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."