Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tiger Woods in Sex Rehab

The issue seems to have faded with time, but still, inquiring minds want to know: How's that sex rehab stuff working out for Tiger Woods?

Thankfully, the National Enquirer, that intrepid seeker of truths the mainstream media dares not touch, has found a source, a person who was in the same Mississippi sex rehab clinic as Tiger Woods. Link here.

Before jumping to a conclusion, let's examine the facts, as reported by the Enquirer.

Fact 1: Tiger denied that he was a sex addict.

Fact 2: Tiger treated the program as a joke.

Fact 3: Tiger ridiculed his fellow patients (presumably because they did not take it as a joke).

Fact 4: Tiger refused to cooperate with his therapists.

Fact 5: Tiger exploded in rage at having to be in rehab.

Fact 6: Tiger treated group therapy with contempt.

Fact 7: Tiger made one female patient cry.

The Enquirer's source concludes that Tiger is in extreme denial. He went in as a sex addict and he will come out as a sex addict.

Let's not be so quick to condemn.

Even if we grant that the source is reliable, we must acknowledge that when this person told all to the Enquirer he was compromising the secrecy of twelve step program meetings. There is a reason why AA stands for Alcoholics Anonymous. Meetings to treat real addictions rely on the cloak of anonymity. Someone who presents himself as an enlightened participant in such meetings does not betray their secrets.

If we assume that these facts are true, that still leave us with a serious question: Is Tiger in denial or is he reacting normally to a bogus and insulting program?

Of course, this depends on whether or not you believe that sex addiction should be a diagnostic category. I have expressed my own views here and here.

If I'm right and Tiger Woods is not a sex addict, then he is simply reacting normally to an offensive and demeaning program.

Perhaps the question comes as a shock to your sensibility, but we are far too quick to assume that if someone gets angry at a therapist this is proof that he is in denial, or is resisting, or is transferring emotion that needs to be directed at someone else.

As it happens, anger is a normal reaction to rudeness and disrespect. And the kind of heads-I-win/tails-you-lose attitude that infests far too much therapy deserves to be called into serious question.

Sometimes anger is legitimate; sometimes it is not. Sometimes you express anger in the right way to the right person at the right time; sometimes you do not. It is simply wrong to assume that when you offer a treatment that is systematically disrespectful the patient's anger necessarily means that you are right and that he is in denial.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, when sex rehab instructs the "addict" to tell his wife of all of his exploits and dalliances in detail, the right response is to get angry and to refuse. It takes an extraordinary level of insensitivity to imagine that such a torture session could benefit a marriage.

Maybe the healthy thing is to get angry and to walk out of such treatment, roughly as one of Freud's first patients, Dora, did.

Of course, if we were talking about a true alcoholic or drug addict, then I would certainly be in favor of rehab. For my views, see this link. And I have consistently expressed a positive opinion of twelve step programs.

While it is well known that AA works well for the alcoholics who work the program, that is not a reason to assume that anyone who engages in bad behavior is necessarily an addict. When you see the Sex and Morals Police trot out the term "sex addict" to condemn and to shame people, you should be very wary indeed.

Meantime, other reports have suggested that Tiger Woods is out of rehab, and that he bought his wife a new diving boat. Apparently, that places them on the path toward marital reconciliation.

Now we can go back to the most important question: Will Tiger will play the Masters this year?


Robert Pearson said...

Love the blog--discovered through a Gerard Van der Leun Google Buzz.

Sometimes you express anger in the right way to the right person at the right time; sometimes you do not..

Aristotle said something similar to this, unfortunately I can't remember in which of his writings right now, but it's an all-time favorite.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I'm glad you like the blog. The line from Aristotle-- which is my source-- is from the Nichomachean Ethics. It is also an all-time favorite of mine.