Once again our politicians have revealed a deep truth human nature–sex and power are a potent and dangerous mix which can lead to a state of temporary 'insanity'.
How else can we explain the phenomena? Governor Mark Sanford's personal catastrophe is but the latest in a string of apparently self-destructive behaviors among our nations most accomplished politicians. It is hardly necessary to invoke the following: Spitzer, Edwards, Clinton, Hart, Patterson etc. etc.
Of course not all self-confessed philanderers have fallen on their sword ie. Clinton, Patterson and the Italian PM Berlusconi seem just fine. How society processes these occurrences can vary from time to time, from society to society.
But what is it about sex and power that seems to lead these individuals to the brink of political and personal suicide?
I believe it is the rush of neuropeptides, perhaps dopamine or some other substance that is released in massive quantities when sex is on the brain that impels our species to 'risk it all'.
Perhaps in Darwinian terms, the most powerful alpha-males were the risk takers, the high achievers, the power brokers of their day and were the ones who mated with the most females.
Perhaps the thrill of risking it all for the pleasure of the encounter literally demolishes the highly rational and calculating aspects of human thought. The planning, strategizing, networking–the intensely rational thought that was required to make it to the top level in all human endeavor–all evaporates when the chance to consummate is near.
But in truth, such activity and its consequences occurs at all levels of society. It is just when the high and mighty succumb, the fall from such heights is that much more dramatic.
Still the message is the same–humans continually struggle with this paradox–we walk the tightrope between reasoned thought and temporary "insanity". The problem is–this excuse is rarely an acceptable one.
We still possess "free will". We are still responsible for our choices. But there is a price to pay for it. Perhpas it is not so "free" afterall.