Anthony Weiner just got caught sending pictures of his dick, again. While it might seem like we can safely assume Weiner — a one-time political superstar who has sabotaged his career again and again and yet again by sending dick pics to random women on the internet who are not his wife, Huma Abedin, adviser to Hillary Clinton — has a sexting addiction, we can’t really say for sure. We try not to practice armchair diagnosis — it’s irresponsible, and none of us have a Ph.D. in psychiatry or a medical degree. It’s also extremely difficult to diagnose a sexting addiction because doctors still aren’t sure whether sexting addictions are even real.
Sex addictions, in general, are difficult to diagnose and can be even more difficult to treat. The movie Shame, starring Michael Fassbender, tackled this very issue: Addiction can cause sex to lose its enjoyability, especially when it’s used as a tool for fulfilling other psychological needs. The fact that Weiner is so seemingly focused on how big his peen is might indicate how much emphasis he places on how he’s being portrayed in public and challenging those who might question his masculinity.
But the emergence of Weiner’s tumescent alter-ego Carlos Danger demonstrated a modern twist on sex addiction. The weird thing about an addiction to sexting is that it constitutes not only an addiction to sex but also to the internet, which didn’t show up in civilization until about 40 years ago. Without a cell phone or Twitter, Anthony Weiner could arguably have hidden his problem, potentially saving not just his political career but his marriage. It’s a modern affliction that requires inpatient treatment and extensive therapy. Weiner has allegedly sought treatment for his prior two offenses. In fact, the poster boy for sexting addiction at the Center for Internet Addiction is — you guessed it — Anthony Weiner.
But experts remain divided over whether sexting addiction is real or not. Some say yes, indicating that it stems from “low self-esteem, a distorted body image, untreated sexual dysfunction, or a prior sexual addiction are more at risk to develop sexting and pornography addiction problems.” Weiner has no recorded history of pornography addiction problems, but he does have a weirdly frequent hankering for showing his junk to women on the internet — and never seems to learn his lesson.
Others aren’t so sure. A Washington Post article from 2013 reminds us that the American Psychiatric Association — the group that determines what officially constitutes a mental illness — has avoided categorizing sexting, illustrating its struggle with trying to classify addictions. Still others think the real problem is that Weiner’s got an ego that far outshadows his penis, a case of narcissism gone rogue to the point of being outright stupid.
Weiner’s constant denial of his behavior is suspect. When news of his sexting escapades goes public, he claims he’s a “mongoose” who got catfished or that he was simply sending innocent “appropriate” texts to a friend. Even more odd is the fact that his wife doesn’t seem to know about Weiner’s dick moves until they become media fodder. Lying is grounds for a therapeutic intervention, and Weiner’s got that going.
Weiner’s inability to control sending shots of his crotch over the internet is indicative of a greater issue. Sexting, in and of itself, is not a problem: It’s perfectly human to want to send out an erotic photo or dirty text to someone you’re sexually attracted to. But for a person who, as of Monday morning, was formerly married and in a position of power, sexting has obvious social repercussions, and for someone who seems to be a bit trigger happy with the send button, Anthony Weiner has some pretty big problems to deal with that aren’t his boner.