The Clinton Syndrome: The President and the Self-Destructive Nature of Sexual Addiction

Levin Ph.D., Jerome

Published by Prima Lifestyles
ISBN 10: 076151628X / ISBN 13: 9780761516286
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Synopsis: At a time when Bill Clinton should be carving out his place in history, he instead has been forced once again to defend himself against charges of sexual misconduct. The charges, along with the accompanying allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice, threaten to destroy all that he has lived his life to accomplish. Is he, as his defenders assert, the victim of political enemies determined to bring him down? Or can the forces driving Bill Clinton to the precipice of self-destruction be found in the darkness of his own psyche?
In this provocative book, Dr. Jerome Levin, a leading addictions expert and a respected psychotherapist at the prestigious New School for Social Research in New York City, digs deep into Bill Clinton's past and discovers a pattern of tawdry and destructive relationships consistent with classic sexual addiction. Dr. Levin traces the seeds of Clinton's addiction back to a childhood haunted by emotional disloyalty and confusion. We watch this future president grow to adulthood, excelling through his wits, but remaining emotionally bound to the chaos of his youth. We follow his political rise as we observe his growing need to take greater and more dangerous risks to satisfy his insatiable appetites.
By comparing Clinton's outrageous behavior against the backdrop of classic sexual addiction, Dr. Levin offers all Clinton watchers a closely reasoned and compelling portrait of one of the most enigmatic, complex, and driven men of our time.

Review: Isn't it funny that when we were children, our parents used to tell us that it didn't matter what other people said about us, but whenever some new story emerges about Bill Clinton's sexual conduct, people rush to be the first to announce that his bad reputation will set off a national crisis?

Unpacking the assumptions from Jerome Levin's The Clinton Syndrome takes some doing. First, of course, there's the assumption that all of the allegations about Clinton's behavior--from before Gennifer Flowers up to and including Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Monica Lewinsky--are true. Then there's the assumption that these incidents--which of course are all true, and all occurred just as Clinton's detractors describe them--are indicative of "sexual addiction." Of course, in order to make that assumption, Levin first has to assume that sexual addiction is a real condition, a matter about which there is still considerable debate, and among the dozen or so assumptions we have to make in order to believe in sexual addiction is that any behavior "at variance with community standards" is not only "damaging to the individual" but evidence of addictive behavior.

Based on these assumptions, we are presented with a psychobiographical portrait of Clinton in which his formative years--raised by a tempestuous, sexually provocative mother and grandmother, forced to deal with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather--lead to a dysfunctional personality that engages in compulsive sex "seeking reassurance and validation of his worth," and that he "had about as much chance of leaving [Monica Lewinsky] alone as a cocaine addict has of passing up a line." Even Clinton's good qualities, such as his empathy and intelligence, are reduced to coping mechanisms that he picked up in order to survive a traumatic childhood marked by "emotional incest." Even if Paula Jones was lying about what happened, Levin tells us, Clinton's refusal to settle the lawsuit was still a denial that his addiction to sex was out of control. It's a vicious circle: Clinton seems to be acting like a sex addict because he is a sex addict, and he's a sex addict because he appears to be acting like a sex addict.

Although Levin claims to analyze the ethical dimensions of the Clinton scandals, as opposed to the moral dimensions (or, in psychoanalytic terms, to view the matter through the "rational" ego rather than the accusing, judgmental superego), the invocation of terms like "community standards" inevitably plunges the discussion into a moral climate. Levin as much as admits that his argument is to some degree a judgment of Clinton's behavior "driven by anger at him for having put a political agenda I support in jeopardy.... I have an emotional investment in the success of the American Experiment, and I care that a president's apparent personal pathology might damage that experimental process." Given that America has been able to weather such "crises" as Abraham Lincoln's depression, Ulysses S. Grant's alcoholism, Theodore Roosevelt's sadistic love of violence, Warren G. Harding's corruption, and what we would now perhaps call JFK's "sexual addiction," all the brouhaha over Bill Clinton--or, more accurately, over other people's opinions about what exactly Bill Clinton might have done--can seem, to borrow a term from psychological circles, hysterical. --Ron Hogan

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Title: The Clinton Syndrome: The President and the ...
Publisher: Prima Lifestyles
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good

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