Monday, May 24, 2010

A Cry For Help?

Is misbehavior a result of making bad choices or is it a cry for help? Should we hold people

accountable for doing unacceptable, immoral, unethical, or illegal things in order to garner outside attention? According to Jesse James, (estranged husband of Academy Award® winner Sandra Bullock) he was ashamed of his behavior (extramarital affairs) AND was hoping that he would get caught.

So, is bad behavior an act of self-sabotage?

The misbehavior of children is often explained by "acting out" due to attention-seeking, feelings of inadequacy, revenge, or exerting social power. Children garner some leeway depending on their age, cognitive ability and the act they commit. Should we apply the same to adults behaving badly?

Don't forget to watch Good Morning America on Tues., May 25th and Nightline for the full interview.


  1. Dr. E,

    You know that when you start talking about cognitive abilities and children, I have to make a comment. First of all, I agree with you when you say that, most often than not, children "act out" in order to get attention - negative or positive - and they may have feelings of inadequacy. It is also possible that cognition may play a part in their inabilities to comprehend their actions and the consequences of their actions. This is the same for adults who may have low IQs, but in the case of Jesse James, he may have been involved in extramarital affairs, but he appears to be intellectually capable of understanding the actions of his behaviors. Jesse James wanted to get caught because there was some aspect of his relationship that may have been lacking and he did not know how to admit it. He may have a mental health disorder where he craves sex and his only way to expose it is to get caught in his extra marital affairs. Speculation is one thing. Only he will be able to reveal the truth in his interview.

  2. I am so glad that you brought up mental health and cognition. I will soon post a follow-up to this piece about sexual addition as many people are now using that diagnosis to "explain" their behavior.

  3. Child Boo! One solution: castration!