Davies: I have compulsive need to seek out danger

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THE FORMER Welsh secretary Ron Davies spoke yesterday of his "darker side" and a compulsive disorder which drives him to take risks.

Acknowledging a "death wish" which compelled him to gamble with his life, the MP for Caerphilly revealed that he was now receiving psychiatric treatment.

For many, he answered the question which had hung in the air since that night eight months ago when a walk on Clapham Common in south London left him stripped of his Ford Granada and his dignity.

Why would a man of obvious intelligence with so much to lose jeopardise everything in such a way? And why would he continue his "bird-watching" activities when he must have been aware of a continued interest from inquisitive tabloids?

Yesterday, Mr Davies, 52, insisted that his downfall had been precipitated by an illness which makes him seek out dangerous situations with a sexual undercurrent.

"I now understand that I have a compulsive disorder which causes me to seek out high-risk situations. I am receiving help to deal with this element of my personality and am determined and confident that ... I will now be able to overcome it," said the member of the Welsh Assembly.

Last week, Mr Davies announced his bisexuality but insisted that his strolls in gay haunts were innocent. Yesterday, however, he went some way to admitting that his risk-taking compulsion was sexually driven.

"All of my primary feelings, both physical and emotional, have been towards women. The bisexual influence has, however, been an element in some of the risk situations I have found myself. This together with other impulses has put me in places where I have been at risk," he said.

Of his "moment of madness" on Clapham Common, he said: "I was intrigued at the prospect of going with unknown company, male and female, for a meal and perhaps to watch a video in unknown and strange surroundings. There was perhaps a sexual undercurrent, but nothing explicit. Nothing of a sexual nature occurred."

Mr Davies explained that several weeks ago he had come to terms with the "inexplicable elements" of his actions. He was being treated on the National Health Service, and had the support of his wife Christina, 45, and daughter, Angharad, 14. His compulsion, he insisted, could be "cured".

In an interview published yesterday, Mr Davies revealed that a colleague's concern had convinced him to seek help. "One of the most significant moments was when someone close to me said: `You act as if you have a death wish'."

His language betrayed the influence of psychiatrists, with talk of a "disorder" and "personal scars" from childhood.

Elaborating on his House of Commons statement, he said: "I had the misfortune to experience a very troubled, violent and emotionally dysfunctional childhood. It is these early experiences which hold the key to the compulsive disorder ... which I hope during the coming months I will be able to deal with."

Celebrity Sufferers

As many as 2 million people in Britain are believed to suffer from some form of compulsive disorder characterised byrepetitive, ritualised behaviour and/or obsessions which inspire recurrent disturbing thoughts. Some celebrities recently described their illnesses.

Jane Horrocks, 28

The actress revealed that she spent two years swallowing incessantly due to an obsession about her jaw. She also became obsessed with counting the number of times she blinked. She said motherhood helped calm her fears.

Ian McCulloch, 39

The Echo and the Bunnymen star said his illness showed itself in a need to wash his hands constantly. As a child, he developed a fear of touching things, and would flush the lavatory with his feet.

Emily Lloyd, 28

The actress began suffering from the illness after being bitten by a dog in India. It prompted constant anxiety and repetitive thoughts.