When Dr. Drew was evaluating Tiger Woods’ performance for me this week, he assured me Tiger is for sure a sex addict.
Why? If Tiger weren’t a sex addict, he wouldn’t have been admitted into state-accredited programs in Mississippi (one of the best in the country), and then the intense aftercare of the esteemed Meadows in Arizona, Drew says.
So I talked with Maureen Canning, clinical consultant for the Meadows, which hasn't confirmed or denied if Tiger is/was a patient.
She wouldn’t comment on Tiger.
But she did say, generally speaking, sex addicts seem like they have a lot of self-esteem and confidence, which are misleading facades.
“Typically, they’re intellectual, successful, personable — they’re very likeable people,” Canning says.
“But on the inside, they’ve spent a lifetime masking a sense of insecurity and shame. They’re experts at looking good on the outside but feeling extremely empty, lost and lonely on the inside.”
So: “The core of this addiction is based on the individual’s low self-esteem, or what we call ‘the shame core,’” Canning says.
Addicts in recovery set up individualized plans where they abstain from sex and masturbation for months, oftentimes.
That halts the bad behavior so the addict can work on “healing properties,” like self-esteem, “their distorted cognitions,” and figuring out past experiences that shaped their psycho-sexual development, she says.
But, she says, “It’s not about abstaining, because you have bad behaviors. It’s about reintroducing your sexuality after you’ve taken some time off and looked at yourself, and done grief work about past or present relationships.”
Canning is glad Tiger’s case has opened a national dialogue about sex addiction.
“When these things come to light, people start talking. There’s not as much mystique around it.”
She just wishes there was more media education about the disorder, so people could better understand the depths of it, not just the sensationalistic aspects.
Meanwhile, Dr. Drew says he’s fascinated that some journalists were upset Monday, when writers at Tiger’s press conference didn’t ask more probing sexual questions.
“To me that’s bizarre. That’s anathema to the point,” Dr. Drew says.
Tiger said he did “horrible, horrible things.” To that, Dr. Drew says:
“OK, that’s right, you did. I don’t need to know any more than that. I really don’t. Can we put most of [the details] under ‘horrible, horrible’” and not hear the rest?
“No more would I have him get up and give us every sordid detail than I would have a drug addict stand up and tell me everything you did, every drug you did, every horrible thing you did while loaded.
“You’ll do that in your recovery. But you don’t do that publicly. That’s shaming and damning, and could potentially hurt yourself and other people.”
Dr. Drew says, predictably perhaps, it’s now up to Tiger to stay on the road to recovery.
“He’s gotten the best care. But like with any addict, they don’t necessarily listen to the people providing the care.”
If Tiger does as well as Drew’s biggest success story, which patient would that be?
Jennie Ketcham, the former porn star Penny Flame.
“Jennie Ketcham is doing very well right now,” Drew says. “She’ll talk very vividly about her experience and how much better she is, and how much she’s regained her life and her whole sense of herself.”