Why Do So Many Powerful People Think the Rules Don't Apply to Them?
The list of famous politicians who were caught up in outrageous sex scandals includes: Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Mark Sanford, David Vitter, Gary Hart, Elliot Spitzer, Gary Condit, Larry Craig and just this week the list got longer with two freshmen newcomers: Dominique Strauss-Kahn and, of course, the freshman newcomer, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
What's going on with these men? What could possibly be going through their heads? With so much publicity, so much security, so much media and with so much to lose -- why do they take the chance? What prompts them to engage in such appalling behavior, usually spanning several years? Why do they take such precarious chances when they could lose it all if they get caught?
Rich, famous and powerful figures learn early in the game that the rules really do not apply to them. They have their own separate toolbox that ordinary people do not possess. They wear the most expensive clothes and drive the most expensive cars. They have their own security and their own "yes" men. And of course, they have the most powerful tool of all, money.
Their behavior is different from the ordinary person, as well. When they speak folks stop and listen, when they want something, handlers are there to get it and when they break the rules an army of folks cover the tracks or take the fall. They are, undoubtedly, under the belief that if they get caught doing something they shouldn't, their power will surely bail them out.
It is often said that narcissism begets power but the reverse is true as well. The mantra of the powerful? "I want, what I want, when I want it and I will do whatever it takes to get it”. There's also the mindset that says, "too bad if you get in my way -- you lose!"
Risky, aggressive behavior can often propel success. It is not by accident that politicians, CEO's and celebrities are usually thrill seekers and risk takers. Physically, studies have shown that the brain chemistry is different in powerful politicians, leading to sensation seeking and risky behavior. They have lower levels of the brain chemical monoamine oxidasse -A, which means they have higher highs when they engage in risky behavior and that they get bored much more easily than the norm.
So these are the guys who go for it and often end up being very successful. Notice, we rarely hear about the ones who fail and there are many more of those! But what they have in common, what they crave, is the thrill of that risky behavior and immediate gratification. In fact, they thrive on it. In business, politics and yes, sex.
Also, success and winning raise the testosterone level, which has been tested in athletes, performers and politicians. This in turn, leads to not only more success but also to a higher sex drive.
All you have to do is look at photos of our politicians in power and featured in celebrity magazines. There's the pose, as I like to call it. In fact, there's a name for these poses. They're called the "Power Positions," hand on hips, legs spread a bit, chest out and shoulders squared. In other words, spreading your body out.
It doesn't hurt, either, that these guys already have a healthy dose of testosterone, although when striking the pose, studies indicate that testosterone levels actually increases even more. Interestingly, this link to testosterone could explain why woman rarely behave in this manner.
So as we watch yet another politician fall from grace, remember that one of the reasons they are so powerful is that we perceive them to be powerful and because of this we often turn a blind eye to the behavioral red flags that are waving.
Some of us will take chances, while others will not. Sometimes these chances pay-off with success but more often not.
But the thing to remember is that no one is above reproach, no matter how much you have or how powerful you are. The Power Game can be a dangerous game, seductive and enticing leaving the winners feeling almost invulnerable and wanting more risk and more thrills.
This said, clearly, it's only a matter of time before we see yet another politicians name added to the dreaded sex scandal list.
Dr. Dale Archer is a psychiatrist and frequent guest on "FoxNews.com Live." For more, visit his website: Dr.DaleArcher.com.