Friday, March 21, 2008

“The Eliot Spitzer Syndrome.”

During past weeks, New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer, the one-time "Sheriff" of Wall Street -- who campaigned on a promise to clean up state politics -- became embroiled in a sex scandal that forced his resignation. The man’s mighty fall is everywhere in the news, as are photos of his distressed and spaced out wife, whom, with his truly innocent children, we are told to pity.

According to a recent in depth New Yorker article, Spitzer was a cruel and unlovable character. He screamed at employees, was arrogant and outrageously demanding to those who served under him. What do those who touted him as a potential presidential candidate project he would be like if he had virtually unlimited power? One look at his face, trained from childhood in issuing commands, tells everything -- just as close observation of Senator McCain tells us what would happen to our nation were he to assume command. Beware.

Newsweek published a photo of Spitzer's old, benign looking parents. His mother, hunched and tiny, could not have been the source of torture to her infant son. Yeah, right. His father looked benign. The story was -- the extent of pressure on young Eliot was word games around the dinner table. Common sense and life experience tells us his pathology inescapably grows from much worse.

As Attorney General Spitzer extensively pursued and put behind bars the very same kind of people he was caught employing for his pleasure. I don't say sexual pleasure, because I'm not quite sure what acts pleased this hypocrite. Many of us would not classify them as sex.

According to federal records Spitzer met a prostitute named “Kristin” in the historic D.C. Mayflower Hotel. Franklin Roosevelt is said to have put the finishing touches on his 1933 Inaugural Address (“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”) one floor below their historic encounter. After midnight Kristin reported to her “dispatcher” that Spitzer had paid $4,300, including a down payment toward the next. Though the dispatcher had warned her that Spitzer had been known to “ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe,” she reported that the encounter “had gone fine,” and reminded the dispatcher that she knew how to “take care of herself.”

It does real harm to our society to pretend, as the Newsweek article does, that a social monster like Spitzer can be formed by merely pressuring a child. Spitzer hid his pervosity well -- there was even talk that he might run for president. But one does not pay $4,000 an hour for petting, and a few minutes of intercourse. Something vile and unreported must have -- MUST HAVE -- happened in Spitzer's early childhood that he needed to routinely re-create with young women, not his wife, for hire. In spite of what Jay Leno might think, Spitser's acts were not about sexual hunger.

If you are curious about what transpired that was not “safe” for the young professional woman, you could find out by having been a fly on the wall while the infant Spitzer was in his mother’s care. I believe the desire in a certain kind of man to torture and/or abuse a young woman arises from his early encounters with his mother. It would do Spitzer absolutely no good were he able to perform the same acts with a powerful woman near his own age. No doubt his wife would not let him, and she is no longer young. These acts are not sexual. They are about getting even

My old friend, Julie Motz, contributed the following statement (slightly rewritten by me) to the New York Times blog about Spitzer:

“Ex-Governor Spitzer's dilemma - like that of Bill Clinton in his dealings with Monica Lewinsky - represents a sad attempt to heal his sexual abuse history by acting it out in a way doomed to become public. If those victimized by childhood sexual abuse realized that it is the engine driving this kind of sexual, compulsive act – then their need to have it come out into the open could lead to profound healing of the wound.”

I've known Julie for over 40 years and in that time she has grown into one of the most advanced thinkers in the field. She's had an enormous influence on my ability to become painfully aware of my history, and use my growing freedom from the past to inform others. So many of us have been abused in our early childhood and have mistakenly buried it. Who among us was not beaten as a child? Abuse is so common that when we see powerful men acting out in insanely destructive ways we attribute it to some failure in their character.

There is no unconscious failure operating here. Spitzer knew what he was doing. He desperately needed whatever interaction he was paying so much for. I have experienced insanely destructive behavior, so I know. It feels as if an unnamable impulse is driving you. Some remote part of your mind knows that what you're doing is crazy, but response to the impulse brings a sense of excitement and pleasure. I don't do drugs but I suppose it’s like taking that first hit of cocaine after six months being sober. The experience of breaking the rules is thrilling and you delude yourself that this time it will be different, though you really know you are in for a long spiral down.

What we must learn to accept is that the educated and thoughtful conscious of a 50-year-old is no match for the underlying, primitive unconscious drives of the two or three year old who is really running things.

That's right readers --the perverted crap that was done to you that you don't remember, that happened before you could speak, may be what is running you. It is the conflict between these two parts of his psyche: the present and conscious, and the primitive and unthinking, that drives men like Spitzer to be violently aggressive, hateful and enraged at those about them. They then turn the rage on themselves in consciously destructive ways.

Julie goes on to write, “In my practice as a healer I see this kind of tragic behavior all too often. Bringing the sufferer to an awareness of his past, rather than merely judging him is the key to transforming this. Hopefully we won't need too many more public scandals of this nature to wake people up. Prostitution like pornography is a demand-side, not a supply-side problem. The way to end the demand is to recognize the childhood wound underlying it and address that.”

Spitzer needs to be in a form of nonverbal therapy which will allow him to relive the forgotten torture of his early childhood, lodged in his unconscious, which has virtually destroyed his career. Julie’s simple but profound ideas, if put into practice would transform our society.

In a recent Los Angeles Times article, Josh Meyer writes that were it not for the suspicious financial transactions Spitzer allegedly orchestrated to pay for his trysts -- like nearly all clients of high-priced call girl services, he probably would never have been caught. Authorities don't have the resources or manpower to go after ultra-expensive prostitution rings like Emperors’ Cub. Conviction would require elaborate undercover operations.

But the Patriot Act has recently equipped the government with the right to look at bank records for unusual money movements. Those involved in qualifying practices go on a watch list. A serious of coincidences, described in the Newsweek article, around transfers of money, which looked superficially like laundering, gave the alarm. Had Spitzer been content to withdraw a few thousand dollars in cash and pay with this, he would never have been caught.

The article quotes a Detective Mark Gilky, who ran an undercover storefront operation in Washington D.C., in which police were able to see credit card receipts (who but a madman would use a credit card to pay for illicit acts?) for various prostitution rings, including the names and the invoices. "It was shocking," he said. "The amounts of money were staggering and the people involved were movie stars, celebrities, well-known political people and star athletes.

But in the sting that followed the client’s names never became public. "It's a circle you have to be in," Gilky said, "where there is trust and you're introduced into the network personally." The 47 page criminal complaint and affidavit filed against the alleged leaders of the Emperor's Club provides a richly detailed understanding of how these games are played.

There is a powerful coincidence between prostitution and politics -- sex, money, and power are overwhelmingly exciting to many. To understand how certain men run amok, we must accept that their intelligent, thinking wives, women like Silda Wall Spitzer and Hillary, knew on some level from day one what kind of devil they were hooking up with. Internally motivated, profoundly disturbing drives cannot be hidden past the first few dates.

Silda gave up a high-powered career as a corporate lawyer to raise three daughters and support her husband as he sought elective office. Time and again, she found herself encouraging him during critical junctures in his public life, while regretting that he had chosen to put their family in such an unpleasant place. In 1994, after Spitzer made his first, unsuccessful run for New York State Attorney General, his wife told a former colleague from the world of corporate law, “Well, now he can go back and get a real job.”

According to friends, the governor’s time in Albany exacted a profound psychic cost from Silda, who was not able to embrace her role as first lady. “I think the whole period of his governorship hasn’t fit her,” a friend of the Spitzers said. “It strained the marriage.” I'll say.

Denial runs deep. A day after she learned that federal investigators had identified Spitzer as a customer of a high-priced prostitution ring, Silda urged him not to resign. Friends of the pair said that they believed she took that stance because she was not aware that the government complaint against the prostitution ring stemmed from an I.R.S. inquiry involving Spitzer’s bank records.

A few days later, as allegations exploded across front pages and television screens, the couple sought the advice of colleagues and friends. Many were reportedly flabbergasted, but as a group supported Silda's idea that her husband should not resign. He promptly did, quite likely because he knew things that his family and friends did not.

Silda is as profoundly in need of the right kind of therapy as her husband, because she must suffer from similar emotional disturbances. We marry what is familiar to us, even though it be disguised. She has been described as the only person whose approval he values so much that she has even been able to take the edge off his abrasive, often hateful style. A Harvard educated lawyer, she quit prestigious and high-paying jobs in 1994, the year the youngest of their three daughters was born, and the year of her husband’s first run for attorney general. This woman believed in her man. Grateful or not, his needs finally overpowered him.

The two met as students at Harvard Law School and were married in 1987. Silda grew up in Concord, N.C., population of 20,000, and a graduated from Baptist women’s school in her home state. In 2006, she said that one of the things that had always attracted her to her husband was his “close relationship with his parents.” “I can always tell when Eliot is talking to his mother or his father on the phone,” she told friends. “He just sounds different.”

I cannot imagine a more disingenuous statement. It reminds one of the Stockholm Syndrome and we are not sure just how he sounds different. My father's whole personality changed profoundly around his mother, in a way that confused the hell out of me as a youngster. I have learned these kind of dramatic behavior changes give clues about the infant's psyche. The answer to that "difference" would teach us quite a bit about what brought Spitzer to this pass. After years of torture oftentimes the victim develops a kind of attraction and fascination with the torturer.

Since Spitzer began his term in Albany, his wife has lived in New York City, where their teenage daughters attend school. In 2006, when Silda showed a reporter around their apartment on Fifth Avenue, she proudly declared that only artwork made by members of the immediate family was allowed to hang on the walls.

One multicolored drip painting, in a den that the family calls the Adirondack Room, had been signed “Spitzer Wall,” because the two of them painted it together early in their courtship. “Eliot and I had been to the Whitney and were looking at a Jackson Pollack, and he said, ‘I could do that,’ ” Silda said, imitating the braggadocio tone that brought him into the governorship, taught to him no doubt by his father. “So I said, ‘Let’s see you try,’ and then I helped him.”

Oh, the arrogance – the unbelievable, clueless arrogance of such people.

It might be helpful to briefly examine here some other sex scandals involving politicians in the United States. For every one who has been caught there are probably five others in the closet.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig was publicly admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for improper conduct after his arrest in a sex-sting operation in a men's toilet in June 2007. He then famously appeared in public, with his goggled, groggy wife, to announce that he was not gay.

The confused fellow unwisely had pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after he was caught in an undercover investigation of lewd behavior in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. His guilt must've gotten the best of his common sense because the police didn't have a case. He later tried to recant saying, he had agreed to a misdemeanor charge without consulting a lawyer and in hopes of quickly disposing of the case. We are not well served when a man like this remains in the Senate.

Louisiana Senator David Vader, a famous conservative, apologized and admitted "a very serious sin" after he was linked last July to a Washington escort service. Vitter said his misdeeds occurred several years previously and he had dealt with them in "confession and marriage counseling." He remains in the Senate. Good man. Confession and marriage counseling, that's the trick to dealing with ancient wounds when they blindside you.

There is no conventional counseling which will deal with the deep, unending drives controlling Senator Vitter. The man lives in hell on earth. One of the more dangerous notions is that being religious and "confessing" is part of a cure. These wounds remain and will torture the fellow the rest of his life, unless he does something about them.

Mark Foley, from Florida, famously resigned from the House of Representatives in 2006 after it was disclosed he had sent sexually explicit text messages to teenage boys who served as interns in the House. Many believe he did more than that with these young fellows. The revelations of misconduct led to charges that Republican leaders tried to cover up the matter.

New Jersey Governor James McGreevey stepped down in 2004 over a gay affair with a totally unqualified man whom he hired in 2002 to head the state's Homeland Security department. Here we see how blindness to what lurks in our unconscious endangers the society around us.

McGreevey's wife, who claimed she knew nothing of his homosexuality when she married him, now says she believes that the only reason he married her was because he needed a wife and children in order to become elected. Does she want us believe that she didn't suspect from the first day that there was something odd about the fellow? She looks intelligent, happy and liberated on television, but were she able to reveal the early paralleling situation in her childhood, it would help many women who "mistakenly" marry the "wrong" guy.

President Bill Clinton apparently had sexual relationships while he was married and in public life, with perhaps dozens of women. In this he was not different from other high placed men before him. His relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky, then 21, led to impeachment after accusations he lied about it under oath. The only proof was an inconsequential bit ejaculate on her dress. A man who did not wish to be caught would have destroyed it. Clinton survived impeachment and was able to serve out his term -- but his presidency, which ended in 2001, was badly damaged.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted he was having an extramarital affair while leading the impeachment charge in Congress against Clinton. The word hypocrite has no meaning in the higher levels of government and business. It's whatever you can get away with.

Senator Bob Packwood, from Oregon, resigned in 1995 after 26 years in Congress. He had been accused of sexual misconduct with 17 women, among other charges.

Representative Barney Frank, from Massachusetts, who is homosexual, was reprimanded in 1990 after it was learned that one of his lovers had run a prostitution ring out of his Washington apartment. Things do get curious, just like in "Alice in Wonderland."

Senator Gary Hart, from Colorado, saw his second presidential bid end in 1987 when it was learned he spent the night on a yacht, the Monkey Business, with a woman not his wife. Prior to this he had blatantly demonstrated willingness to have sex with party girls and professionals, as often as he could. These guys do this until they get caught. So one must examine the role "getting caught" plays in their life.

Representative Dan Crane, from Illinois, and Representative Jerry Studds, from Massachusetts, were censured in 1983 for illicit affairs with underage pages. It's amazing they didn't go to jail. But high office has its privileges. Crane, who had had sex with a teenage girl, was voted out of office -- but Studds, who had had an affair with a boy, was returned to office many times. Some American constituencies are willing to overlook the odd statutory rape or two.

Representative Wilbur Mills, from Arkansas and chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was caught in 1974 with stripper Fanne Foxe, who performed as "the Argentine firecracker." Foxe leapt from Mills' limousine after it was stopped by police and jumped into the Tidal Basin. In those relatively unenlightened days, Mills rescued himself by going into treatment for alcoholism and retired two years later.

Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham, from Rancho Santa Fe, a genuine and famous war hero, was plied with prostitutes by private contractors seeking government contracts. But that only came out during his lengthy prosecution on unrelated corruption charges. Hero or not he went to jail.

Dick Morris, a top adviser to President Clinton, resigned from his reelection campaign in 1996 after a tabloid newspaper published photographs of him with an elite prostitute on a Washington hotel balcony.

Randall Tobias, the top foreign aid advisor in the State Department, resigned two years ago after acknowledging that he patronized the elite escort services of "D. C. Madam" Deborah Palfrey. After federal authorities charged palfrey with operating a prostitution ring, she threatened to disclose the names of potentially thousands of wealthy influential and famous clients.

"The tentacles of this matter reach far, why and high into the echelons of power in the United States," Palfrey wrote in one court filing, vowing to subpoena all of her customers in an effort to prove that her employees provided only legal massage services. That scandal quickly went away.

In Los Angeles, a succession of Beverly Hills and Hollywood Madams has kept the press busy, and the American public titillated, throughout much of the 20th century. And as mentioned above, in Washington several high-ranking congressmen have been caught having relationships with women, or men, half their age in exchange for money, favors or ghost jobs.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was observed and recorded by the FBI in flagrante with women not his wife. This has had no effect on his deification.

Senator John McCain was apparently unfaithful to his first wife with his second, before he divorced one and married the other.

And lest we forget, our beloved President Roosevelt, General Eisenhower, and perhaps dozens of other officials had mistresses and girlfriends, leading up to the great womanizers of them all, John F. and Robert Kennedy. In this they were brilliantly imitating their father. One observes what effect a hyper religious Catholic mother has on such young men.

What are we to make of this not so hidden tragic flaw in our society?

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