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Entries in Anthony Weiner (6)

Wednesday
Jul272011

Internet Regrets Hit One in Five Americans Who Post on Social Media

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The ease and speed of a quick Tweet or Facebook post frequently translates into embarrassment, according to 18 percent of Americans in a new poll of social media users who say they have tech regret for something they have posted online.

Verbal or photographic misfires are so moritifying that half of all polled users on Facebook and Twitter said that the social media networks do more harm than good, according to the survey by Marist College in New York.

On a fateful night in May, disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York accidentially tweeted public a lewd image he meant to be private. Weiner's simple mistake, which exposed a pattern of innapropriate online behavior that torpedoed his political career, may be an extreme example of "wish-I-never-posted-that" -- but he is not alone.

Despite having grown up with computers and social media sites, the younger generation seems to have the most to be sorry for. The Marist survey found that 24 percent of users under 45 wish they could take back something they said or put online.

There's also a notable gender divide. Men seem to regret posting more often than women. Twenty-one percent of guys say they sent something they wish they didn't, compared with 15 percent of women.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Rep. Weiner May Feel Symptoms of Grief After Resignation

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While the jury is still out on whether just-resigned Rep. Anthony Weiner is addicted to sexting and other lewd Internet behavior, experts say his fall from grace may take a toll on his mental health, addiction or not.

Weiner, 46, announced his resignation on Thursday, 10 days after the news conference where he admitted to lying about sexual behavior with strangers, including a former porn actress, through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Weiner's crotch shot seen 'round the world was the first of dozens of photos he shared with online strangers to surface.  After he admitted to sending the initial photo at a news conference, political leaders across party lines pressured the congressman to resign.

"The extent to which this might impact an individual depends a great deal on their personal coping resources, personal support system and overall resilience in the context of their pre-event psychological make-up," said Dr. Martin Binks, clinical director and CEO of Binks Behavioral Health.

Binks said the theme of loss may play a part in Weiner's decline and possible recovery, especially if there is a loss of respect and reputation that may play a large role in his sense of self-worth.

"The fall from grace can be far more devastating if one's sense of self relies too heavily on these external factors," said Binks.  "In other cases, where something that is seen as out of one's personal control causes personal and emotional devastation, we fall back on the love and support of those closest to us to be our staunchest allies.  These close personal supports are the rock in our emotional foundation."

Binks noted that when that devastation alienates a person's support system, as could possibly have happened in Weiner's case with his wife Huma Abedin, he may lose that support, and the feelings of loss and grief can become amplified.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun132011

Rep. Anthony Weiner in Treatment: Is Sex Addiction Real?

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Embattled New York Rep. Anthony Weiner says he is on a quest to redeem himself. One of his first steps toward redemption is seeking treatment, but therapists disagree over whether Weiner is really suffering from an illness like sex addiction or an inflated ego.

"I've made some pretty serious mistakes and I need to redeem myself and I'm working hard to try to get back to normal," said Weiner, a Democrat.

Weiner's decision to seek help did not give him a reprieve from the growing scandal. Top Democrats continue to call for his resignation and TMZ released new photos showing Weiner posing provocatively at the Congressional members-only gym.

"[Sex addiction has] become something that's sort of thrown around as a way to kind of make yourself more vulnerable, a little less to blame. And if you're getting a lot of public negative opinions, it's not uncommon to see these public figures say, 'oops sorry, I'm really a sex addict. I'm not just a serial cheater…I'm not just exercising poor judgment, I'm ill here,'" said Dr. Laura Berman, host of The Dr. Laura Berman Show on OWN.

Berman said that Weiner's lack of self esteem may be behind his sexting scandal.

"A lot of low self esteem, a low sense of self worth, ego needing that constant feedback because he was interacting with women saying, here's my naked body. Am I really sexy, am I really attractive? You're 24 years old. Do you find me sexy…He needed that feedback all day long," she said.

Weiner is following in some well known footsteps by seeking treatment. Hollywood star David Duchovny and golf phenom Tiger Woods both entered similar treatment facilities. Although Woods' revelations of infidelity became tabloid headlines for months, Duchovny and his wife Tea Leoni maintained there was no "other woman" behind his decision to enter rehab.

There's broad debate among experts and the public whether sex addiction is a real illness.

"It's not to say that sex addiction doesn't exist," Berman said. "I think in some cases it does, but not nearly to the degree that it's being proclaimed or diagnosed. People who are sex addicted are not in the driver's seat... They are engaging in extremely risky behaviors either putting them at physical or legal risk... It's like an intense compulsion." An estimated 14 million Americans or roughly one in every 17 adults claim to have a sex addiction.

"We're not talking about people who just like a lot of sex. We're talking about individuals where sex controls their lives," said Dr. Charles Samenow, a psychiatrist and professor at George Washington University.

The internet and social networking provides an easy way for sex addicts to act on their temptation, experts said.

"It allows for early access, affordable access and anonymous access," Samenow said. "The Internet has caused a huge boom in our business. Unfortunately...it's the crack cocaine of sex addiction."

Berman said that couples should talk about internet etiquette when it comes to cyber cheating.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun082011

Anthony Weiner: Frat Boy Behavior or Deeper Problems?

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amid calls for his resignation, New York Rep. Anthony Weiner's political problems grow. And so do questions about the powerful Democratic congressman's risky sexting habit: Is it wayward frat boy behavior or a sign of deeper problems?

At a Monday news conference, Weiner, 46, cried and confessed to having online affairs with six women in the past three years, apologizing to his wife, Huma Abedin, 34, who is Hillary Clinton's closest aide.

Psychologists say that when impulsive habits such as sexting, masturbating and viewing online pornography are repetitive, they can signal deeper problems.

Dr. Martin Kafka, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, an affiliate of McLean Hospital, said adults who have impulse control problems with sex often have "psychiatric vulnerabilities."

Weiner's sexting had become a problem for him months before he was caught -- literally -- with his pants down. Three months ago, the Twitter group #born-freecrew warned young female followers of Weiner about his salacious messages, according to a report Wednesday in The New York Times.

The group's leader sent the crotch shot that Weiner sent to 21-year-old Washington State college student Gennette Cordova to conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who made it public. But as early as May, the group predicted he would be caught in a sex scandal. In at least two instances, according to the Times, Weiner dropped online contact with the women after they had been identified by #born-freecrew, suggesting he knew he was at risk.

Risky behavior goes hand in hand with the inability to control ones impulses, behavior that can be problematic enough to be called a psychological disorder, say experts.

Impulse control is a part of the larger biological and behavioral system known as self-regulation, according to Lawrence Aber, distinguished professor of applied psychology and public health policy at New York University.

"Our food intake and control over our sexual impulses are all part of it," he said. "It's plan-ful behavior and begins early in life and there are many parts of the brain implicated."

Impulse control or self-regulation is centered in the prefrontal cortex or the thinking part of the brain, which controls intentional behavior.

Impulse control is "self-reinforcing," Aber said. Those who learn to practice it when they are younger get better at it as adults. But, as the recent sex scandals illustrate, adult behavior can be "virtuous or vicious."

By age 5, a child should be able to delay gratification for a larger reward, rather than expect immediate gratification for a small reward, Aber said. Children vary quite a bit and much depends on the "quality of parenting," he said. But socializing techniques such as teaching them to think "cool-ly and abstractly" can also help reign in impulses.

But, in adolescence, a whole new set of impulses kick in, "from sex to drugs to rock and roll," Aber said. "There are a number of underlying biological changes with hormones and marketing consumption."

Now, with the advent of brain imaging, scientists know that the prefrontal cortex does not fully form until a person is in his or her mid-20s.

An adult is often fine for 20 or 30 years and then develops one of the degenerative conditions of aging and can lose self-regulation. Certain forms of drug use -- Parkinson's disease medications, for example -- can trigger gambling addictions. Brain lesions can also affect impulses.

Psychiatrist Kafka, who has not treated Weiner, said that those who exhibit repetitive impulse control problems -- "guys who look at porn, masturbate a lot and expose themselves" -- rather than a single incident often have an underlying psychiatric disorder.

When these men eventually get to a psychiatrist, they are diagnosed with mood disorders, attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or have abused drugs or alcohol.

Weiner was adamant that he hasn't had a physical relationship outside of his marriage and some of his constituents have said they are less concerned about his sexting habits than his lies about them.

But Kafka said compulsive sex habits cannot be explained as just rogue behavior that somehow extends late into adulthood.

"I am sure someone may differ with me," Kafka said. "But I don't think it's just a personality thing. I always see it as pathology....Usually, it's a mistreated psychiatric disorder, not a character disorder."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun082011

Weiner's Wife Still Supports Him, Tries to Salvage His Career

Dimitrios Kambouris/VF11/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Huma Abedin, devastated, but still committed to her husband New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, has told friends she hopes to help him survive the sexting scandal amidst calls for his resignation.

Weiner confessed Monday to lying about sending a photo of his crotch via Twitter to 21-year-old Seattle college student Gennette Cordova and five other women in the last three years.

Friends say that Abedin, who is a top aide to Hillary Clinton, did know that Weiner had a "problem" before their marriage, but he promised he was past that.

Weiner, 46, and Abedin, 34, have only been married 11 months.

Abedin, say friends and colleagues, still believes she can salvage his political career and wants to help him do that. Friends say she has been leaning on and getting advice from her boss, Hillary Clinton, and her sister.

Abedin left Wednesday night for the Middle East with Clinton and has been by her side constantly. Efforts by ABC News to reach her for comment have been unsuccessful.

The friends say that although she has been looking anguished, Abedin has otherwise not wavered in her high-intensity job as Clinton's closest aide. They added that the secretary of state and Abedin are equally devastated by the scandal.

Weiner, himself, told reporters Monday, "We have no intention of splitting over this. We have been through a lot together. We will weather this. I love her. She loves me."

"He's in deep, deep trouble," said Judy Kuriansky, a psychologist who specializes in relationships and teaches at Teachers College, Columbia University.

"This is really horrendous -- this puts her in an extremely compromised position," said Kuriansky. "Whatever she decides to do, I believe she is consulting with Hillary."

"To my mind, psychologically, she has other people to please and this happens with other wives," she said. "You must take that into account."

The Weiners have no children, which may shape Abedin's ultimate decision, according to Kuriansky.

"Whether there are children involved and the length of the marriage, those are the really big ones," she said. "There is the real world and the economic bargain. But I don't think that's a problem here. She has her own life and has her own career and money."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun072011

Are Anthony Weiner's Online Trysts Adultery?

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Although there may not have been any physical contact between Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. and the women with whom he confessed to having inappropriate online relationships, some psychologists consider the married congressman's conduct as nothing short of adultery.

"Nonphysical sexting relationships are similar to emotional affairs that are highly sexualized," said Nadine Kaslow, a psychology professor at Emory University in Atlanta.

"Technology has opened up whole new avenues for cheating," said psychotherapist Bethany Marshall. "The motivation is the same, but the pathway is different."

Weiner attributed his behavior to "terrible judgment and actions," and he apologized to his wife.

"I should not have done this, and I should not have done this particularly when I was married," Weiner said at a press conference.

Philadelphia psychologist Marion Rudin Frank calls online relationships "betrayal[s] of the partner" and says people who engage in them often believe there is no risk involved if there is no sex. Weiner and others who get involved in online relationships often do so because of a need for quick and casual sex, experts say. People often carry on multiple affairs and engage in compulsive sexting because that desire for sexual satisfaction becomes like an addiction.

"It can be and usually is addictive and actually out chemistry," said Frank. "Like any addiction, it is self-defeating. [A person] cannot do just a little, and it makes people act in ways they regret."

"Online porn addictions and compulsive sexting are quite linked, as they often relate to sex that is objectifying and not very personal," said Kaslow.

"Social media often makes us less mindful of our actions because we think that if it is in cyberspace it doesn't count as much or we are less likely to be found out or held accountable for our actions," said Kaslow.

Sites like Facebook and other social networking sites make relationships seem less daunting, since they eliminate the need for physical and emotional intimacy, Kaslow said. Texting and other types of online contact often lead to what she calls "faux intimacy."

"We are more prone to lie to ourselves [and say] 'It's not really action,'" said Frank.

In the end, though, experts say relationships carried out on social media sites are very likely to be uncovered.

"I am deeply sorry that I lied about this, but at the end of the day, I lied because I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of what I had done and I didn't want to get caught," Weiner admitted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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