by Mark Goulston and Doc Barham

Why do so many rich and famous men stray?

Could it be about being hooked on adrenaline, feeling entitled to the adoration and admiration of the masses, feeling unduly carped/nagged/criticized at home and then being seduced by power into developing secondary Asperger’s Syndrome?

Hooked on Adrenaline

What such people that are excitement junkies never bargained for or prepared for is the fact that the thrill of an adrenaline rush is exceeded by the anguish of an adrenaline crash. It is similar to the crash off cocaine and people who are hooked on that will do almost anything to avoid it. Something that is both ultra-challenging (“Let’s see if I can get that babe at the bar to go upstairs and have sex with me”) plus forbidden (“Let’s see if I can get away with something that if caught could ruin my reputation”) is both a recipe for excitement, an adrenaline rush and disaster.

Adoration of the Masses vs. “You ain’t so special” at Home

As great as you think you are in public is as average or even below average you can be at home when it comes to giving quality time to your spouse and children.  Why below average?  That is because the greatest form of caring is to give someone your undivided attention, empathy and then to be of service to them about what’s important to them.  Wilfred Bion, a highly respected psychoanalyst of the last century, explained that it “to listen without memory or desire.”  When you listen with memory, you have an old agenda that you are trying to plug people into, when you listen with desire you have a new agenda that you are trying to plug people into.  In neither case is it their agenda.  Having a purpose is about being of service to others; having an agenda is about getting others to be of service to you and in the case of the Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwarzenegger it’s about keeping their ego puffed up. What are they so insecure about?  If you can get past your own awe and look deeply into their eyes, you may see that they have a hidden agenda of being more self-centered (that they don't want you to see) than truly caring about you.

One of the worst things about this situation for wives of these men, is that power is so seductive, that the children of such egomaniacs often start off being on their mother’s side and against their philandering fathers, but grow up seeking and valuing more the attention of their fathers and taking their mothers more for granted.

Secondary Asperger’s a.k.a Goal Oriented to a Fault

An element I would add to the above is that what all these men have in common is that they are extremely goal oriented.  When people become goal oriented to a fault (and this can occur in women as well as men, although men more often get into sexual problems) and then have a taste of achieving them, the power associated with it can become intoxicating and addicting. And when that happens, other people are no longer seen as people, but as a means to achieving more goals, be it money, a political victory or a sexual conquest.

It’s as if these hypertrophied goal oriented adrenaline driven individuals develop secondary Asperger’s Syndrome.  With primary Asperger’s, people don’t lose interest in connecting emotionally to other people, they simply have a limited ability to do that from the start.  In its place is often an extreme goal orientation and that combined with not being distracted by emotional issues of others can often result in major accomplishments especially in the technology and financial fields (where spouses and children are often frustrated by the lack of “relatedness” they feel from their parent with Asperger’s).  And people with primary Asperger’s do not often cheat on their spouses.  Where they frustrate their spouses and children is in the tenacity with which they pursue their goals.  And that is not a matter of being insensitive (i.e. maliciously hurtful), but rather of their being not sensitive because of their limitations.

With secondary Asperger’s Syndrome, people may have once had a desire and ability to connect emotionally to people, but as they become driven, sucessful and intoxicated by power and goal achievement, they often lose the motivation to connect with people emotionally unless it serves the purpose of achieving a goal.

Whether is was a matter of adrenaline addiction, believing they are entitled to adoration or being goal oriented to a fault, there will now always be an asterisk attached to Bill Clinton’s, Tiger Wood’s, John Edwards’ and now Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s and Arnold Shwarzenegger’s careers because of their succumbing to it.

I recently heard someone say: “Character is what you do when you feel tempted, frustrated, angry and/or bored and nobody is looking and you believe you won’t be caught.”  Maybe believing that last point is being naive and foolish.

Doc Barham is the CEO and co-founder of Xtraordinary Outcomes where Dr. Goulston is Chairman and co-founder.

Be sure to read the following responses to this post by our bloggers:

When Experts Who Want To Be Rich and Famous Stray is a reply by David Schnarch Ph.D.

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