RUNNING ON EMPTY - New Psycho PoliticsNew Psycho Politics



Everyday seems to bring more bad news for Anthony Weiner’s campaign for mayor of New York.  Last week, questions arose about the possibility of influence-peddling by Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin.  Over the weekend, voters learned Weiner’s campaign manager had quit, and Weiner sexting partner Sydney Leathers seems to reveal another embarrassing aspect of their online affair daily.

But things hit a new low on Wednesday when the New York Post reported that campaign staffers put up with Weiner only in the hope of using Huma as a connection to her former boss, Hillary Clinton.  As a career advancement strategy, that’s probably not going to work since the Clintons reportedly want nothing to do with Weiner.  The intern’s comments earned her a profanity-laced attack from Weiner’s communications director.

There are many psychological lessons to learn from the Anthony Weiner saga, but the one that seems most relevant right now is the impact of what psychologists call depletion.  Depletion is a state of mental exhaustion, and when people get depleted, they do things they might later regret.  It’s no coincidence that most drug and alcohol abuse, violent crime, and risky sexual behavior happen late at night when people feel depleted.

Weiner must feel depleted when he’s asked at every campaign stop about his online behavior and when he’s going to quit the race.  Abedin must be depleted from dealing with her husband’s online behavior, the demands of a high pressure campaign, questions about her ethics, and criticism from women who believe she should leave her husband.  And she has a toddler at home.

Weiner intern Olivia Nuzzi must have been feeling depleted when she so candidly admitted to the New York Post that Weiner’s volunteers were actually sticking around for the chance of working for Hillary in 2016.  And Weiner communications director Barbara Morgan (shown with Weiner above) must have been really depleted when she called Nuzzi a “slutbag” and other profanities in an on-the-record interview.

But Sydney Leathers, who went from Princeton, Indiana to Hollywood in less than a week, may be the depleted person closest to making a really risky decision.  The website TMZ reports that Leathers has been seen in the company of Steve Hirsch, co-owner of Vivid Entertainment, a company specializing in pornography.  It must be great to be the center of so much attention, but Leathers may want to get some rest and collect her thoughts before she makes any further career decisions.


Photo Source: Google Images

Robert Smither, PhD
Author of ten books on psychology, politics, and finance, Bob’s areas of expertise include leadership, organizational politics, and the psychology of political sex scandals.

6 Comments on "RUNNING ON EMPTY"

  1. Donna says:

    Makes you want to check that you’re not running on empty anywhere in your own life.

    • Robert Smither, PhD says:

      Always a good idea.

    • Robert Smither, PhD says:

      That’s a problem–depleted people often think their decisions are completely rational. When considering a risky course of action, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself “What are the reasons I shouldn’t do this?”

  2. Katie Seymour says:

    Say yes to naps! Fascinating piece! Thank you!

  3. Janan says:

    So, how do you know you are so depleted that you are likely to say or do things you wouldn’t otherwise?

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