Smooth Player or Sex Addict? Jersey Shore’s “The Situation”

Mike, a.k.a “The Situation” is one of the most popular cast members of the spectacularly popular MTV reality show, Jersey Shore. But he’s also known for having a Jekyll/Hyde personality: he comes across as a player with a soft side. The Jekyll side usually dominates. For example, Mike takes care of his buddies when they go out clubbing and cooks Sunday night dinners for the whole Jersey Shore gang.  But the Hyde side of Mike rears its ugly head whenever things don’t go his way. It’s especially obvious when the women he tries to hook up with are not “DTF”. That’s when The Situation’s claws come out. He gazes at women with a predatory stare and “pulls a robbery” on Vinny’s girlfriend, Ramona. Even the affable Snooki bore the brunt of Mike’s controlling nature one night, when he attempted to literally haul her and her best friend out of a club because he couldn’t find any willing partners there.

Perhaps even more disturbing than Mike’s lack of loyalty towards his buddy Vinny and sometimes aggressive behavior are his manipulation skills. Angelina may be known as the official trouble-maker of Jersey Shore, but it’s Mike who, behind the scenes, instigates most disputes. He sets his friends against one another to  watch them flip out “like pancakes,” as he once put it. Finally, Mike is not your average player. His impulse to seduce women every night–sometimes several women a night–appears to be the symptom of a rather severe sexual addiction.

Compulsive seducers tend to be extremely narcissistic. They use their conquests as mirrors to reflect back to them an aggrandized image of their own desirability. Just as rape is about violence and power, so compulsive seduction is about conquest and control. Dr. Steve Becker distinguishes, however, between the motives of narcissists and psychopaths. Of the two, he suggests that psychopaths present a greater danger to others. He explains that all psychopaths are narcissistic. But the converse isn’t true. Not all narcissists are psychopathic, in the sense of living for the thrill of duping and harming others. In his essay, “Sociopath versus Narcissist,” Becker argues that both narcissistic and psychopathic seducers share a tendency to treat others as objects. He states, “Welcome to the world of the narcissist and psychopath. Theirs is a mindset of immediate, demanded gratification, with a view of others as expected—indeed existing—to serve their agendas. Frustrate their agendas, and you can expect repercussions, ranging from the disruptive to ruinous.” (powercommunicating.com)

Psychopaths and narcissists have different motivations for why they seduce. Narcissists need an endless supply of validation. The more women they seduce, the more they feel reassured in their sex appeal. By way of contrast, a psychopath does it strictly for the perverse pleasure of playing a game. The women he seduces, whether he’s involved with them for one evening or for several years, represent nothing more than pawns, to be used for his personal pleasure and amusement. Becker elaborates:

“The psychopath is less obsessed than the narcissist with validation. Indeed, his inner world seems to lack much of anything to validate: it is barren, with nothing in it that would even be responsive to validation. An emotional cipher, the psychopath’s exploitation of others is more predatory than the narcissist’s. For the psychopath, who may be paranoid, the world is something like a gigantic hunt, populated by personified-objects to be mined to his advantage.” (powercommunicating.com)

Just as they eventually tire of each game piece—be it a long-term girlfriend, a casual lover or a spouse—psychopaths also tire of each kind of game. Even promiscuous sex gets boring for them. Perhaps this explains why Mike needs to make a play for other men’s girlfriends or to instigate  fights among his Jersey Shore friends. No doubt, Jersey Shore Season 3 will continue to reveal the two sides of Mike, smooth player or sociopathic sex addict, depending upon how you want to look at “The Situation”.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

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