Disorderly Golf

January 21, 2010 6:55 PM

Tiger's Special Treatment

And so now it appears we know at last where Tiger Woods is: in a sex addiction clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  I don't know if I believe sex addiction is truly a disease, or rather a response to opportunity unavailable to the average blogger.  Regardless of my own feelings, on Monday writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis posted a searing portrayal of the treatment offered for the disorder at the clinic, and now has offered an impassioned plea on behalf of those who suffer from this addiction. Mr. Denizet-Lewis has taken down his previous post, out of concerns that by identifying the clinic by name and detailing its practices, he may have made it more difficult for those pursuing its program to be successful and maintain their anonymity.

The treatment described by Mr. Denizet-Lewis, himself a recovering sex addict, involves a group model familiar to those who have gone through rehab for other addictions.  As part of the process, the addict is made aware of the hurt he has done to others; a letter describing that hurt in excruciating detail is prepared by the addict's spouse, and read to him out loud in front of the group.  The addict must write a thorough account of his betrayals, which he likewise reads aloud to the group.  He has a roommate throughout the program. Patients plan and attend meals together. Sex is prohibited, including masturbation.  There are no special privileges. 

This is not, apparently, the way things are for Tiger Woods.  According to an exclusive report in the National Enquirer -- consider the source, yes, but they've been accurate and in front on the entire Tiger story -- he is in a separate chalet that he was allowed to decorate, receives maid service, and is receiving one-on-one counseling from clinic staff rather than participating in all aspects of the group process.  (It is not clear from the reports if the one-on-one sessions are in addition to some group meetings or in place of them.)  The clinic has refused comment, as it should.

It's easy to be outraged at this.  If truly acknowledging your shortcomings is an essential part of the recovery process, along with recognizing that you are not unique or special or above the consequences of your actions, then these special privileges may diminish the effectiveness of the treatment.  If these were preconditions for Tiger's entry into the clinic, they may have been self-defeating.

But is it remotely realistic to think that he could go through addiction treatment like everybody else?  With the events of the past two months as backdrop, what are the chances that the details he would have to reveal to his fellow patients would remain confidential?  It's one thing to trust the discretion of your fellow addict when you are both relatively unknown; it's quite another thing when leaked details could easily bring hefty financial rewards.

Tiger's world is indeed different from the one in which the rest of us live.  Most of the time, it's to his benefit.  If he is truly determined to mend his marriage and change his ways, it would be a shame if his global fame, earned through his ability to keep anything from coming between him and his goals, kept him from achieving this one.  


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