In 1995, Dr. Paul Fick, a clinical psychologist in private
practice in Laguna Niguel, California, who treats adult
children of alcoholics who have displayed various forms of
compulsive behavior, wrote “The Dysfunctional
Three years later, Dr. Jerome Levin, the director of the
Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Training Program at the
New School for Social Research in New York, reached the
same conclusion in his book, “The Clinton Syndrome.”
Two psychotherapists, 3,000 miles apart, who are worlds
apart in their views on politics, religion and social issues,
are of one mind about the condition of Bill Clinton: He is
sick and he needs help.
Fick refers to Clinton’s problem as a sexual “compulsion;”
Levin calls it an addition; but, compulsion or addition, it’s
a serious problem that likely will not go away without
professional help. Both men believe that recovery is
possible, but say it will be a slow, arduous process.
Fick believes that Clinton cannot overcome this problem
while president because stress increases the desire for the
destructive behavior. Although Levin expresses the hope
that Clinton can begin treatment while in office, he admits
that this would be difficult, if not impossible. Dr. Levin
says, “Grandiosity (the belief that ‘the rules don’t apply to
me, I’m special, I’m entitled’) reinforces denial” and “must
be relinquished before recovery can occur.”
It has been argued that Clinton is no different from other
presidents who have had extramarital affairs. However, Dr.
Levin says that Clinton “is different” and that you simply
cannot write off his behavior because the press is more
aggressive than it was during the time of Roosevelt or
Levin compares Clinton’s behavior with cigarette smoking.
“Thirty years ago, the fact that a person smoked did not
imply anything about his or her personality or propensity
to addiction. It was simply what people did.” Today, if you
smoke with the full knowledge of the health risks it carries,
“it does say something about your personality and
propensity to addiction.”
Unlike other presidents, “… we see Clinton risking
everything to have sexual affairs — to feed his addiction.
Even after he was aware that Special Prosecutor Kenneth
Starr was poised to destroy him, he nonetheless allegedly
made advances toward Kathleen Willey and Monica
Lewinsky. He opened the door and invited both personal
and political destruction.”
Fick and Levin are in agreement on another important
point. Without treatment, his condition is unlikely to
improve. There will be another woman and another
scandal. Clinton has shown us that he is willing to risk
everything he holds dear to accommodate this behavior.
Does that include the nation itself?
When the U.S. House of Representatives finally begins
impeachment hearings, it would do well to include these
two thoughtful clinical psychologists.