Reportedly, Harvey Weinstein is off to sex rehab.
Maybe that is true or maybe he is on a vacation at some resort. Whatever it is, there is something amiss here.
First, addict is a misleading word.
Many in my field have mixed feelings about that word. It implies that he had no control. It also implies that the center issue was around a lack of control over his sexual impulses. I don’t believe that was the central issue!
The DSM 5, which basically is like the “bible” of the mental health field doesn’t have sexual additions as a diagnosis.. AASECT- the official association of sex therapists (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists) clarified its position that sex addiction is not clinically meaningful.
It claims AASECT:
1) does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and
2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge,” the organization wrote. There are for sure people who have problems with sexual compulsions and there is indeed debate within the profession on the AASECT’s position, but many sex therapists believe that it is not a useful diagnosis—particularly when it is used as a get-out-of-jail-free card for behavior that is harmful to others.
The problem is multifaceted as I see it when it comes to Harvey Weinstein for the following reasons:
1) Feminists would say (and I would agree) that there is still the old sociocultural stance that men are entitled and women need to serve men. That is why so many more women than men are victims of sexual harassment.
2) He had the power and money to keep women quiet. Therefore he had few if any deterrents.
3) He has some kind of neurobiological/psychological inner wiring that leaves him with no empathy.
These women were not considered from him as people in their own right. They were there for him to control and manipulate. There is a tremendous entitlement here. I will forego the DSM 5 definition of narcissism and instead type in something my wife sent me when I asked about synonyms for a narcissist (I was playing around with possible titles for this article). Here is what she sent me:
Words used to define narcissism
The following have been used to define someone with a narcissistic disorder:
self-centered, egotistical, arrogant, superior, demanding, grandiose, manipulative, liar, selfish, power-hungry, greedy, emotional vampires, sneaky, deceitful, wants to be center of attention, huge sense of entitlement, fascinated with themselves, vain, smug, excessive self-love, risk-takers, need to be admired, zero tolerance of criticism, cocky, impulsive, obsessed with self, ambitious, aggressive, temperamental, dominating, full of rage, conceited, childish, wants instant gratification, ruthless, cruel, sadistic and a complete lack of empathy.
Does the shoe fit? I say it does.
Harvey Weinstein was and is dangerous because people exist (to him) for his own gratification. I would even say that his sexual gratification was probably secondary to the “high” he felt from the power he experienced while being so aggressive with these women.
This is an abuse of power, no less than a spouse who physically abuses his partner. This kind of entitlement and grandiosity usually is a cover-up for shame of being a once vulnerable child whose needs were not met. I have to put a disclaimer here- I do not know about his past family history.
However, it is probably safe to say that there is some ‘part’ of Harvey Weinstein that feels quite powerless and vulnerable. His behavior could be seen as a defense against this vulnerable needy part and these women were used to bolster that defense.
The only good news here is that these stories coming out can be another wake up call to society.
Women (as well as some men) can be targets of this kind of sexual harassment and of course some work cultures are more at risk than others. I would say that the entertainment industry could be a higher risk for these types of abuses. However, this can happen in any industry and in any business, university, etc. where there is a power hierarchy.
The best way to protect oneself is with knowledge that these personality disorders do exist in a small but significant fraction of people.
I understand why it was so difficult for these women to come out earlier. My hope is that society continues to shift in the direction of making it easier emotionally for these victims to talk and expose their experience earlier.
Nobody should be used as a pawn in another’s maladaptive psychological defense systems.