The anger was eating away at Henry R. Silverman. It was May, 1998, and at the urging of a worried friend, he went to see a psychiatrist. Cendant Corp., the company Silverman formed through a high-profile merger in late 1997, was engulfed in what would become the accounting scandal of the decade. As he sat in the psychiatrist's office on New York's Upper East Side, the therapist, who Silverman says has treated his share of executives with legal problems, asked bluntly, "Are you the vic or the perp?" Silverman didn't have to mull over this one for long. "I'm the vic," he said.
The answer speaks volumes about Silverman's life for the past year and a half. Many Cendant critics would snort at the notion that he's a victim. They believe Silverman has only himself to blame for the ill-fated merger of his franchising company, HFS Inc., with direct-marketing outfit CUC International Inc. But in Silverman's mind, it was the business equivalent of an assault. Before the shrink could ask many more questions, Silverman laid it out for him: "I said, `This is not about Mommy and Daddy. I'm in touch with my feelings. I know how I feel. I'm consumed with rage."'