March 11 2008
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, NJ: The hardworking, very successful Governor of New York State, Eliot Spitzer, had been known as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” for his successful prosecutions of wrongdoers. He was also a staunch advocate for the disabled and their rights in almost every area, although not many people knew about this. Now, he has committed what most political analysts see as a career-killer mistake; sex with a prostitute and allegations of money laundering, not to mention violation of the Mann Act which means he may have a Federal offense as part of the mix.
How, people are asking, can such a successful, powerful and extremely wealthy man come to such a sorry point in his life? If we look at all the incredible blunders involved in this encounter, it would seem a trained attorney, former prosecutor and now governor, would never have been so inept. But men in his position aren’t thinking rationally and I believe that’s what happened to Mr. Spitzer.
Consider the number of setbacks Mr. Spitzer had recently in his short tenure as governor. The newspapers will carry them in full detail and it’s not the news, but the psychological rationale that I’m seeking. I believe the Governor was incredibly stressed and in that type of situation people often do irrational, uncharacteristic things. Certainly, registering at a D.C. hotel name in the name of a friend and using your own New York City address doesn’t make sense. Neither does moving money to banks when you know that banks alert the IRS to such movements. Spitzer knows the legal system intimately and yet he acted as a neophyte might. I can only think, as a psychologist looking at the situation, that he wasn’t thinking rationally.
We’ve seen this before as in the case of a highly respected jurist whose career came to a sorry end when he began stalking a woman. He did a number of unthinkable things that could only have resulted in his being caught. This was a man who everyone regarded as brilliant and a possible candidate for the Supreme Court. It was later learned that he suffered from depression and was on medication at the time he became involved in this irrational activity.
Stress can result in the most unthinkable actions and we have to consider this in the case of Eliot Spitzer. His past record deserves, in my opinion, no less.
Dr. Farrell is the author of “How to Be Your Own Therapist” (Barnes & Noble, 2007, ISBN: 0-7607-9184-8), a licensed psychologist and medical disability consultant. She has appeared on major TV shows such as The Today Show, The View, Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper 360 and is quoted in national newspapers, magazines and news services. Her website is: http://www.drfarrell.net where she provides information for consumers.
Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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