The thing about addiction is that it provides an answer to the question: What was he thinking?
Answer: He wasn’t.
Take our friend Ron, for example. He’s the only person I’ve ever heard of who was able to prevail upon his cardiologist to discharge him 36 hours post-heart attack (for which he received a stent in the cath lab). The cardiologist wasn’t too pleased with him, Ron said.
He drove himself home, stopping at the supermarket on the way to get stuff for the dinner he was then planning to cook for his family. This is very noble, and yes, he’s a responsible guy with a disabled wife who’s unable to shop or cook. But the real reason for his urgency to get out of the hospital? And the reason the cardiologist, I suspect, was particularly displeased?
He needed his cigarettes. (He’s tried everything, by the way, from the gum to the patches to even hypnotism. Nothing works.)
I have a friend who insists that sex addiction is just an excuse that men-behaving-badly use when they get caught. We were talking about Bill Clinton, and I was arguing that, for him, Monica Lewinsky’s thong was like a drink for an alcoholic; like cigarettes for Ron. But now, with DSK and the hotel maid and the French journalist and the Hungarian economist, I’ve decided my friend was right.
Men like this, men who believe their position grants them immunity from consequences, are blinded not by addiction but by power – the ultimate aphrodisiac.
I feel for Ron, in thrall to nicotine. For Strauss-Kahn, in thrall to his own power, I have no sympathy.