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Good Question: Why Do Men In Power Do Dumb Things?

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Arnold Schwarzenegger (credit: AP)

Arnold Schwarzenegger (credit: AP)

Alan Gionet Good Question
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DENVER (CBS4) – “Yeah, everybody’s a hypocrite,” said one woman we talked to downtown.

All of us? There’s good reason to think we have it in us.

“I don’t know what that guy was thinking,” said a man about the recent revelations about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s affair and love child.

Maybe that’s because when we’re not in a position of power and/or wealth we don’t quite get it. “You know what, I would say no to that right now, but you put me in there it’d be a different scenario maybe, I don’t know,” the same man told us about how he could be changed.

“Unfortunately often with positions of power and positions of control there comes a bit of arrogance,” said psychologist Dr. Robert Vitaletti. “A bit of arrogance that says I’m a little bit better than somebody else and when we combine that with the opportunities to get what we want that can be sometimes a very disregarding and disrespectful condition.”

The list of politicians in the hall of shame grows every year. You can add Schwarzenegger’s scandal to the allegations against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, John Edwards’ new legal troubles, the recent scandals involving Sen. John Ensign and Gov.s Eliot Spitzer and Mark Sanford. The list is long, the infractions varied. Some of the allegations are criminal.

“I think ordinary people can relate to the intoxication of power and the intoxication of success,” said Vitaletti. “Sometimes in smaller ways watching a game and your team wins is a great thrill. It’s success, we’ve won, we’ve done it.”

We can joke about their foibles because the imperfect nature of the high and mighty is humanizing to those below. But things aren’t so funny when there are crimes.

Vitaletti says power, like any state of excitement can cloud judgment. He also likens it to intoxication.

“Intoxication tends to put one’s sense of others aside. Tends to put one’s sense of conscious asleep … Indeed they may dismiss the ordinary sense of conscious that the man or woman on the street carries with them and that’s very unfortunate and it’s very dangerous.”

Power, “Carries with it an inability to feel humility. And frankly if there’s any disorder of our time, it is that narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve seen it more in my practice than I think that I’ve ever seen it. I’ve heard of it more than I’ve heard of it.”

Why, we wondered? For one thing he believes the internet is connected.

“Because people are encouraged to look outward, to look not inward, to not ask themselves questions, but to go outward and to demand that others answers their questions.”

Seems we’re having a harder and harder time looking at ourselves. Put us in power and we might look right through a mirror on our behavior. That just might be dangerous.

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