People who think rationally are asking many questions about the recent behavior of Former Congressman Anthony Weiner like:
- Why would he Tweet risqué pictures of himself to people he never met?
- Has he not learned from the example of others who got caught sexting?
- Reporters have asked “How could he be so stupid?”
- Why would he risk losing his career?
- Doesn’t he care about his wife?… or his reputation?
- How could he think he could get away with what he was doing?
- Why would he lie when he was exposed?
- Why didn’t he resign immediately?
- Doesn’t he have any morals?
The reality is that Mr. Weiner most likely was not thinking rationally when he was engaging in this behavior and may possibly be suffering with the mental illness known as Exhibitionism.
What is Exhibitionism?
Exhibitionism is a sexual arousal disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) under the heading of paraphilias. There are two criteria for this disorder:
A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the exposure of one’s genitals to an unsuspecting stranger.
B. The person has acted on these sexual urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.
Sometimes the goal of the exhibitionist is to shock or upset a person and sometimes they fantasize that the person will become sexually aroused by them.
Cause of this disorder is unknown, but believed to be derived from one or more factors such as:
- High levels of testosterone
- Head trauma
- Childhood abuse and trauma
- Deficient social skills
- Gender identity issues.
- Impulsivity or OCD: There is question in the mental health community as to whether this is more of an impulsivity disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
5 Things to Know about Exhibitionism:
- Who is Diagnosed: Most people diagnosed are Caucasian male between the ages of late teens to early twenties. 50% are married.
- When is the Diagnosis Made: People diagnosed by a therapist usually arrive at counseling because they are ordered by a court after an arrest, are experiencing an extreme amount of fear of being “caught” by a partner or family member, have overwhelming guilt and shame, or are being treated for another mental illness such as depression or substance abuse and the exhibitionism is revealed.
- Help is Available: Treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to address thoughts and behaviors, group therapy, couple and family therapy, addiction treatment, medications for mental illness and hormone balance, and in extreme cases surgical castration can be performed.
- Prevention is the Key: Between 20% and 50% of men arrested for exhibitionism are re-arrested within two years. Exhibitionism usually begins in early childhood and research shows that people diagnosed and treated early in life for mental illness have a higher success rate of overcoming and/or managing the illness.
- What should you do if you think you or someone you know may have exhibitionism:
- Find a counselor who is educated and trained in the area of sexual disorders.
- Ask for a free phone consultation before making an appointment
- Ask the counselor questions about exhibitionism and what treatment options they offer.
- Make a commitment to the counseling process to begin the journey to strong mental and emotional health and growth.
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Article Written by Crystal Hollenbeck