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Power, entitlement fuel sexual misdeeds: experts

The list is almost too long to name. One-time US presidential contender John Edwards. Israel's former president Moshe Katsav. Golf superstar Tiger Woods.

Israel's former president Moshe Katsav is seen at Israel's Supreme Court in Tel Aviv on May 11. Katsav was sentenced in March to seven years in prison for a rape committed while he was a cabinet minister in the late 1990s.

IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn has joined a plethora of men at the pinnacle of power and the top of their game who have faced ruin thanks to a sex scandal.

Many of them manage to shake off the allegations, and Strauss-Kahn, the powerful head of the International Monetary Fund, has denied all charges of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid.

But sexual pathology expert Sharon O'Hara says there are countless cases of men with an unquenchable appetite for sex who have let their compulsion for sexual conquest get the better of them.

"We see a lot of people who are bigwigs in Hollywood, and they often have, like tunnel vision," said O'Hara, who has treated sex addicts for two decades, and warns that at times such compulsion can cross over into criminal acts.

"It's got a sociopath quality -- 'What I want, I want, when I want it. And I've got all this power'," said O'Hara, who is the clinical director of the Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI) in Los Angeles.

"It's always about power and entitlement," she said.

The intersection between sex and power again came into focus Tuesday, when movie action hero and former California US governor Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted fathering a lovechild with a member of his household staff.

The years-long affair triggered the breakup of his 25-year marriage to Kennedy dynasty royalty Maria Shriver, in a scandal that reverberated across the United States.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives at Milan's justice court before a hearing on May 2. Berlusconi is fighting abuse-of-power charges and claims that he paid for sex with an underaged girl.

O'Hara described sex addicts and sex offenders as distinctly separate trouble groups whose dysfunctional behaviors sometimes overlap.

But while sex addiction may be harmful only to the addict, "when there's somebody unwilling or when you're peering over bathroom stalls, then you're talking offender behavior," she said.

Sex disorders expert Robert Weiss, meanwhile, said men at the pinnacle of power are particularly prone to behave in this way, and even wrote a book that dealt with the syndrome: "Why Men in Power Act Out."

"Powerful men engaged in intensely stressful jobs need to have their emotional lives in balance," said Weiss, who founded the Sexual Recovery Institute a decade and a half ago.

"While functioning at a very high level intellectually, a sense of invulnerability combined with poor self-care and constant pressure to perform can leave them emotionally vulnerable to undermining the very things they have worked so hard to achieve," he said.

"Sexual addiction has affected some of the most notable figures in television, politics, and entertainment," he says, citing former president Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods as examples.

Clinton was impeached in the scandal related to his sexual relationship with a White House intern, while Woods last year saw his marriage dissolve amid revelations of a succession of tawdry extra-marital affairs.

They, and numerous others, Weiss said, are examples of "how sexual acting out can manifest in men of power who should know better."

Movie action hero and former California US governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, pictured in 2010, admitted fathering a lovechild with a member of his household staff.

Experts note that it is rare for a politician to go to jail for sex crimes whether because most stop short of criminal behavior or because their victims don't press charges.

One recent exception, however, is former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, who was sentenced in March to seven years in prison for a rape committed while he was a cabinet minister in the late 1990s.

Meanwhile, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is also fighting abuse-of-power charges and claims that he paid for sex with an underaged girl.

Attitudes about sex addiction are hardly unanimous, even among mental health professionals. The American Psychiatric Association does not formally recognize sex addiction as a mental disorder.

But one celebrated expert sex dysfunction expert, Patrick Carnes, estimates that just under nine percent of men in the United States are sex-addicted.

And experts like Weiss say that men in high and powerful places are particularly vulnerable to sex-related addictions.

These, he said, are "individuals who work 16 to 18 hour days, travel the world at a far distance from those close to them and often have few people to fully confide in -- while having to manage intense stress and pressure," he said.

"The underlying source of these types of addictive sexual disorders is a lack of adult emotional support and intimacy combined with often overlooked early histories of early emotional trauma," said Weiss.

"They miss out on the relaxation, self-care and emotional intimacy, human beings require for a healthy life," he said.

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