Addiction in Society

Addiction—the thematic malady for our society—entails every type of psychological and societal problem

What Makes Tiger Tick: Sex Addict or Skilled Gamer?

Tiger's golf skills translate to conquests in the bedroom

As his sex partners topple previous records, people naturally tend to label Tiger's sexual activity a sexual addiction.  In fact, his sexual persona is actually the translation into the bedroom of the skill, dedication, and imagination he demonstrates on the golf course. 

There are some actions whose commission immediately gives rise to their own justification - as a mother killing her infant does post-partum depression.

Something similar occurs with cheating. If someone has a single affair, they have strayed, and may be forgiven. If someone has a series of affairs, then they are philanderers, and we know they are insincere lovers and spouses.

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If someone has an astronomical set of sex partners, on the other hand, then they are sex addicts. Excess becomes its own excuse. Why else would a man with a beautiful wife like Tiger Woods have so much extramarital sex if he weren't addicted?

Yet, as Tiger's mistresses surface in clubs and Denny's around the country and world, we can reflect on the skills and attitudes that allow one human being to conduct so many affairs.  And Tiger's gifts for sexual exploitation of women resemble the skills he brings to his golf game:

  1. Total concentration. Tiger has the ability to devote his attention to the matter at hand - whether sinking a putt or seducing a woman - as though nothing else exists.
  2. No outside interests. Tiger HAS no interests other than golf and girls. That Tiger meets women at clubs, family restaurants, and work-out spots is because, aside from golf courses, this is his entire life.
  3. Numbers are all. Tiger's life is defined by numbers - commentators and fans endlessly repeat how many tournaments he has won and how much money he has earned. Now they can add his concubine totals.
  4. Cold insincerity. Tiger has made an art out of saying only what fits his public persona and career goals. Talking to Tiger is like addressing the imaginary tiger in the cartoon Calvin and Hobbes.
  5. Technique and stamina. Just as Tiger combines mental and physical prowess - and emotional coldness - to take control of golf courses, he seems to do the same in the bedroom - at least the women seemed to enjoy their sex romps.  According to one: "On a scale of 10, I would give him a 12."

So, rather than being a sex addict, the same single-mindedness, skill set, and gift for robotic calculation that make Tiger Woods the world's greatest golfer make him an avatar of the bedroom.  Rather than an illness, his sexual exploits are the stuff of the Tiger legend.

Stanton Peele, PhD, JD, is the author of Recover! He has been a pioneer in the addiction field since publication of Love and Addiction in 1975.

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