USA Today - March 12, 2008
(Peggy's comments in italics)

Path to scandal: Why does this keep happening?
Experts call it hubris, thrill, entitlement
By Janet Kornblum (Contributing: Sharon Jayson)

Hubris? Arrogance? The need to take huge risks?

How could someone as powerful and intelligent as New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer find himself embroiled in such a political fiasco, accused of meeting with a prostitute in a hotel last month in Washington, D.C.?

And how could this scenario keep repeating itself? Didn't Spitzer, 48 and married with three daughters, see Bill Clinton get into trouble for his affair with Monica Lewinsky? Didn't he see the public chagrin of celebrities when they've admitted cheating? What would compel someone like Spitzer to pursue a path that has so often led to scandal and humiliation?

"Hubris," says Rabbi Brad Hirschfeld, author of You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. "The same thing that makes a person imagine they are big enough and bold enough to go be a CEO of a major company or the governor of the state of New York or the president of the United States is probably the same sense of grandeur that allows them to imagine they'll never get caught. It's about being bigger than the normal rules."

The type of people we tend to elect to public office also are the type to take risks - big risks, says Frank Farley, professor of educational psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. "They believe they control their fate," he says. "It's the thrill of it." If Spitzer had simply wanted to have an affair, "he could have done it in a less risky way."

It's also a sense of entitlement, says Ruth Houston, author of Is He Cheating on You? 829 Telltale Signs. "When you see public figures, politicians and celebrities cheating, many times they're doing it because of who they are - and they feel they can cheat with impunity."

But Ann Rosen Spector, a clinical psychologist at Rutgers State University of New Jersey, doesn't believe pure arrogance would explain risk-taking behavior: "It seems more likely that he had an overwhelming sexual desire or he had a real desire to play on the edge."

Regardless of the reasons, extramarital affairs can shatter a spouse's world, says Peggy Vaughan, author The Monogamy Myth and founder of the Beyond Affairs Network, a group for those dealing with a spouse's infidelity. "The spouse is not who you thought he was, the marriage isn't what you thought it was. The deception is still the same, and that's where the pain comes from. (Spouses) recover from the fact that their partners had sex long before they recover from the fact that they were deceived."

Still, many men who have affairs don't do it because they're in an unhappy marriage, she says. Many see it "as having nothing to do with their wives." (They) genuinely love their wives and love their families and also enjoy these outside perks.

"It's only when it comes out and is exposed publicly that they then have to focus on the connection."

(end of article)

For more perspective, see: Exposure of Affairs of Politicians and Celebrities.

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