Chrisann Brennan: Steve Jobs was a haunted house of brokenness; cold, ruthless, and obsessive

“A lifetime later, I visited Steve after he was married. Our daughter Lisa was about 13 and Steve’s son, Reed, a tiny baby,” Chrisann Brennan writes for The Daily Mail. “We were outside his house in Palo Alto, California, when, without warning, Steve blurted out the meanest, terrible comments at me, about why I was such a total failure of a human being. I gasped, but Steve’s wife, Laurene, yelled at him to stop.”

“In early October 1977, I realised I could endure our hot and cold relationship no longer. Steve and I had been dating since our schooldays. We were completely crazy about each other and utterly bored in turns. I had suggested to Steve that we separate, but he told me that he couldn’t bring himself to say goodbye,” Brennan writes. “The ups were hopeful and the downs were extreme – then I found out I was pregnant. It took me a few days before I told Steve. His face turned ugly. He gave me a fiery look, then rushed out without a word.

“After Lisa was born, Steve didn’t call. I was utterly bereft. Outraged, too. It was only the intervention of an old friend who nailed him for his despicable behaviour three days later that changed his mind. He came into the bedroom where I was sitting holding the baby. He sat next to me on the Japanese bed with our backs leaning up against the wall and I started crying. ‘I just don’t know what I’m going to…’ I couldn’t even finish my sentence before Steve cut me off. ‘You’re clean and dry, so you’re fine!’ he said sharply. Then he walked out. This extremely odd response startled me,” Brennan writes. “Before he left, we went into a field to decide on a name. We agreed on Lisa. Why Steve wanted to use our newborn’s name for his new company’s new computer, the Apple Lisa, while denying paternity, dishonouring and abandoning both of us, was a question I couldn’t answer.”

“Not long after, DNA testing was introduced. This was the game changer,” Brennan writes. “In 1980, after Steve started sending a monthly automatic transfer to my account, he came over to my house out of the blue to speak to Lisa, who was not yet three. He sat on the floor with us and then proudly announced to Lisa: ‘I am your father.’ It was like some kind of Darth Vader moment. Then he waited for a response with a big, slightly fake smile on his face. I knew he was trying to do the right thing, but Lisa had no idea what he was saying. He literally said: ‘I am one of the most important persons of your life.’ I looked at Lisa and then Steve and then Lisa again. Suddenly, I understood that the person I was longing to save the situation didn’t have the basics of emotional intelligence, much less a real conscience. He was somehow just blank and theoretical.”

“It is only because of Lisa that I have felt obligated to comprehend the many broken shards of Steve’s glittering brilliance. For all the sparkling, spacious beauty of the Apple Stores, Steve was a haunted house whose brokenness was managed and orchestrated by Apple’s PR team in an extremely masterful way,” Brennan writes. “He told me once that he would lose his humanity in the business world. Though he came to lose sight of what was human and ethical all too often, the fact that he at one time knew the difference between who he was and the role he would play deepens my appreciation and love for him.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Steve Jobs had Asperger’s or something related; undiagnosed, we assume.

It’s not that difficult, Chrisann. Trying to deal with him as if he wasn’t an Aspie or whatever exactly he was, expecting him to react how you would react, would of course have been an extremely frustrating exercise, but that doesn’t make him a “monster” or “broken” or anything of the sort (see The Daily Mail‘s full tabloid mistreatment).

Steve Jobs was what he was. It was in his genes. It was how his brain worked. His mind wasn’t broken or in need of mending, he simply thought different than most people – and thank God for that.


  1. You are of course getting only one side of the story here, from one side of a dysfunctional relationship that only lasted a short time in Steve’s youth. That she recounted this to a tabloid should tell you something. Did this woman get pregnant to keep Steve after his making it clear the relationship was over? Perhaps this was the reason he was so angry. She then became very resentful when he refused to fall for her attempt to coerce him to stay because of the baby. This would make sense, considering the obvious bitterness she still feels about that time in her life.

    Whatever happened, I would take what this woman says with a great big grain of salt…

    1. Your comment and one-sided speculation is sick on many levels.

      News flash: someone can be inspiring and worthy of admiration on some dimensions and toxic on others. I have had a couple friends in life that managed to be both.

      Blaming the mother for hard feelings over Steve’s famous (and personally acknowledged) lack of support for a baby he helped make is ridiculously callous.

        1. Enough with your speculation. I am friends with and have worked with some people who worked with Steve as a peer right when Apple was just starting and also when he was dealing with Lisa and Chrisann.

          Steve was a cold, lose cannon according to them amd a snapcase when it came to his daughter Lisa. Was Steve Jobs a cold, controlling freak? There’s tons of evidence that he was. Countless articles, first hand reports, books… That’s fine.

          But none of you were there or seem to know or associate yourself with anyone who was close to Steve. It is not right to criticize this person. You have no evidence that anything she is saying isn’t true.

          In fact, I believe in Steve’s bio he talked about wondering whether he made the right choice marrying Lauren. That he effectively yearned for Chrisann. Steve Jobs was abandoned by his father. He seemed to have emotional issues such that he very well could have been broken inside.

          Chrisann would know rather than a bunch of fanboys spewing out on the Internet. Leave her alone. She’s clearly lived a life and is mourning his death even today. Obviously she loves him. That emotion called love might be hard for you geeks to process.

          1. you say you were friends with people who worked with Jobs but you post without your real id how do I know you’re speaking the truth?

            I could say I knew steve sine he was in grade school etc. (that’s lie but how do you prove it?)

            there are numerous accounts which have been published from people who have been proven to know Jobs unlike you that showed a different sides of Steve than Christian’s. Including comments from Cue, Ive, Cook and earlier friends.

            “Leave her alone”
            I can see how distorted you are. Dude SHE was the one that went public and publish — she wants to be the spotlight , we didn’t dig her up as she was trying to live a quiet life.

            1. you haters can down vote me and up vote dswe

              but can you logically what was wrong with my post?

              but I could point out what was wrong with his and my arguments are true (we didn’t dig up the fight with Chrisann, she decided to get the limelight and publish, there were many friends of Jobs who did not think he was monster and there is NO way without dswe putting his real name to know whether he actually knew those he claimed. if he actually was so familiar with jobs surely he’s got a Facebook or LinkedIn page? )

            2. I’m with you. The Daily Hate as it’s known here in the UK is about as fair as Ebola. They pay for dirt and if they don’t get it, they invent it. It’s a hit piece deliberately provocative, purely to drum up some cinema traffic for the upcoming film release.
              Anybody that thinks it reflects truth or veracity of historical events is severely deluded

            1. Note guys:

              Chrisann was a major consultant for the Sorkin movie.

              her article SO HAPPENS TO COME OUT ON THE MOVIE’S LAUNCH?
              you know that movie with such ‘well known and accepted facts’ like ‘apple stole the GUI’ and from a creator who believes such well known and accepted facts that Apple abuses it’s workers’ you know like he claims pays them ‘ 17 cents an hour’. (I guess just like the ‘well known and accepted facts that Jobs was an asshole’)

          2. There are countless reports on how Steven was kind, caring and compassionate, and that co-workers and friends loved him and were with him and for him for decades.

            Of course, if your (media’s) only source is former disgruntled employees and bitter ex-lovers, you will never know full picture of what Jobs was; her was much more complicated than a cardboard “evil genius” cliche that media paint.

          3. Enough with your speculation. I am the Illuminati and I control all the major Swiss banks from my home. You must believe me or you are a hater.. Do you see how risible it is for me to make claims and demand that others believe me when there is no way to independently verify these things? You did the same thing.

            “Leave Chrisann alone.” LOL. Son, nobody who wants to be left alone goes and vents to the press.

            “It is not right to criticize this person.” Why? Because she’s female? Is that the context here?Or is the logic is that anyone who expresses a sob story must be believed and never doubted? That’s how the Salem witch trials got started, you know.

            “Obviously she loves him.” Uhm, I sure hope my wife wouldn’t vent to the press after my death. I don’t think that qualifies as love. If you think that is love, I do hope you’re prepared for your wife or husband to do the same for/to you.

    2. How many stories from how many different people should you hear before you are able to connect the dots?

      Is clear he was a very very troubled individual.
      Admitting that does not take away from what he was brilliant at.

    1. Grow up. People sharing their experiences with Steve, good and bad, without sugar coating is a service to everyone that wants to try and understand him a little better.

      1. I’m not too sure it’s noble to sell your story to the press. I’m not too sure we should believe everything that the press publishes. I am pretty sure that not speaking evil of those who can’t fight back is a honorable thing to do and it has nothing at all to do with maturity. (Seriously?)

  2. This was an interesting read that seems to confirm what we already know…Steve, like many geniuses, was wired a little differently. His laser focus came with a downside of emotional immaturity/dysfunction. On a positive note, it seems there was reconciliation with his daughter later in life. The haters gonna hate, but like him or not, he changed the world in a way that few have…

  3. The current flood of melodramatic, mean-spirited, opportunistic Steve Jobs bashing is beyond boring. But turning Steve’s life into a cheap soap opera is about what one would expect in a country that has been as thoroughly dumbed down as this one. The world is full to overflowing with neurotic people, but true genius is a rare commodity. Demanding that our geniuses also be saints is just plain crazy.

    1. And that is why anatomically modern human beings took 190,000 years to get to civilization anyone who moves ahead gets dragged back into the muck. Anyone in history who has ever done anything great has to work long and hard to get there, there are no short cut to greatness (moving the ball forward is very hard work).

  4. You know? I’m a HUGE Steve Jobs fan. I was very depressed when he died. I had hopes to meet him in person once in my life. I read everything there is to read about him. I studied and learned from the guy. He is an inspiration for what I do.

    But I can’t be blind to certain facts. He did not handle Chrisann’s pregnancy nor parenthood in a mature way. He was an emotional mess. He did many things no one should be proud of. He did things which are plain WRONG.

    And as much as I always praise the good he has done (and he has done a big deal of good), I can’t just deny or be a revisionist of the wrong things he did.

    Steve was a great man. Not a great god. He made mistakes, and we should acknowledge that. We can not just justify them because he was Steve. No reason in the world can justify abandoning your kid. That is cruel. There is no way to justify it. You can explain it and analyze it. But for no reason should you justify it.

    I read awful justifications here. Was Chrisann a nutcase? The, Steve should perhaps have fought to keep his kid with him instead of with her nutcase mother. Was she a dumb weight for his growth? Could be, but that doesn’t justify abandoning his kid. Was he immature? Yes, sure, they were a couple of kids. But even among kids there’s the… mercy for an innocent newborn.

    Yes, there was a lot of wrong in Steve’s life. Doesn’t change the fact that he was brilliant and still one of my heroes. But there was a lot of wrong.

  5. I find it hard to argue with her as I’m not privy to the real facts but i have to point out:

    1) it’s a one sided story. think of a nasty divorce and you get the story from just one partner.

    also a lot of the nasties bits she relates was when Jobs was very young .

    2) Laurene Powell married Jobs in 1991 and stayed with him till his death in 2011. She has M.B.A and although I again I’m not privy to her private life looking at her public persona she doesn’t seem like someone to stick around that long with a ‘wacko’.

    3) form the stories of people in Jobs neighbourhood it seems like he was a pretty normal guy, brought his kids to pool parties etc. There was also that interesting story of the guy whose car broke down in front of Jobs house and Jobs and Laurene came out to try to help him.

    4) Some of Jobs staff stuck with him for years. Even sensitive and soft spoken people like Ive and Lasseter (Pixar). Cook offered him some of his liver when he was sick and Cook said Jobs was such a good friend he refused as it might harm Cook, he preferred death.

    Finally as a Jobs observer for years, as I kid I even went to the nearest big town for the NEXT launch, I think Jobs did have some personality issues especially when young which evened out in later years but I don’t think he was a everyday walking monster as some make him out to be.

  6. There is an article published in the Daily Mail about me told by someone else. It is quit positive. Some of it is true. No one who read it would know much about who I really am.

  7. Chrisann was an important person in SJ’s life, because every young man needs to learn not to stick his dick in crazy.

    She tried to trap him, he refused, and what did she do? She made a career of complaining about her plight so that he’d give her money to shut up. Now that he’s not around anymore, she’s looking to get paid any way she can.

  8. Don’t forget that she had been on the Apple Corp payroll. In the early days of the company, there was a lot of ’60’s style life going on too.

  9. Back in the 1980s, I was spending a lot of my time prosecuting men for the crime (yes, it is a crime) of failing to support their children in accordance with their financial ability. I got really tired of hearing their lame excuses and was glad when the Texas Attorney General took over the task from local prosecutors. I had hoped that with the passage of time, those lame excuses would have gone the way of the dodo in the face of advancing civilization. I got a rude awakening reading the comments above.

    1. I was astonished at all the self-styled conservatives buying the lame liberal excuse that a man can be excused from the violation of his legal and moral duty because he had a difficult childhood. I hope you never serve on any juries in my county, since most criminals can tell some sort of hard-luck story.

    2. Ditto for the notion that because a man is a genius he cannot be held to the standards set by law (and by common morality) for the rest of us mortals. I have trouble understanding why someone with extraordinary resources should not be held to at least the same legal and moral requirements as those who have fewer resources to call upon.

    3. I was always disgusted by defense lawyers who blamed the victim. That ploy is not dead–witness all the comments above suggesting that a woman bears all the moral (and should bear all the financial) consequences for an unplanned pregnancy, while the man has no duty towards the woman who “trapped” him or the life they created. Mr. Jobs is faultless (they claim) while Ms. Brennan is just a slut.

    4. There is a clear implication in some of these comments, by folks who are generally conservative and pro-life, that a woman who finds herself in this position is suffering a self-inflicted injury because she should have taken sole responsibility for contraception or had an abortion. These “good Christians” seem to think that men are regularly the victims of conniving females, although the Bible suggests that Adam was just as culpable as Eve.

    5. Women are still afflicted by the dual expectation that they should (a) stay home and care for their children and (b) directly compete in the job market with men who are not so burdened. It is apparently OK to get a woman pregnant, force her to take sole responsibility for the child, and then attack her as a failure because her career did not prosper under those circumstances.

    6. The deadbeat dads I used to prosecute always had the same excuse, that their responsibilities towards their children by a former relationship should take a backseat to their current professional and personal responsibilities. For example, they could not afford to pay for their eldest child’s food and housing because all their resources were committed to paying the mortgage on the house where they lived with their second family. They could not be expected to take an active interest in raising their children because they were so busy at work.

    7. Real people are complex. They are not cartoon characters. It is no insult to Steve Jobs’ real genius to point out his major faults. He does not need apologists, particularly not apologists that offer virtually every lame excuse a man has ever offered for taking advantage of a woman. About the only dumb argument missing above is that criticizing Jobs is racist because his father was Syrian.

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