Should we feel sorry for Anthony Weiner? | The Tylt
Should we feel sorry for Anthony Weiner?
Ex-congressman Anthony Weiner has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting a 15-year-old girl. But this is not Weiner's first sexting scandal. His downfall began in 2011, when he accidentally shared a sexually explicit photo to his Twitter account. Weiner has since been involved in a number of embarrassing scandals, the latest of which led to his wife, former Clinton aide Huma Abedin, to finally file for divorce.
But while many in the media and the public have shamed Weiner for his unforgivable actions, some pity the disgraced politician and believe he suffers from sex addiction. Behavioral health expert Robert Weiss argues in the Huffington Post that the public can learn more about sex addiction through Anthony Weiner, who he believes is clearly unable to control his sexual urges.
I know that many will simply see him as a self-destructive, masochistic narcissist, and that may be true gauging from everything we have heard in public. But it also may be true that this man is, in addition to whatever character flaws he may exhibit, a sex addict. This means that he is someone whose entire life and sense of self have become wrapped up in finding sexual and romantic validation at any cost — even to the detriment of everything he likely holds dear. And he doesn’t seem to be able to stop himself. Thus, I can’t help but feel empathy for his self-created losses.
Weiss continues that, while Weiner's actions are clearly wrong and immoral, it doesn't change the fact that he is, in fact, an addict.
If nothing else, perhaps Mr. Weiner and his sad escapades could offer us insight into these kinds of problems, ones that are both “immoral” and clearly “unthinking,” but also ones deserving of useful intervention and proper psychosexual treatment where possible.
...make no mistake. What Mr. Weiner did was wrong. Full stop. But what person in their right mind throws away everything they hold dear for the sake of momentary pleasure? And the truth is that Mr. Weiner isn’t that different from the thousands of people I’ve treated with this disorder over the past two and a half decades.
But not everyone agrees with Weiss' assessment of Anthony Weiner. Jesse Singal argues in New York Magazine that sex addiction is still a very fuzzy and controversial topic within the psychological community, and it is often used as a way to excuse men for their bad behavior and rob them of their agency.
There are good reasons to resist this temptation, according to David Ley, a clinical psychologist whose book, "The Myth of Sex Addiction," should give you a sense of how he feels about the idea of sex addiction... Ley’s basic argument is that that “sex addiction” isn’t well-defined, is quite scientifically controversial, and in recent decades has been increasingly used to explain a broad range of bad behavior on the part of (mostly) men. But in a sense, this robs men of their agency, of the possibility that they can control their compulsions and put them in a broader, more meaningful psychological context.