As news outlets around the world document the sex acts of Harvey Weinstein, it is worth wondering how people like Harvey Weinstein are created.
First, it should be obvious that, for Harvey Weinstein, sex was seemingly divorced from the notion of “relationship.” Sex acts were the goal, in and of themselves, not using sex as a means of connection.
Harvey Weinstein wasn’t a romantic suitor who wouldn’t take no for answer; he was a man with an appetite he wanted to satisfy. He was hungry. But, for what? Certainly, not for love. Certainly, not for companionship. Certainly, not for mutual gratification.
Mr. Weinstein wasn’t asking women for their company at dinners; the women were the meals.
From descriptions of his alleged exploits, Harvey Weinstein’s hunger would seem to have been for power. Expressing that power through sex was his path to satisfaction. And that likely means that, at some critical point in Mr. Weinstein’s psychological development, he was the one who was completely disempowered.
If you wanted to create a Harvey Weinstein, you would make him feel helpless, as a child or adolescent. You could do that by victimizing him, sexually. You could do it by bullying him, ceaselessly. You could do it, as a parent, by controlling him, to the point of suffocating him, psychologically.
The key would be to make the child or adolescent feel like a non-person—intensely enough, for long enough, to make powerlessness the central theme of his young life. Because once someone’s developing psyche is charged with extreme polarity of power versus powerlessness, that force will likely be expressed either by seeking out situations in which to re-enact his powerlessness or seeking out situations to prove he is all-powerful, often at the expense of his own victims.
If Harvey Weinstein takes a real journey toward healing, that journey will include seeking the source of his own feelings of depersonalization and powerlessness, probably long denied, then transmuted into distorted mirrors able to turn women into non-people whose own desires and hopes and feelings were as irrelevant as his once were.
Keith Ablow, MD