judging others, and pessimism.

The next criterion is the arena of interests and motivation. The aaa protagonist is highly motivated to diminish any achievements his object of passion (AFC) may enjoy all the while actively and remorselessly attacking others who seek to offer a balanced view. This person (s) claims to be a ¨supporter¨ who sees things clearly and lucidly but is in actual fact, a bitter and unrequited foe of anyone or anything he or she deems beneath their lofty expectations for the Arsenal (ie: Wenger, the deadwood, Gazidis, etc.).

The next criteria is the realm of knowledge. This facet of the complex aaa personality depends on its survival through presenting and flourishing ¨facts¨ which on closer examination are proven not only to be patently false but often rather unimaginative regurgitations of others myths (often media tripe or cut and paste copies from other websites). Examples are: AFC’s highest ticket prices, Wenger’s stubbornness, etc.

Finally we have the element of concrete skills and abilities. What stands out here is that the typical aaa denizen claims excessive prowess and insight into the functioning of the Club and its community without any proof that they actually have experience in that area. The transfer sagas so fondly attacked by the aaa demonstrate, among other issues, that their belief system is founded on a total lack of experience and expertise but rather well grounded in the mythology and time-honoured skill of illogical and narcissistic irrationality. A sure sign of this imbalance is their oft repeated meme; ¨Everyone knows this is the case……¨

I could go on for hours but essentially the point of this article is that the aaa are complex, often troubled and always contradictory people who say one thing but do another. They are pathologically driven to rub salt in the wounds of their fellow Gooners and to transfer their sorry view of the Arsenal onto anyone who resists their worldview. If others on UA can add to or elucidate the aforementioned aaa characteristics, please feel free to add your two cents worth.
* The DSM revision revision1V ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is the usual manual used by mental health professionals when defining possible disorders and illnesses uncovered in the diagnostic process.

Untold: the index

36 Replies to “What makes them tick… The aaa Psychological Profile”

  1. Don thanks a lot ! Both my mom and my sister are psychologists so I got to hear a lot of the lingo at home …

    I only got the passive-aggressive bit, which makes a lot of sense to me. But the other 3 elements: motivation/knowledge/skills – are they connected to the psychological profile of the typical aaa person ? Are you suggesting that the typical aaa is less knowlegable, has other motivations? I just didn’t get that bit.

    And what interests me is, what, in your opinion, does the aaa person get (or perceives to get) out of his aaa behaviour?

    Thanks in advance,


  2. I sometimes think we give too much attention to the anti Arsenal brigade.

    From what you say about yourself Don I think when you were a young person supporting Arsenal when the only available social media where you could express your view point was the terraces.

    The appraisal of what you saw on the pitch and response was instantly given and for the most part forgotten and not heard elsewhere.

    Very few fans then as now gave serious thought to what they saw. I would include myself here. I believed the mantra that ‘bad decisions even out.’

    It was seeing nothing given by the ref when a Leeds player socked our goalie on the jaw that made me think that perhaps there was something wrong in the way games were refereed. That incident gave me doubts about the mantra and I began to give more thought to what I saw game after game.

    To day the terraces have lost their importance as a social media. (Except when the media want support for their lies.) In its place we have the internet, where anyone can express their view point to a mass audience.

    In other words the trivialities of the terraces have been replaced by the trivialities of the internet and as well you know not just in football.

    The advantage of the internet is that there is space for expression a thoughtful opinion and expressing the truth. On the terraces this was not and I think is not possible.

    On Tuesday night BBC Radio 5’s football spot carried a look into the reasons for ‘Crippled Arsenal’. The message was clear from the first sentence it’s Arsenal’s fault the club has so many injuries or rather it is Arsene’s fault.

    The opening point was a lie and having hit rock bottom on the first sentence the program began digging.

    However it all sounded plausible but then lies always are plausible.

    The one difference from the terraces only social media is that today’s social media provides the ignorant or the ‘message minded’ a wider audience of gullible fans who don’t think for themselves.

    But for the internet I think we would no very little about the ‘aaa’.

  3. Its all very clever, taking the time to analyse and use all these fancy words. Can you also take time and analyze our teams physiological issues. I thing that will be much more useful and of more importance.

  4. Thanks Don.

    “Men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals.”
    Isaiah Berlin

    “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.”
    George Best

    “The game is about glory, doing things in style”
    Danny Blanchflower

    “My first journey into real life was the discovery of football.”
    Gabriel Garcia Marquez,

    “Football has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disegard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.”
    George Orwell (I guess he was a cynic :)! )

    “Love is good for footballers, as long as it is not at half-time.”
    Richard Moller Nielsen

    “Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”
    Brecht Bertolt

    “I believe the target of anything in life should be to do it so well that it becomes an art.”
    A Wenger

    – –

    The spectacle on these pages yesterday of someone who should know better pretending, that private physiotherapists do not have a big role in the game and within that industry today, that players who are not bound or in peonage to their agents/owners are responsible for responsible for choosing their own physiotherapy and rehab. process’ as seen with the Walcott Falcao comparisonas and as seen at Utd last season with both RVP and Rooney, that these employed and practising *coughs* physiotherapists working with the best players are not at the top of their game was indeed remarkable! Very strange behaviour.

  5. May I wish all the Untold regulars, and Arsenal supporters worldwide, an enjoyable festive season and Happy New Year!

    My seasonal wish is that we can all come together to truly SUPPORT our club – in both good times and bad.

  6. Some much time and effort is used writing about the AAA , they annoy you so much why not just ignore them. Untold I feel is becoming very negative, most posts are complaints and moans ( refs media other teams ) time to brighten the site up its Xmas

  7. A very very interesting article and very timely.

    The analysis is excellent and would be a good fit for many of those members of the AAAA I like to label as “brain dead”. This group like to cause discord or jump on the discord bandwagon, but are certainly not free thinkers or initiators – more along the lines of regurgitators. Some/many of the serial agitators on UA would certainly fit into this category.

    The other group, the “sinister AAAA” are those that conduct a deliberate campaign to undermine the club, manager and team. Most of their comments will not be initially aired on UA (there are exceptions) but will initially appear elsewhere and are repeated here by the brain dead parrots.

    I suspect that the shadowy tentacles of the sinister AAAA are spread across sections of the media, some so called supporter groups, a number of blog sites and one or two persons of apparent influence.

    I am not sure if the “sinister AAAA” would have the same psychological profile as their “brain dead” pals – possible, but the motivation and perceived reward/objective basis may be different.

  8. Gooner S

    Outstanding observation. Well done. I would agree, this site is certainly not passive in its support of arsenal football club. Positively passionate.

    Not sure about the agressive bit. I’d reserve that term for same small clique of consistent IP hopping IT “wizards” who are also Experts in Finance, Football, Practising Physiotherapists (sports), who for some bizarre reason can be traced back to one or two other sites. 😉

  9. @ Gouresh

    Thanks for the continuous fun you give us. The way you always make some inane comment which demonstrates the whole point of the article which has clearly gone way over your head always amuses me.

    @ Shoot

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke. And I think it’s fair to say that the aaa are doing evil to our club.

  10. nice comments Goonermikey,

    Don/Tony, I am sorry but as a defender of the English language I cannot sanction the use of ‘aaa’ over ‘AAA’. If we are using the trebled post-participle long-division acronym (as Percy’s 2nd law of quantum grammar would suggest we should) then the Anti- Arsenal Arsenal should always be written AAA ( as Arsenal is a proper noun)but we might allow aAA on the second Tuesday of every third calender month* (subject to the usual rules affecting troglodyte verbs and the phases of the moon).

    I hope that clarifies everything

    Good piece Don, thanks for the mention (I shall be keeping my eyes peeled on Boxing Day…this means YOU man in row 9)
    Happy Christmas Gooners all!

    * except, of course, in leap years

  11. Tommiegun…great questions. The other 3 elements I use to highlight the affective part of their personality….meaning how their emotional states apply to their actions (what motivates them, what they know or don’t know and what they can bring to the debate in terms of proven skills (coaching,officiating etc.). As far as what pleasure they get out of being AAA fanboys or fangirls, there are elements of sado-masochism, depression and defense mechanisms that ¨reward¨ their behaviour and attitude when AFC descend to their expectations, as well as an inherent satisfaction of being ¨proven¨ right (in their own worldview.
    Gouresh….if the article was too ¨fancy¨for you, make a copy and show it to your psychiatrist/analyst…they will try and explain it to you in words of less than 2 syllables.
    However, I will do an article on AFC’s psychological makeup and vagaries one of these days.
    Colario….unfortunately I never got the opportunity to see Arsenal in person as I live 3000 kms away in Canada, but the rest of your post is very salient!
    SHOOT…..I agree, we focus too much on these chaps BUT in honesty, there is no Football to write about so we have to depend on second best. Seriously, since they are important background noise for our excellent UA blog, and serve to highlight our positiveness and support for AFC and Wenger, then they merit an occasional scalding, don’t you think?
    blacksheep63….You lost me after ¨ trebled post-participle long-division acronym ¨ but I will continue to use the diminutive version of AAA as it seems patently more appropriate for diminished intellects like the aaa regularly demonstrate.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all UA and Goonership worldwide from snowy Canada.

  12. Not having understood much of the preceding contributions, with due humility, I wish all who read and comment on this site, the friendliest of good wishes for the festive season and the New Year.
    (May the January transfer window open wide for us). 😉

  13. Very interesting article Don!

    I have beeb absent from commenting of late (due to family issues – all getting better now), but have been reading all articles and majority of comments.

    I would just like to go off topic and wish ALL Gooners and in particular the main contributors to UA, a wonderful Christmas, and harmonious, health filled 2015 complete with SUCCESS!!!

  14. Don , that you for this – brilliant ! And you points are more that aptly proved by the manner of the comments . Those you get it , of cause , truly appreciate it , but those who don’t ….( or can’t !) well as one poster aptly said above, …..thanks for the laughs !
    Some nice quotes from finsbury , as well as fine comments from the AKBs . You guys really rock !
    Up the Gunners !

  15. The coffee shop – # 1

    Four Catholic ladies were having coffee.
    The first Catholic woman tells her friends “My son is a priest. When he walks into a room, everyone calls him “Father.”

    The second Catholic woman chirps, “My son is a bishop. Whenever he walks into a room, people call him, “Your Grace.”

    The third Catholic mother says, “My son is a cardinal. Whenever he walks into a room, people say, “Your Eminence.”

    Since the fourth Catholic woman sips her coffee in silence, the first three women give her this subtle, “Well?”

    So she replies, “My son is a gorgeous, 6′ 2”, hard-bodied dancer. When he walks into a room, people say, “Oh my God!”

  16. The coffee shop # 2.

    Freddie was eighteen years old, friendly, and eager to do things right. Unfortunately, he wasn’t especially bright. He had just started his first job, as a delivery boy and general go-fer at a furniture warehouse. His first task was to go out for coffee.
    He walked into a nearby coffee shop carrying a large thermos. When the counterman finally noticed him, he held up the thermos. “Is this big enough to hold six cups of coffee?” he said. The counterman looked at the thermos, hesitated for a few seconds, then finally said, “Yeah. It looks like about six cups to me.
    ” “Good,” Freddie said. “Give me two regular, two black, and two decaf.”

  17. People ask me if I wake up grumpy in the morning……. I reply—-No, I just bring her some coffee !!!

    A lady came into the kitchen, sat down at the table, leaned forward, put her head in her hands and said to her husband “Honey, I feel terrible! My head hurts, my back’s killing me and my left breast just burns and burns.” He said “I’m gonna help you, Dear. I’ll get you some aspirins for the headache, I’ll rub your back with Myoflex for the backache, and if you’ll sit up and get your breast out of the coffee, it’ll stop burning!”

    I have heard that if your wife/husband makes bad coffee, that is grounds for divorce.

    Men are like … coffee.
    The best ones are rich, hot, and can keep you up all night.

    The 23rd Cup

    Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not doze.
    It maketh me to wake in green pastures;
    It leadeth me beyond the sleeping masses.
    It restoreth my buzz.
    It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name’s sake.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of addiction,
    I’ll fear no Equal for thou art with me;
    Thy cream and thy flavorings they comfort me.
    Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of Juan Valdez.
    Thou anointest my days with vigor; my mug runneth over.
    Surely flavor and aroma shall follow me all the days of my life
    and I will dwell in the House of Maxwell forever.
    Amen !

    Like Arsene , in coffee too , I do also trust !

  18. Brickfields.

    Did you know that the bible has advice as to who makes the tea or coffee in a married couple? For many pages in the New Testament, it says on every page, “He brews”. 🙂

  19. Heard that one !
    Here’s The coffee shop # 3- ode to old farts !

    Life just gets better as you get older doesn’t it.

    I was in a Starbucks Coffee recently when my stomach started rumbling and I realised that I desperately needed to fart. The place was packed but the music was really loud so to get relief and reduce embarrassment I timed my farts to the beat of the music.
    After a couple of songs I started to feel much better. I finished my coffee and noticed that everyone was staring at me….

    I suddenly remembered that I was listening to my Ipod……..!

    This is what happens when old people start using technology

  20. A 10h late Merry Christmas from Seattle to all the AKBs (this one I trust won;t get demoted to minuscules;)

  21. *won’t – this is what happens when I use both PC and Mac keyboards – neither of them feels right. Shame that with my accent the text-to-speech is unusable.

  22. What is the point of this article? Except maybe to boast that you were a psychologist which seems like money for old rope considering your conclusions. These insights of yours are hardly new and we’ve all heard this before and this sort of piece is always penned when things aren’t going great on the field.

  23. Chapman’s Ghost: you ask – What is the point of this article? Well, I quite liked writing it, and a few people liked reading it.

    But given you have asked this, one may ask, “what is the point of your comment”. This is the 143rd comment you have made, so clearly you have read a lot of articles here, and you know what it is about. I can’t recall you being particularly positive about Untold at any time, so I start to wonder – why do you come and read this? Does it make you feel good to moan about us all the time?

    There are many other blogs you could read which are, quite probably, more in keeping with your own way of thinking. Or indeed you could start your own blog, and then express your views to the rest ofthe world.

    Indeed the fact that you say that “this sort of piece is always penned when things aren’t going great on the field.” shows that you have studied Untold a lot. I think your analysis is wrong, but nevertheless you are clearly of a mind that you have an insight into how we operate.

    But still I am puzzled. Why do you keep on reading Untold and commenting on Untold, when you seem to disagree?

  24. @Tony, I don’t know Tony, I wonder why you read the press when you hate everything they write. We must have some sort of compulsion. I also wonder why the writer of this piece is called Don and yet you claim you wrote it. I’m good at anagrams but I can’t make Don McMahon into Tony Attwood.

    I’m pleased you have the time to check I’ve commented 143 times; not much compared to some on here. I’ve no wish to start my own blog, there are enough Arsenal sites clogging up cyberspace and I doubt I could say anything new seeing as the club has been analysed in depth in thousands of ways in the last few years, some of these other blogs I have more affinity with than UA about certain things and on other things UA is more insightful. I find that no blog or person on any blog has all the answers and anyone who believes he does is in thrall to a rampant arrogance rather like this piece from which I infer, perhaps wrongly, that Don, or his alter ego, has access to all the facts and those that dare question the manager never employ any facts to reach their “errant” opinions, and in fact these people are mentally defective. Rather unpleasant way to besmirch those who have differing opinions, because on the whole that’s all we have, opinions based on limited facts because none of us know exactly what the owners of the club expect or want from our manager and none of us know if the manager is capable of moving the club forward.

    Let’s hope he is but I don’t really care who manages us as long as we progress. Anyway Wenger has said he intends to win the league by 2017, a bold claim which I hope comes to fruition.

  25. I’m not publishing this comment as it is the same as many we have published before, but it does contain one comment….

    .Everything you write is JUST AN OPINION,

    ….which I want to pick up on. I will publish an article with most of the commentary in, in the near future. The same is true of a number of other comments – they will form the basis of an article.

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