Anthony Weiner hasn't really specified what kind of "treatment" he's seeking, and we're a little curious. So we decided to check out what his options are.
Weiner's spokesperson has said he will "seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person." But what does that mean exactly? Lots of news outlets are assuming he'll be seeking help for sex addiction, a la Tiger Woods. Woods reportedly camped out at a rehab center in Mississippi, but Weiner might want something closer to home. If he does, he could call up New York Pathways, where Timothy Lee, LCSW told me patients receive an assessment and evaluation to determine whether the facility can help them. If so, they'll be enrolled in individual and/or group therapy using cognitive-behavioral techniques and addressing underlying causes, as well as a twelve-step program.
However, Pathways doesn't do inpatient rehab — and in fact, Lee told me there were no inpatient sex addiction facilities in the New York area. The closest is the KeyStone Center in Chester, PA, which offers treatment for "exhibitionism and voyeurism" and "dangerous and self-destructive sexual practices," all of which seem to be problems for Weiner. Would-be patients undergo a four-day assessment that may include a polygraph test, after which they may receive a variety of therapies including group art therapy, couples therapy, or twelve-step work. The program doesn't appear to cater specifically to public figures, but it does mention its ability to serve firefighters and pilots.
Of course, we don't know that Weiner's a sex addict. Maybe he'll seek treatment for something else — narcissism perhaps. I spoke with Dr. Max McDowell, a Jungian analyst who says that for severe cases of narcissistic personality disorder, "the only treatment that could really have a chance is long-term psychoanalytic therapy." He noted that additional group therapy could help, as could a twelve-step program for attendant addictive issues. But it sounds like there's no shortcut where NPD is concerned, and if Weiner does suffer from the condition, he probably won't be cured during a quick leave of absences. McDowell also noted that successful therapy can't be just about fixing problems — no one can truly benefit from it "unless they're understood and supported for who they are."
I also talked to Dr. Jonathan Shedler, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, who says that therapy for narcissism can help, but it's often most effective for those who are middle-aged or older. Younger people, he explains, may not yet see the true costs of their disorder. He added that "it's a misconception that you can go from a behavior to a treatment without understanding the reasons behind it," and that "the new wave of celebrity redemption" in which public figures seek psychiatric help for personal peccadilloes may be motivated more by PR concerns than by a real desire for change. He also noted that in order to work, any treatment Weiner undergoes would have to produce real insight, not just a "facsimile of insight" to satisfy his critics. Consensus: Weiner has lots of options, but whatever he does, he'll have to do it because he really wants to heal himself, not just his career.