Will Tiger be able to stay on par with this course?

2010-01-31 09:48

HELLO, I’m Tiger Woods and I’m a sex addict.

Those might be the toughest words Woods ever had to say, assuming,

of course, he stood up and said them at a clinic in Mississippi.

Unfortunately for Woods, greatness on the greens doesn’t count in

group therapy. Unlike golf, he has hardly any way of controlling what goes

on.

It begins the same way for all. You can’t be treated until you

acknowledge there’s a problem.

Desperate times reportedly drove Woods to a place he never would

have imagined.

It’s easy to see why. There’s no driving range and no chipping

green to work on the short game. So far no one has spotted Woods at the nearby

athletics club where patients sometimes pump a little iron.

And if Woods thought preparing for the Masters was tough, he’s

likely spending long days filled with ­lectures, group sessions and the

­ever-present 12-step programme every patient must conquer. Patients must dress

a certain way, address each other in a certain way and, most importantly, can

never touch another patient without permission.

Cellphones are left at home.

“These kind of programmes are very structured,” said Maureen

­Canning, a clinical consultant for sexual compulsive programmes at the Meadows

treatment facility in Arizona. “It’s basically a 12-hour day every day, plus

homework.”

Treatment centres like the Meadows and Pine Grove are places where

people end up only when the consequences are so painful that they have no other

choice. For some it’s ­divorce, while for others it’s a lost job, jail or even

disease. International scorn? Well, that too.

Indeed, for Woods the pain has to be magnified by the fact that

he’s such a public figure. People cheered his ­every move, and dreamt of what it

would be like to be him. Behind it all, though, may have lurked a very

­different person.

“Most sex addicts are extremely lonely emotionally,” Canning said.

“They look really good. They’re intelligent, bright and personable. But

emotionally, they’re lonely because they don’t know how to feel feelings or

allow anyone close. They confuse the intensity of sex with that of ­intimacy.”

There are sceptics who ­believe the whole thing is a bunch of

psycho babble and that some people, mostly men, are inclined to want to have sex

with reasonably attractive people of the opposite sex because it’s in their DNA

to do so.

If Woods is to change that behaviour his wife, Elin, likely will

need to play a role. Spouses are encouraged to join some of the therapy ­because

they are considered part of the overall problem.

“There’s a reason that person chose to be with that identified

addict and that tells you that person needs to do a bit of work too,” said Dr

Drew Pinsky, an addiction specialist and longtime radio advice-show host.

The six weeks of inpatient therapy is just the beginning of a

programme that can stretch up to five years.

This long-term programme is much like one for alcohol or drug

­addiction, which means making sure Woods’ environment is structured so he

doesn’t have the urge or opportunity for sex outside his marriage.

That can be tricky for someone who travels around the world to make

a living, especially if his wife and kids don’t tag along. Woods will have to

abide by new rules, and his Las Vegas haunts will surely be out of bounds.

He may find it difficult to adjust to a confining lifestyle while

trying to regain his dominance on the golf course. The reward is that it may be

the ­only thing that can save his ­marriage. The bonus is that it may some day

also help salvage his reputation.


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