The XX Factor

Why Calling DSK Mentally Ill Is an Improvement

Photo by DAVID KARP/AFP/Getty Images

Last night on French TV, former Prime Minister Michel Rocard called his fellow socialist party member Dominque Strauss-Kahn mentally ill because of his repeated alleged misconduct with women. According to The Telegraph:

Mr Rocard - French prime minister from 1988 to 1991 - said it was “clearly medical problems” that drove Mr Strauss-Kahn to become embroiled in repeated sex scandals…Mr Rocard told Canal+ television’s Grand Journal news: “This man quite obviously has a mental illness that makes it difficult for him to control his urges.”


When I first read the headline I was annoyed–Rocard seemed to be minimizing Strauss-Kahn’s personal responsibility in the several alleged cases of sexual misconduct. But at least it’s an improvement over what other French bigwigs have been saying about Strauss-Kahn in the months since he was accused of raping a hotel maid in New York. Recall French philospher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who was offended by the notion that the maid could be allowed to accuse DSK of raping her in the first place. More recently, other members of the French elite are saying that DSK should be making a comeback now that prosecutors in New York have declined to try the case against him. In light of these attitudes, Rocard’s description of DSK as mentally ill at least acknowledges that the former IMF chief’s behavior is unacceptable.