lf2

More on powerful men behaving badly

John Edwards has joined the parade. The former North Carolina senator and presidential candidate was indicted last week for using campaign contributions to keep his mistress and their baby in hiding during his 2008 run for the White House.

He follows former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who admitted fathering a child with a member of his household staff, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who had to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund after he allegedly tried to rape a hotel maid in New York City.

A lot of people are asking, why do they do it? Why are these rich, powerful men willing to chance ruining everything they have achieved for momentary pleasure? Psychology researchers have come up with several answers.

Risks vs. rewards

WRAL TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, interviewed Scott Huettel, associate professor of neuroscience at Duke University, about the Edwards case. Huettel studies how the brain weighs risks and rewards. According to WRAL:

The brain, he says, asks this question when making a decision: “Is what I’m going to receive from this better than what I have now?”

Short-term gains often win, while long-term consequences are discounted, Huettel said.

Factors such as wealth and power do not often correlate with a higher cost on risk, Huettel added. In other words, those who have the most are often willing to risk the most.

More power, more adultery

Time Magazine took this argument further. Not only do powerful men tend to assess risk differently than the rest of us, but they are also surrounded by enablers who have an interest in keeping the powerful person in power, and help cover up the indiscretions.

Time also described forthcoming research:

A study set to be published in Psychological Science found that the higher men or women rose in a business hierarchy, the more likely they were to consider or commit adultery. With power comes both opportunity and confidence, the authors argue, and with confidence comes a sense of sexual entitlement.

Type T Personality

Then there’s Frank Farley, a psychologist and professor at Temple University, and former president of the American Psychological Association. He’s come up with what the calls the β€œType T Personality.” In response to the Schwarzenegger story, he recently wrote an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times entitled, What makes politicians stray?

In my view the factor most responsible for philandering in public officials is a predisposition for risk-taking, which also happens to be an essential quality for politicians. My label for it is the “Type T personality,” with the “T” standing for thrill.

Farley has been discussing his theory of thrill seeking for quite awhile. He was quoted in a Time Magazine article back in 1985. Β In 2006, Farley was interviewed about his theory when Ben Roethlisberger, the Super Bowl quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, went riding a motorcycle without a helmet, was hit by a car and suffered serious head injuries.

At that time, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote:

Dr. Farley divides risk takers into Type T positives — inventors, entrepreneurs, explorers — and Type T negatives — compulsive gamblers, criminals, people who engage in unsafe sex.

Incomplete explanations

All of these theories strike me as partially accurate, but incomplete, explanations for the sexual misbehavior of powerful men. Yes, the brain may find rewards now more appealing than consequences later, but certainly more is involved in behavior that has the potential to blow up everything an individual has worked for. A sense of sexual entitlement doesn’t explain this level of arrogant risk, and neither does the thrill factor.

Measuring psychopathy, however, may very well explain what is going on. Components of psychopathy include superficial charm, egocentricity, need for stimulation, deceit, lack of remorse, impulsivity, irresponsibility and promiscuity. Certainly all of these traits are factors in the egregious illicit affairs of powerful men.

But then we’d have to start using the “P” word in reference to politicians and titans of the business world. I’ll bet that a lot of people don’t want to do that.


Comment on this article

278 Comments on "More on powerful men behaving badly"

Notify of
I_survived_The_Bastard

This probably isn’t the right place to ask this but someone on a thread mentioned yesterday something about Sam Vaknin. I watched several of his videos on YouTube, but there was mention that he himself is an spath/ppath. Did I understand that correctly?

I think when it comes to powerful men (women) the “P” word is a 4-letter word and the only people the media seem even remotely willing to apply it to are serial killers AFTER they have been convicted.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But also I think that most powerful people have become that way either by inheriting position and/or wealth thereby feeling entitled, or they are high risk takers to begin with and have been willing to take the risks that get them INTO positions of power and control.

Bill Clinton is a perfect example of a man I think is a psychopath, he is VERY charming, he didn’t get the nick name “Slick Willie” by not being as smooth as oil! In the few times I met him when he was governor I realized just how SLICK he was.

I think that it is impossible for an honest person to rise very high in politics in today’s world. To even desire the job of president or governor a person would have to be narcissistic and a risk taker, two of the characteristics of a psychopath…and in order to achieve the position I think would have to be willing to sell their soul to the devil for the charm necessary to achieve it..

I Survived

I do think his book is amazing, however. The insights in his book are beyond anything I’ve read elsewhere.

It’s gross, illuminating, sad, evil.

πŸ™

Superkid

HAHAHA! Slick Willie…. I love that. I am laughing so hard, I cannot get a grip. My gosh. Oh jeeez, am I the only one that hasn’t heard him referred to as that? Well very funny, anyway.

Donna, yes seems that is the missing component in Farley’s positives and negatives. What about politicians (with a big P or little p?) ?.. ha ha

Had I not met Addiction, I would not be in such dubious company ie: gamblers and criminals. Oye!!! Need to go get those tests Ox..what can I say?.. have to laugh at my stupidity or I will go crazy…BOINK, DOUBLE BOINK with a titanium skillet…

Oxy amen sistah, I think in order to be a politician one has to have the seed of corruption in his/her moral makeup. It has nothing to do with what side of the political fence we are on. I believe with all of my being that it is nigh impossible to reach the pinnacles of power as a political force and not be corrupt SOMEWHERE. That is not saying that all politicians are spaths but so many are. What better breeding ground for their antics? Power, sex, money, supply, enablers, entitlement ??..sheesh.

Let me put this out there not to start a drama (I haven’t been on here long enuf to know who likes who and who dislikes who politically, just that Ox you don’t like Billy boy-understood he is a louse, so no agenda) but just to make a point: I think Sarah Palin is a female Slick Wille. IMO she is a media/attention whore and I believe she is a narcissist. My opinion of her has zilch to do with her political team but because she displays many of the traits. Can’t say if she is a full blown spath…time will tell on that one.

Looking into history, this “problem” we are discussing on this thread has always been and always will be. Can anyone say Caligula? Trouble is today, because of technical advances, we live in a voyeuristic society. It’s no longer just Gladys Kravitz watching what’s going on next door, the entire world knows within seconds of the breaking news and it goes viral.

John Edwards is the lowest of the low. My God his wife was dying. He get’s the Hiesman for TURDS.

Remember Tricky Dicky, President Richard Nixon? He was born and raised a QUAKER ( not quacker, Hens)…:) of all things… Just goes to show. The bad seed just waiting for fertile soil..

re: Sarah Palin: bi polar? meglomania? something is going on with that one.

p.s.

so I don’t get Shanghai’ed for kidnapping this thread:

John Edwards is a TURD with a capital T!!…

(ha ha.. she says in good fun).. πŸ™‚

I_survived_The_Bastard

I read on another site this morning that Obama is. Not being in the US I can’t comment but what do you guys think?

I like Obama, as far as having to choose someone to vote for.. I voted for him. Being that I am a person of color and from a marginalized group, I am happy to see a black family in the white house for a change, and not in the servants quarters.

With that said I believe that if he made it to where he is he has to have some corruption in him. He’s from CHICAGO for gawds sake. Sorry Illinois LFer’s-my state is right up there for corrupt politics, Billy the Kid, Lincoln County War, Santa Fe ring still around, our very own Slick Willie Bill Richardson..Obama hasn’t just yet shown uber spath tendencies but we don’t yet know everything about him. I am not one for conspiracy theories (tho I live not too far from the Roswell area)-not my bag. Hard core proof as with Edwards and Arnie are needed before I can make an assessment.

I think his arrogance rubs certain people (not meaning anyone here, just in general) the wrong way because he is a black dude. Just my opinion I Survived… πŸ™‚

oh boy think I am in trouble now… LOL πŸ™‚

I am not going to touch any of this with a 10 foot pole!! πŸ™‚

EB you are a very smart person!! LOL πŸ™‚

adamsrib:

Haha! Thank you! πŸ™‚

De nada mi amiga (U r welcome my friend…)

adamsrib:

Oooh, I am getting a Spanish lesson, I love that! Thanks! πŸ™‚

No problema. πŸ™‚

Are you from the US EB?… so many from UK…love it!…. sorry sometimes I lose details after reading posts. Oxy calls it CRS=can’t remember shite.. πŸ™‚

adamsrib:

Yes, I am from the US…a good old American! But my X spath is from England. Another reason I fell for him I am sure. I love that…CRS.

That’s right I remember now. Your ex from the UK and you and Blue Eyes comparing notes. I think one time we were discussing those UK guys and how they get us every time! CRS big time yes!! πŸ™‚

adamsrib:

Yes, you are remembering correctly. Wow, the British invasion…haha! I will never be the same. I’ve bought Tshirts with the British flag on them, etc. Sad.

AdamsRib,
omg. did i just read that one factor of your support for obama was his skin color? and you dismiss those who disagree with his policies as doing so b/c he’s black?

wow. katy who has a degree in economics and finance and does not EVER base her vote on race, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc.

Well, since I’m probably one of the more conservative LF members, let me say in fairness that Palin strikes me as a deeply narcissistic person. (Alas, her narcissism is probably the only thing that’s “deep” about her!) I don’t think she is a spath, but she is quite grating and ego-centric. What a shame, though, that people like her and Glenn Beck have made such a regrettable caricature of principled, intelligent conservatism in the popular mind! Give me someone like George Will any day: I would vote that man into the oval office without a second thought! But these other people – well, I guess it’s just one more example of the “dumbing down” of the culture.

Of course, the Left is just as bad or worse with Clinton, Edwards, Michael Moore, Bill Maher, etc. Haha -but I’ll leave my thoughts on them for another post!

I have been reading and learning on this site for the last two years-I am a Brit who married an American spath 14 years ago. He turned out to be a complete and utter bastard! Stole, lied, cheated-ran up debts-and continued to refuse to leave when I asked him to. I gained strength and knowledge from all of you. I pay all the bills and rent, so I could not afford to move out with our two kids…so last week, I asked him to go…he refused and once again became aggressive saying I can’t kick him out, we are married, bla bla bla, so I called the police. Turned out that as his name is not on the lease, he had no right to be here. I’d already packed his bags.
It took me years to finally call the cops, and because I got to where I hated him-the final break was just a formality. I am free! I know it’s not over, he’s told my son that he will be back and will stay in my sons room-no way! I slept on the damned couch for 2 long years. I have filed for divorce, but he thinks this is a momentary lapse as he thinks he’s done nothing to deserve being kicked out.
Mefree would like to thank you all for saving my life and my sanity through all of this…I learned what to watch out for and how to ‘read’ what he wasn’t saying (cos let’s be honest, what he WAS saying was a load of crap!)
I love having my bed back-and my future.

Katy, you COMPLETELY MISREAD my post and are in error in your analysis of what I am trying to say.

I really like you KD and we are at a good place. We have had disagreement before. We are kindred spirits so I will answer you with as much respect as I can muster.

This is how I would have asked what you ‘ve just asked me: “Adamsrib, could you explain to me why exactly you voted for Obama? I don’t want to assume anything but this is how I am reading it. It sounds TO ME like you are saying you voted for him because of his skin color. Am I wrong here?” That is how I would have approached your question to me.

No my friend I would never vote for someone based on skin color. That is ignorance don’t you think? I voted the way I did based on his platform.

Am I happy that we are now in a place in this country where we can have people of color in the white house (and not merely in the servants quarters)? A resounding yes!! That’s a good thing. It is called evolution, growth, progress, etc.

Did I say anything about “dismissing those who disagree with his policies as doing so b/c he’s black” ? No. Don’t know where you got that KD. What I said is some find him arrogant because he is black. Please, please go back and re-reread my post. This is the direct quote:

“I think his arrogance rubs certain people (not meaning anyone here, just in general) the wrong way because he is a black dude. Just my opinion I Survived” :)”

This quote says NOTHING about his policies just that there are SOME ELEMENTS of the human race that cannot tolerate an arrogant “uppity” (not my choice of label) black man. I find him somewhat arrogant because he is POTUS NOT because he is black!

Hope that clarifys my statements KD.

AdamsRib, who has a degree in sociology, Celtic Studies, and Women Studies and is working on a graduate degree in Theology/Religious Studies does not EVER base her vote on race, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc.

Love ya KatyDid πŸ™‚

Constantine, thank you for validating my take on Sarah Palin (and Glenn Beck) πŸ™‚ and coming from a conservative, very refreshing indeed sir!

oh my ~!

Hens ha…ha…know what that means..DRAMA ALERT…haha..LOL πŸ™‚

AR,

I’m just gonna throw in my two cents here, because it’s what I do. I feel being straightforward is the key to RESOLUTION about anything. HOpefully, things are resolved without a lot of drama or gray rocking (which goes on often around here, even if someone isn’t spath), BUT, my son works in an airport as a chef at a restaurant there. In September, I believe it was, he cooked a dinner for President Obama. It was unexpected and there was lots of security around. I don’t see him as “uppity” nor have I. I don’t base my opinions on ANYTHING but a person’s policies or what can be perceived as their character (what we know of them, and most of the time it’s safe to say we don’t), and not according to race, religion, age, or upptiness. πŸ™‚ Having said that and continuing, my son made this dinner for Mr. Obama and he LOVED it. So he asked who the chef was and they brought out my son to introduce to Obama. My son was FLOORED. So Obama sat with my son for about fifteen minutes shooting the breeze about his job, music, what have you. then he stood up, shook my son’s hand and gave him a hundred dollar tip. For a twenty year old kid, it is something he will NEVER forget. I don’t consider that uppity. And how do you know he’s arrogant? I’ve never met him. Must be the vibe he gives off? So that would be an assumption not an actual fact.

Aside from all of the labeling here, I think when it gets into politics, whether it’s policies or the politicians race, gender, religion what have you, we’re on a slippery slope and veering away from real issue at hand, which is PATHOLOGY. Narcissists, sociopaths, pychopaths OCCUPY certain positions of POWER to manifest their PATHOLOGY. The medical field, psychology, human services occupations are FULL of psychopaths! This is what they DO, it’s not what they ARE.

This is where people get mixed up when they hear specific views from politicians, doctors, therapists, you name it. Because they are in positions of POWER, people make assumptions about who they are according to their POWER IN POSITION AND AUTHORITY, without once acknowledging a few red flags here and there with regards to the person’s CHARACTER. And that is this person’s CHARACTER and PERSONALITY, goes directly to their PATHOLOGY.

So all this other stuff is just wasting time AR. Really. That’s what spaths do. They waste time. OUrs and others with side arguments that really deflect from the real issue. Spaths.

LL

MeFree,

so glad you are on the path to healing!! Having your bed back is a very good sign. It means, like the Phoenix, you are rising from the ashes. Good on ya!!!

politics and religion are gray subjects …. I am out of here …cya laters taters…

Thanks Adamsrib,
As I have said before, I watched what bigotry did to my grandfather, what bigotry did to me in my family, and bigotry was a huge factor in the abuse from my husbands family. So when I read your political views, I was dismayed that the word black was included. I like that a person of ordinary circumstances, not from wealth and/or priviledge, was able to work hard, get an good education, and establish their own career path where they were elected President. BUT where we disagree is Arrogance = narcissism ESPECIALLY in a politician… and my opinion about arrogance has NOTHING to do with his skin color.

Opinions about political figures based on their stupidity, narcissisim, THEIR bigotry, hyprocrisy, etc… well that’s just totally appropriate. πŸ™‚

ps glad to see we agree about factors not used in voting. I listed a wee bit of resume only to emphasize that I don’t just cast a willy nilly vote but that I cast an informed vote which is the Only criteria I use.

LL amen!!! Deflecting from the issue YES!! That is why I made it a point to clarify my position so there is NO MISUNDERSTANDING.

I said TO ME Obama comes off as arrogant because he is the PRESIDENT. Powerful men often come off that way IMO. My first statement is “I like him. I voted for him”. I made it a point to make sure that it is NOT ME using the term “uppity”. As a Latina I have had that term used on me and I HATE IT!

Wow so much jumping to conclusions, not carefully reading the posts, having knee jerk reactions leads to disunity on this blog. Please let’s slow down, carefully read a post, thoughtfully give a reply. Please.

I was simply clarifying my position SO WE CAN GET BACK TO THE SUBJECT.

Love ya LL you are so helpful to me!! πŸ™‚

Namaste

you are bomb KD!!! LOVE YA!! πŸ™‚

Rep. Anthony Weiner apologized for falsely claiming that his Twitter account had been hacked after a lewd photo showed up over Memorial Day weekend.
The New York Democrat admitted to having engaged in “several inappropriate relationships” with women he met online though never in person, but said he was not resigning.

I just knew this guy was lying!!!

AR,

This may help you further in understanding. Sometimes inflammatory words can lead to assumptions. Spaths do that too. πŸ™‚

It creates drama, thus directing us away from the subject at hand to the person throwing out the labels and inflammatory statements.

I don’t mean to say that this was your intention, only to say that it could be read that way, thus the reason for my post πŸ™‚

LL

i luv my weiner ~!

eb

Actually, that’s very sad. He’s just newly married.

I feel so sorry for his wife.

LL

Hens

ROFLOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SUCH A DICHOTOMY! LOL! OMG I THINK I”M SPLITTING! LOL

I LOVE MY WIENER TOO! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

LL

mefree:

Good for you!! I feel for you!!! A lot of us are the opposite on here it seems…American women with British men. I will pray for you!!!!!

LL:

I know, very sad. We don’t know if he’s an spath, but just one more man in politics and the power. I did not know he was newly married. Yes, I feel sorry for his wife πŸ™

Hens you r right about politics and religion but sometimes it helps to know that just because we don’t agree we can still be friends and respect each other. I love LL and KD and Constantine ((((group hug)))) πŸ™‚ and this thread has helped us to know each other better. But I get what you are saying….bye Hens… πŸ™‚

eb,

I don’t know either, but when a man gets on CNN and does an interview with Wolf Blitzer and LIES to him and the American people the way he did? Um, he could be just a tad bit spathy πŸ™‚

Just a guess.

LL

What is with these jerks sending pics of p’s? What woman is impressed and says oh boy, i wanna meet him now that I’ve seen his wille? the logic is totally over my head.

LL I have been questioned before as to whether I am a spath. I think we all have at one time or another. I am to the point where it does not bother me anymore. We are all PTSD and we get triggered. Took me a while to realize that goes on at LF.

Thanks for your explanation LL You rock πŸ™‚

Hens, bawhahahha Wish I could say I love mine too!! But I don’t have one…yet…ROTFL with LL πŸ™‚

Katy,

Well, I have yet to hear women that received them complaining…that is until they find out about one another πŸ™‚

LL

RE: Rep. Weiner (snort lol) Well another one bites the dust. I watch CNN on occasion but I cannot stomach how that former Gov. Spitzer dude ended up with his own show. What a crock!!

LL,
Oh, I thought that’s how he got reported. B/c someone objected to receiving his “package”.

I’m with KD. That sounds like a really crazee thing to do. I’d rather see his face first then decide if I want to see his willie…. πŸ™‚

Katy,

I’m not really sure about that. From what I understand there was not objection to the package they received, at least one of them anyway.

AR. you’d be surprised how many men enjoy sending pics of their willies. I’m not kidding.

LL

I notice all these guys have to do is say they are now reformed. That’s what Spitzer says. That’s what my husband now says. My husband was excused for a lot but when the magnitude of his behavior became public, he pulled back, got himself a woman who HELPED him be true to his morals. and now everyone forgives him b/c they love a redeemed man.

however, no one notices that he’s still immoral/unethical/lying/scamming in his divorce and STILL continues his shunning/abandonment of his daughter (oops the only other one who KNOWS what life was truly like in the HOME), and btw still cheating on his NEW woman who SAVED him (b/c as we all know, a good woman heals a bad man. He was only bad towards his wife b/c she was NOT a good woman.)

I predict that Arnold will come back having “redeemed” himself.

Katy,

How do you know all of this about your ex?

Knowing he’s still indulging his snarky behaviors….do you not feel somewhat validated in what you hear?

I think spaths eventually give themselves enough rope to hang themselves with. They can’t stay true to not only one woman, but one belief system either.

LL

Send this to a friend