What Was Spitzer Thinking?

Experts wonder why smart guys do really stupid things
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2008 10:55 AM CDT
With his wife Silda Wall Spitzer holding the car door, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer arrives at his Fifth Avenue apartment, Monday, March 10, 2008, in New York. Spitzer, the crusading politician who built...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Eliot Spitzer's reported involvement with a pricey call-girl ring has left, well, everyone scratching their heads, the AP reports. What makes a public figure show such jaw-dropping disregard for the consequences of private actions? One analyst calls it "the psychology of the exception. People in power sometimes feel they can do things that us, mere mortals, are forbidden to do. There's a sense, as with adolescents, that 'I won't get caught.'"

 Another notes this behavior can be a product of either compulsion or simple hubris. "It could be both—they're not mutually exclusive," he says. "Now that would be a really fatal cocktail." "Often the behavior in question is caused by intense anxiety, stress in the workplace or home," says another doc. "They compartmentalize to the extent that they don't feel any sense of shame or guilt—until they get caught."