Putting aside their professional ethics which require that
they meet and fully assess an individual, psychologists, psychotherapists
and sex specialists have been quick to offer "expert
opinions" on what ails Bill Clinton. Based on nothing
more than unsubstantiated reports of kissing in the Oval Office
or exposing himself in a hotel room, they have diagnosed the
President as a patient.
These mental health experts seem to agree that he has a problem.
Some call it a compulsive disorder. Others refer to an underlying
anxiety. At least one offers the cliché theory of childhood
trauma, suggesting a history of sexual abuse. But the most
popular diagnosis, by far, is "sex addiction."
Dr. Douglas Weiss, recovered sex addict from Fort Worth,
Texas, who is now a sex addiction specialist, has recommended
treatment: "We have nothing but compassion for (Mr. Clinton),
and hope that he seeks help."
What is sex addiction? Some compare it to the uncontrollable
emotional and physical urges for drugs or gambling. The treatment
of so-called sex addicts has become a multimillion dollar
facet of the psychology industry in the past decade. Where
once the clergy offered moral counsel to adulterers and philanderers,
now sex-addiction counsellors provide therapeutic services.
Over 2,000 "sex addicts anonymous" groups have sprung
up across North America. And, theres even an Internet
site exists (www.sexaddict.com) where help can be found.
The presidents alleged affairs have provided tremendous
free advertising for both the would-be therapists and the
idea of sex addiction. But there are some who dismiss this
pathologizing of the presidents behaviour, seeing it
instead as a clear example of the abuse of power. Their reasoning
is that Mr. Clinton was in a more powerful position than Paula
Jones or Monica Lewinsky, so therefore these women are victims
of harassment or assault.
Mr. Clintons power cant be denied; as the phrase
goes, he is the most powerful man in the world. But does this
mean that he necessarily used, let alone abused, this power?
So far, there is nothing in the accusations against him to
suggest that he extorted consent or made promises that were
contingent on sex. In fact, he seems to have backed off quickly,
like an embarrassed school boy, at the first utterance of
the word "No" from any of these women.
One reason the "abuse of power" theory is so favoured
in gossip circles is because it is
a favoured invention of the left-leaning feminists, who want
to cast women as victims of the men who have status in a patriarchal
society, and of the right-leaning conservatives who want to
establish a sexually repressive culture. And a gullible public
unthinkingly accepts these notions.
Men, who have historically assumed positions of greater authority
and responsibility, are being accused of abusing their power
when they have intimate relationships with women in lower
power positions. This moral tyranny has stolen from women
one of their gifts (weapons?), one that was most prized historically
- the ability to seduce men.
The "power" theorists want to deny that bedding
a powerful man is incredibly arousing for some women who feel
their power in seducing him. As Jeanne Safer a New York psychoanalyst
once said: "You look really good when a powerful man
desires you, and it is a traditional way for women to have
Might this not be why Ms. Lewinsky bragged to her untrustworthy
friend about her relationship with the President? If so, who
has the power; the sexually aroused President or the sexually-arousing
But such a view of women is no longer politically acceptable.
For feminist activists, the promotion of images of men-as-aggressive
and powerful/women-as-weak-and-vulnerable has aided them in
getting many gender-biased laws established.
And, for the psychology profession, the diagnosis and treatment
of sexual disorders to support ideological programs is big
business. For example, Douglas Weiss, who wants Mr. Clinton
to get help, runs Heart to Heart Counseling Centers and a
small empire of workshops, books, tapes and a newsletter,
all focused on sex addiction.
Of course, extorting sexual favours is wrong and sex-crazed
criminals do exist. But none of this remotely describes Mr
Clinton. Even the courts have said that while he may be boorish,
he isnt a criminal. Or crazy. The worst you can say
is that hes a dirty old man. But then maybe all he suffers
is a healthy libido.