by Gary Schubach, Ed.D., A.C.S.
While watching him on TV, I remembered a New York Times article that I read last February. That article says that Woods had just emerged from rehab for “sex addiction,” and suggests that he has been under the personal treatment of Dr. Patrick Carnes, the guru of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.
The article also suggests that Woods may have been administered powerful antidepressant drugs to suppress his sex drive, erections, and orgasms that are similar to those given to pedophiles and sex offenders. There is substantial debate over whether such powerful antidepressants are appropriate for someone like Tiger Woods who is only guilty of irresponsible consensual sex.
I read Carnes’ best seller, Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction (1983), when I was a doctoral student, and his theories about “sex addiction” are pseudo science. Unlike most people, I checked his footnotes and they just do not support his conclusions. He piles one on top of another to build his case for “sex addiction” to be regarded as a pathological disease, like alcoholism. I suppose what is particularly offensive is the misuse of the Twelve Steps of AA.
I grew up in a Twelve Step home. My mother was on the program for over thirty years, until her death. In Twelve Step programs I learned that “compulsive behavior” could manifest itself in many ways, including alcoholism, overeating, drugs, gambling or sex and often someone who stops drinking transfers their addiction from one to another.
Compulsive sexual behavior is no different and individuals participate in it for many reasons. There have been times in my life when I have used sex as an escape from myself and my feelings rather than for pleasure or as a reflection of my love and caring for another human being. Those times were problematical in that to get sex, I sometimes acted compulsively in ways I didn’t feel good about later.
As a graduate student, I administered a version of the Kinsey Sex History to 16 members of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. While that was not enough to be considered a reliable sample, I did note that their sexual activities and frequency did not vary much from the average. What was different was how they felt about what they had done.
Back to Tiger Woods. While I will never condone someone breaking their marital agreements regarding sexual exclusivity. I must point out that adultery has reached almost epidemic levels in this country. Woods, Bill Clinton, Gov. Mark Warner, John Edwards and TV evangelist Ted Haggard are only a small fraction of the prominent men to be “outed” for cheating on their wives. Throughout history many prominent men including some Popes and even JFK, who was not exposed until after his time, have broken their sexual vows and the Schadenfreude in me waits for the day when Patrick Carnes is exposed for marital infidelity.
What this may be more about is the interplay between money, power and sex. It seems sex is always lurking somewhere close by when money and power are present. Perhaps Woods’ greatest error, like those before him, was the arrogance to believe that he wouldn’t get caught. However, the penalty for that error should not be chemical castration.