Governor’s Admission Highlights Sex Addiction

In an op-ed piece for Forbes, Dr. Patrick Bordeaux, a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and of the Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, wrote that the recent behavior of New York governor Eliot Spitzer was “a classic and tragic case of addictive behavior.”

Dr. Bordeaux wrote that “addiction is born from the search of intense pleasure and the desire to escape the harsh reality of a current situation” and noted that people in the public eye can often get very used to the thrilling rewards derived from their public activities, such as those from landing in newspaper headlines and hearing the cheers of crowds; the release of dopamine is enormous. Consequently, they may find other aspects of their lives far less exciting and may try to seek out those rewards in other behaviors, notably in drugs, gambling or sex. To this end, he compares the former governor to the similar behaviors of rock stars, preachers, actors, and professional athletes.

He notes that “the prefrontal cortex–the part of the brain responsible for making wise decisions and considering the eventual future consequences of a particular behavior–becomes overpowered by the limbic system” meaning the cortex, originally in charge of the pleasure-seeking limbic area, completely loses its ability to control it.

Spitzer’s chances at overcoming this are improved by the support he has from his family, according to Dr. Bordeaux, but he is still at risk for relapse.

Source: Forbes
Date: Mar. 14, 2008

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