Psychology of Self Destruction

Tracy Press – Town Crier Power and the psychology of self destruction

Some men have a subconscious desire to commit suicide, whether that suicide is actual or metaphorical. Anthony Weiner definitely falls into the metaphorical category. He committed political suicide.

According to political pundits, when you swim in the big cesspool of American politics, you don’t “tweet your meat” without “losing your seat.” What makes a man of his stature do something so insanely stupid?

There is a certain pathology that goes with being in a position of power. It makes you feel both invincible and supremely vulnerable at the same time. That juxtaposition seems to characterize itself through hidden carnal agendas for many powerful politicians, especially male politicians.

The male ego seems to be closely tied to the concept of masculinity and power, particularly sexual prowess. Sigmund Freud said that all civilization is nothing more than the diversion of libidinal energy into cultivating arts, education and politics. According to Freudian psychology, self-esteem in men has a very direct correlation with their sense of masculinity.

Freud introduced the concept in 1908 in his article “On the Sexual Theories of Children” and in 1914 published his work “On Narcissism.” He describes a mental process of going from the phallic stage to the latency state in his work on psychosexual development. He believes that the phallic state occurs between the ages of 3 to 6 years. This phase of a child’s development lays much of the foundation for later years and how strong a child’s ego is going to be.

These stages are preceded by the first year or two of a child’s life, which is primarily oral, characterized by libidinal needs of eating, sleeping and attachment. Freud suggests that deviance or attachment issues in children develop into certain complexes, such as the Oedipal complex in boys, in which they are obsessed with their phallic regions. This focus may become a subconscious obsession that later leads to sexually deviant behavior, such as voyeurism, perversion, obsession with pornography, secret sexual deviances, etc.

This phallic obsession is not uncommon in men in general, but it’s particularly prominent in men in powerful public positions. They tend to need greater accolades for their masculinity, given their inflated sense of self, which is actually over-compensation for deep-seated feelings of powerlessness.

At the root of sexual deviance is a need to break free of that which is seen as limiting, a feeling of being inadequate and overcoming that inadequacy by being “the man.” This typically involves a subject (typically a woman), from a secret mistress to a large number of call girls and the like.

On an everyday scale, this need for power resonates in the world of politics. Recently, many powerful men made headlines relating to their sexual deviances: the International Monetary Fund chief, Weiner, Sen. David Vitter, former Sen. John Edwards, the list goes on.

Why would men of their stature risk losing their careers over sexual liaisons?

One answer lies in the psychology of self-destructiveness. William Shakespeare called it man’s tragic flaw — a hidden deviance that wipes out the totality of one’s other achievements by rearing its ugly head until it traps you and exposes your flaws to the world.

These men had everything, and then some: great careers, a political future, the ability to make a real difference through their work. Yet they get caught with their pants down.

In other countries, their sexual promiscuity would not deter their political advancement. But in a country like ours, getting caught with your pants down is political suicide, whether in person or via tweet.

The hypocrisy of the system doesn’t end here, of course. The Vitter case, in which the Republican was identified as being a client of prostitutes, is a supreme example of how one politician can get away with worse actions, while another is forced to resign his seat over less.

In the end, the level of your debauchery doesn’t determine whether you will stay alive politically. It’s about getting caught with your hand in the forbidden candy jar.

As one political writer blogged: “Dealing with Republicans and conservatives is like trying to hand feed a Great White shark with a liberal pork chop. Once you dip or tweet your arm into that murky water, there’s a 99.9 percent chance that you will rise up with only a shoulder left attached! That’s just the nature of this business!”

The irony is that the GOP couldn’t care less about the Democrat Weiner’s tweets. Vitter did much worse, but was not forced to resign. In a political shark pool, you get eaten and spat out, which is exactly what happened to Weiner.

He has no one to blame but himself. He handed his opponents a chance to euthanize him on a silver plate. Years of establishing his reputation as a straight shooter with a backbone washed away over phallic pathology, over that Freudian need to be “larger” than life.

What a waste of a political future. All I can say is he is not the first man in power to let his manly needs cloud his judgment and ruin his career, and he won’t be the last.

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