THE BLOG
07/04/2009 11:38 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Mark Sanford: When Bullsh**ters See Red...

When bullsh**ters see red,
their common sense is dead.

What is it that Mark Sanford, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Elliott Spitzer AND Bernie Madoff have in common?

It's not that they all cheated on someone; it's that they're all smart, deeply flawed and "Adrenaline Junkies." Adrenaline is like "power" junk food. When you're in the middle of an adrenaline rush, you feel invincible, powerful, above the rules and above all, special. But one thing all these power junkies don't reckon on until it's too late is that "the thrill of an adrenaline rush is only exceeded by the utter angst of an adrenaline crash."

In essence these people are hooked on natural cocaine and like most cocaine addicts, they can become desperate to do and take anything to prevent the cocaine/adrenaline crash. It's in that moment of desperation that concern for consequences is thrown to the wind.

When your brain is awash in either way too much or way too little adrenaline, a part of your middle brain called the amygdala proceeds to do an "amygdala hijack." When that happens according to Dan Goleman, inventor of Emotional Intelligence , you cannot access the "executive" (interesting term, don't you think?) function of your brain. That part enables you to consider consequences and weigh your options before you act. Instead you are thrown into more hard wired (and often more primitive) reaction. Therefore, feeling bored + feeling entitled + deeply flawed + adrenaline rush = Throw wedding vows to the wind.

What is truly frightening about powerful people -- and usually men -- who are adrenaline junkies is wondering if and how it affects their judgment outside of the adrenaline pumping activity. Ironically and thankfully, a man's area of competence is usually the last to go when they're hooked on adrenaline. They'll still be able to function competently long after they have destroyed their marriage or their finances, but there are occasions when it crosses over into behavior that can affect thousands, i.e. Bernie Madoff, or possibly an entire country, if in fact it played a role in the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney taking us to war with Iraq.

What's the take home from this? When you're on an adrenaline high, smoke gets in your mind and your judgment becomes cloudy. And when you begin to crash off that high judgment and common sense goes out the window and you will do anything to keep it going, and I mean anything.

What's the solution? Try a little "amydala endurance training" by learning to "Take the Hit" from the world without acting out.

.If the saying, "All that glitters isn't gold," is true, maybe all that glows can turn out to be fool's gold.

* Basil and Spice: Why common sense takes a holiday
* Et tu, Governor Sanford?
* Taking infidelity to a new level
* 10 Reasons NOT to Date a Married man