General David Petraeus' resignation and admission of an extramarital affair bloody the waters and the news media are in a feeding frenzy. Another powerful man been brought down by having inappropriate sexual behavior with a beautiful younger woman. The answers cover a broad range of speculations from man will be men to powerful men are over sexed. The response that caught my attention is that power is an aphrodisiac. To accept that conclusion tends to indict all powerful men who are loyal to their marriage.
I believe there is another answer that far more powerful and more profound than the need to satisfy an overactive sex drives. To suggest that so many powerful men would risk everything they had achieved solely for sex is a gross over-simplification. The political, social, family and often financial cost at stake just do not make good sense. These powerful men did not reach positions of importance by making senseless decisions and poor judgment.
If we examine this behavior from a wider and a more profound position, other than the surface view of power and sex, we may reach a different conclusion. To understand this behavior as a psycho-dynamic of two individuals in a symbiotic attachment, each living out some unresolved childhood psychological issue may be more productive. The literatures are full with incidences in which sexual activity used to ease hidden and unresolved issues, many from childhood. For instance, we can agree that rape has nothing to do with sex, but everything to do with control and aggression.
Whenever we notice a sexual deviation in adults--such as perversion and fetishism further examination will reveal some experience in the area of fixation in childhood (Freud, 1924). To make the connection I must quote from Freud's principle of psychic determinism or causality which states "consciousness is an exceptional rather than a regular attribute of psychic processes." In other words, we are too often driven by unconscious desires and less by conscious understanding. We all at, one time or another promised ourselves that we will never again do this or that" and find that we repeat the undesirable behavior again and again. Why? It may serve some unconscious needs. Therefore, we should, at least, entertain the idea that the knowledge received by the consciousness of what is happening in daily lives, including sexual behavior, liable to be incomplete, full of gaps, or driven by unconscious (childhood) needs.
In this instance, instead of power and sex, I see it as a symbiotic relationship, an unspoken (unconscious) agreement between two individuals. Symbiosis understood as a disguised representation of a repressed wish or impulse, or a close, often neurotic, attachment of one individual to another. The position that I take on this subject based on certain facts of daily life. For example, it is easy to show that value the mind places on erotic needs instantly diminishes as soon as satisfaction becomes readily obtainable; any dispute about this died long ago. Certain school of psychology accepted the belief that a husband is never anything but a proxy. The husband is never the right man, the first claim upon the feeling of love in a woman belongs to someone else; her father. The husband is at best a second. Rather the husband rejected or not depends upon the strength of this fixation (Freud, 1924). To experience a fully and normal attitude in love two emotion have to unite; the tender, affectionate feelings and the sensual feeling. Psychology inform us to be free and happy in love one must set aside his deferential approach for women, and embrace the blinding light of the incest taboo.
I believe, I have set the foundation in which to try and answer several questions that part of the conversation since general Petraeus' extramarital affair. (1) Why do women prefer powerful men when it comes to relationships? Why do powerful men engage in extramarital affairs more than powerful women?
First, we must accept the position that power indicates authority, The President of the United States, an army general, the policeman on the block, teacher in the classroom, or the father in the home. These are all position of power and authority.
Power and authority play no role. The individual participates in the relationships to live out a childhood wish, or an unresolved childhood conflict. In adulthood, sex is, often, the vehicle used to act out the forbidden wish.