As if the past few weeks hadn’t served up enough tales of savvy, political figures behaving badly, now we have a real weiner-roast of a story. Following in the wake of Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer, Marc Sanford, Chris Lee, Larry Craig, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, married Congressman Anthony Weiner’s admission of his recent Calvin-clad sex-tweets sent to several woman, none of whom who happened to be his new wife, offers up yet another example of how far a man can fall in pursuit of a sexual high.

And here, as in previous high profile cases the same questions arise:

  • Is there something about men in power that can lead to callous grandiose and inappropriate sexual actions?
  • How can some men, apparently smart enough to get into Congress or even the White House make such dumb sexual decisions?

First of all, it should be no surprise to anyone that it isn’t just men in power who act out sexually. Undoubtedly there are enough chronically unfaithful and sexually addicted regular guys currently screwing up their committed relationships, marriages and careers, either in online sexual activity, in strip clubs, massage parlours or with prostitutes and affairs, to prove that point. And while it is unfortunately true that some men in power mistakenly believe that their office and position can somehow insulate them from the sexual pratfalls of the ordinary guy, sex and intimacy disorders are readily found in every class, race, sexual orientation and job title – not to mention among both genders.

As to why smart people act out sexually (or otherwise) in seemingly stupid, addictive and poorly considered ways, that answer is simple: as human beings our intellectual ability and emotional development often run on differing, sometimes conflicting tracks.

Well-nurtured, emotionally healthy adults are usually able to keep their more primitive urges in check by using intelligence as their choice-making filter. Healthy people intellectually weigh the potential consequences of their actions before acting, which most of the time keeps them out of trouble. However for those people either challenged by an underdeveloped emotional life, one out of balance with their intellect, or for those under extreme emotional or other more external stressors, emotional decision-making can and will predominate.

Even the most well intended smart and committed dieter may ‘end up’ scarfing down those intellectually undesired brownies and chocolate bars unless following an eating plan, having healthy regular snacks and avoiding the buffet line when tired or emotionally vulnerable.

In a similar way powerful, overly stressed out intelligent, intimacy-challenged people who don’t necessarily intend to cheat, sext, have affairs lie and manipulate can ‘find’ themselves’ getting into impulsive and sexually addicted behaviors as an attempt to emotionally self-medicate and to feed themselves spiritually. These are not the unfortunate choices of bad people or decisions made due to low intellect or a lack of understanding of the potential consequences.

These repetitive, problematic sexual faux pas are the reactive, denial based, tunnel-vision decisions of overstressed, emotionally challenged individuals either unable or unwilling to accept the simple human needs we all share for honest, vulnerable, intimate connection, rest, self-care and an ongoing active process of self-examination.

Robert Weiss is Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute and Director of Sexual Disorders Services at The Ranch Treatment Center and Promises Treatment Centers. These centers serve individuals seeking sexual addiction treatment and porn addiction help.

Follow Robert on Twitter @RobWeissMSW



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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (June 7, 2011)

Mental Health Social (June 7, 2011)

Weinergate Adds Fuel To the “Men In Power Acting Out” Fire — Robert Weiss (June 8, 2011)

From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (June 8, 2011)

From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
Best of Our Blogs: June 10, 2011 | World of Psychology (June 10, 2011)

iCESAR 3.0 (June 24, 2011)

    Last reviewed: 6 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Weiss LCSW, R. (2011). Sex, Affairs, Sexting and Scandals: How Smart Men End Up Doing Really Stupid Things. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2015, from


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