Pocket Porn: Why Anthony Weiner can’t seem to stop sexting

By Amy Ellis Nutt – The Washington Post on Sexting

Dangr33 is back. Yep, it wasn’t enough for disgraced former New York congressman Anthony Weiner to be caught sexting twice or even to bare his soul in a documentary about his sextcapades. Now he’s been caught sexting a woman, again not his wife, with his young son in the crotch shot.

"The Anthony Weiner Scandal: Unraveling the Persistence of Sexting"
Image by Pexels from Pixabay


Sexting, like Internet addiction, is not included by the American Psychiatric Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But in the DSM’s most recent edition, Internet Gaming Disorder is listed as warranting more clinical research. Other countries such as China and South Korea, as well as the World Health Organization, do recognize Internet addiction as a treatable psychological disorder.

On the one hand, sexting between consenting adults is considered

by many to be a safe form of sexual expression. On the other hand, when does electronic foreplay become compulsive? (On Monday, his wife, Huma Abedin, a key aide to Hillary Clinton, released a statement saying she was separating from her husband.)

“And [Weiner] is definitely acting out, especially with a highly visible wife.”


“It’s a juvenile behavior: It’s sex, but not really sex,” Young said. “We see it a lot in those with social anxiety. … [Weiner] doesn’t necessarily fit the typical profile, but sometimes they don’t.”


Sexting probably has a biological component,

Young said, and although the research is still new, such a finding would not be surprising. Sexual acts, as well as the act of watching pornography, releases one of the brain’s pleasure chemicals, dopamine. This, in turn, activates the nucleus accumbens, a brain structure involved not only in the enjoyment of pleasurable experiences but also in the pursuit of them.

In other words, the brain of someone who sexts keeps returning to the figurative scene of the crime. Several years ago, when Dutch researchers scanned the brains of men having orgasms, the activity in their brains was akin to that of a heroin rush.

Sexting, of course, is legal. But it is uncomfortably close to other risky obsessions.

“It’s safe and it can be done at home,” Young said. “It fits a lot of addiction models.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Amy Ellis Nutt covers health and science for The Washington Post.


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