Believe it or not, this is the third time I have written about the lurid sex scandal involving disgraced politician Anthony Weiner, a former U.S. representative and New York mayoral candidate. He was caught years ago texting his crotch shots to women. As a result, he lost his reputation and his career, and almost lost his marriage to wife Huma Abedin, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, who had previously decided to stick by her man.
What truly defies belief is that Weiner was caught doing it again. This week, the incorrigible ex-congressman was busted sending sexual images to a busty woman who, this time, reciprocated with pictures of herself.
And so history repeats itself, inexorably. But we should have known it would, as I suggested the last time I wrote about the sad case:
“A year ago, I commented on Congressman Anthony Weiner’s resignation in my blog, ending with a line that turned out to be prescient: “He went away, but his needs didn’t.” On the surface it may sound like a simple thought, but the idea of being driven by insatiable yet unconscious needs is key to understanding why smart men do such dumb things.”
I am sure that at some point his wife must have given him an ultimatum, “Never again or I will leave.” Well, she finally had to go trough with her threat. After the latest expose, she announced she was finally leaving. I guess finally it became clear that her husband’s outrageous, unfaithful behavior wasn’t going to stop.
The poor woman, like the public, must still be at a loss to explain how the man could continue to risk the only good thing he has left, his family life with his wife and young son. So my point bears repeating: Needs don’t just go away.
How can we explain Mr. Weiner’s odd behavior, and especially his choice of sexting as a vehicle for release? Why send pictures electronically when he knows full well they can easily be made public, providing proof of his perversions?
In order to understand Mr. Weiner, the man, we must focus on the child he still has inside. As early as age one, children start learning rudimentary language so they are no longer frustrated and can communicate with the rest of us. They can signal us when hungry, thirsty, annoyed, tired, sleepy, etc. And the message gets through. The child is relieved because he can deliver his feelings.
Well, Mr. Weiner can do the same. He can speak in a language with no words that conveys his needs and feelings. And what do they say? “I am a man, strong, tough,” or whatever his unconscious dictates. Perhaps he is trying to say, “I am worthy of attention and caress and adulation.” Whatever it is, this message has to get out because it represents a deep need/feeling inside of him that he has no idea is there. It is saying what he feels unconsciously. It is saying what his parents deprived him of: A feeling of being loved, worthy, important. That is what he needed way back when, and he needs it NOW. The need has never left and never will, until it is felt and made conscious so it no longer has to be acted-out.
Obviously, it can be overwhelming. As long as the need remains unconscious, it is out of his control and will continue to drive his compulsive behavior.
So when his wife says, “Next time I leave,” he may want to do the right thing, but he can’t. He is forced to act out again even though it means divorce and being bereft of his young child. There has to be something very strong to defy that and put his marriage in danger. Having seen the force of Primal pain I do know of its force and pressure; it has to get out. The only way nearly all of us have for relief is acting out the feeling.
The experience of the one year olds tells us about Anthony. They both speak in symbols, not words, to express their feelings. They speak on the brain’s second line, the limbic system. And Weiner is back down in time in the brain speaking with the same language. The force is enormous and demands relief from the pressure it exerts.
The act-out doesn’t have to be sexual. I once had a patient who refused to use her turn signals while driving because, she’d rationalize, “it’s no one’s business where I go.” She realized later, through therapy, that her unsafe driving was driven by defiance of her mother who constantly kept tabs on her as a child, relentlessly asking her where she was going.
It can also happen when a drug addict has found relief. He falls prey to his buried Primal Pain. It is all done without words, mind you. Whether the person shoots up, or he flashes or texts or he takes one more drink. We all understand that alcoholics find it hard to quit drinking. Well, for someone like Weiner, flashing one’s sex is compelling and irresistible as one more drink is to an alcoholic. They both know it’s ruining their lives, but they can’t help themselves. “Knowing” is a weak combatant in the fray. It is a latecomer to the cortical armamentarium and a weaker force than the dinosaur brain spouting out its memories. When there is deeply buried, embedded pain, it often takes a non-verbal method to combat it. Like drugs, which are immediate and powerful.
For dear Anthony to put a long-term marriage in danger has to involve an equal and opposite force, something possibly life saving. I have observed that force in hundreds of patients over fifty years, and it is an ineffable experience. We do see near-death events, the strangling and choking and suffocation that cannot be faked but it is there.
I cannot possibly know what is behind Weiner’s acts act-outs but we know it is there, as we have stopped it in so many other similar cases. That act-out It is
saying something, that act-out, and but only he can decipher the meaning. There is no expert alive who can do that job. That is why we need a therapy of deep memory, a therapy of feelings and of embedded and hidden memories. A therapy of experience, not of insights. No one alive can bestow that truth on anyone else; except that contained within that act-out lies a secret, symbolic message betraying what it is. So if you read hieroglyphics you get it; if not, you don’t.
It is the feeling that remains in the memory/feeling system, and it gets transformed into an act later on. The act can only be approximate, because it if were exact it would be a Primal, and the level of pain would not allow it. But the feeling drives the act-out, and that involves all kinds of different experiences. If he finds playing football early on that may fill the void. Life circumstance fills the void. But the act-out has to be close to the feeling and it usually is.
There is no way to know what that need is until he feels it in a Primal but rest assured, it is there, in force. Until then, the act-out relieves the pressure of unfelt feelings. If it did not, then all manner of afflictions may occur as the person is bottled up with his pain. What the act-out may block is deep depression as one sinks with his load of unfelt feelings, or a different balancing act such as overeating or heavy smoking. There is only one way out, and that is the scientific way in which I believe we now have. Aah.