Why do powerful men cheat? Because they can
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, May 19, 2011 5:23PM EDT
From Bill Clinton to Tiger Woods to countless political leaders in Europe, Arnold Schwarzenegger is just the latest in a list of married celebrities caught in a sex scandal.
And while his affair shocked many, some say with all that power and fame, it's not only predictable that a man like Schwarzenegger would cheat, but highly likely.
Toronto-based clinical psychologist, Dr. Oren Amitay, says men (and women) with power tend to have an overinflated sense of confidence that allows them to think they'll get away with bad behaviour.
"It's not intelligence that's at issue; it's judgment," Amitay told CTV's Canada AM Thursday.
"If you've gotten away for so many years with doing pretty much whatever you want to do with very few consequences, why would you change?
While Schwarzenegger had plenty to risk with his extramarital dalliances -- his marriage, his family, his career and perhaps his legacy --he had also been able to weather similar scandalous storms before.
During Schwarzenegger's campaign for California governor, as many as 15 women stepped forward to allege that the then-actor groped, spanked, or touched them inappropriately.
"And what were the consequences? Nothing," said Amitay.
"So when your needs are so important, when you place your needs above everything else, you're not really thinking of the consequences or anticipating what could happen, or feeling any anxiety around it, because that's not part of your experience."
Amitay says it's worry that prevents most of us from doing naughty things -- the worry about getting caught, the fear of the consequences, of hurting somebody. But when powerful people get away with misdeeds for so long, it's not long before they don't bother to worry at all.
"Certain personalities just don't feel anxiety," he said.
Some of these people, if they were raised with power, get used to having parents or family swoop in and protect them, Amitay says. Others like Schwarzenegger, who is more of a self-made man, probably told themselves as young men that they were going to be a certain kind of personality.
Amitay believes Schwarzenegger is likely in a lot of ways just like Tiger Woods, who risked his family and career for his sexual peccadilloes.
"They've lived their lives being told by everyone around them they're special, they're entitled. ‘You deserve whatever you want; you're that great.' And if you're being told that, why wouldn't you believe it?"