Much of my work as a sex therapist is to simply reassure people that they are normal. Everyone has sexual needs and desires. The instinct to rut and reproduce only follows the urge to survive as our most powerful drives. That most men are randy and think about sex at least once an hour isn’t news to the women who live with them. Sex addiction happens when those sexual needs override everything else, and render the individual unable to function both personally and professionally. So based on my definition, Tiger Woods is not a sex addict.
Addiction is a real thing. Anything that targets the pleasure centres of the brain can become addictive. Smoking, alcohol, chocolate, or gambling can certainly change your physiology. Any addiction gives you those little pleasure buzzes in your head that have you coming back compulsively for more. Sex most certainly falls into this category. It goes from being a happy pill to a full blown addiction when it starts to take over an inordinate amount of brain space. The sex addicts I see in my day to day practice are paralyzed with inaction. They surf porn for five hours at a time, find themselves masturbating at work, blow their rent money at the local massage parlours and are generally filled with self loathing. If a behaviour starts to interfere with ones ability to function, especially professionally, then it’s time to get some help to cope with the compulsions. Just like in those employee assistance commercials which showed an empty desk and ringing phone on Monday morning to illustrate a co-worker with a substance abuse problem. Sex addicts like any other group with a problem start having problems maintaining their corporate responsibilities. At no time while frolicking with a bevy of mistresses, did Tiger’s game seriously falter. He continued to be ranked first in the world with prize winnings of over 10 million dollars last year.
Much more common than sex addicts, are people struggling with temptation. I believe that men’s sexual needs are defined by hundreds of million years of evolution. Men are biologically attracted to “newness” when it comes to sex. There is a global appeal in wanting variety when exploring sexual appetites. Desiring sex, or sex with a litany of different women does not make you a sex addict. The only difference between Tiger Woods and some of the men I see looking for suggestions on how to explore an urge for more variety is that he has the opportunity. Few men I know get propositioned by different women in their daily lives. If they did, every study done in the last ten years about male sex drive would suggest that most of them would act on the invitation. And unlike men and couples looking to explore sexual variety with integrity, Tiger took the easy ride into infidelity.
Think about it, he's like any other young, fit, aggressive guy chocked full of testosterone. Men who can, often do and Tiger has beautiful, seductive women throwing themselves at him continuously. He faces temptation that would tempt a saint. And Tiger is no saint. Despite his previous PR campaign to hold himself up to higher standards, Tiger is as human, and as sexual as the rest of us.
There is a new series on History television called Ancients Behaving Badly. It's simple "Rocket Robin Hood animation" meets the known facts of all the great conquerors. It also offers up a moving scale of personality disorders. It uses historical facts of men in positions of power. There are lots of throwing tantrums and demonstrating psychosis along with a competitive need to win. One of the most common characteristics of exceptional men is narcissism and the need to be viewed as special. In my opinion, Tiger is more of a narcissist. To call himself a sex addict and use the label of an addiction because it spins better as an excuse for his behaviour is dismissive of people really struggling with sexual addiction. It also gives any philandering spouse the “get out of jail free card”. It feeds into what I see as the American Hollywood culture of victimhood. To say he was just a philandering jerk doesn’t lend itself well to his sponsors and public. To say he has a problem that a month in the Betty Ford Clinic will fix makes him a fallible hero. I believe Tiger Woods will give into temptation again. He maybe able to say no to the first hundred propositions, but the liklihood is that he will give into the 101st. Like holding your breath under water he will come up sputtering. You can’t fight those urges with nothing more than platitudes, and he needs a life plan not a month surrounded by yes men telling him he has a problem.