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Cheaters, Narcissists and Sex Addicts, OH MY!

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Let's face it --Tiger is not just a husband who is in a challenged marriage, but he is a serial cheater.

Tiger Woods

Dr. Michelle Golland: In my practice where I see couples dealing with infidelity, they fall into two categories.

1) An infidelity as a symptom of a marriage in distress.
2) Serial cheating, where the issues involve a marriage in distress and the serial cheater's deeper emotional problems including sexual addiction and an underlying depression or anxiety disorder or a narcissistic personality disorder is also a contributing factor.

Therapeutically dealing with a single infidelity is challenging enough, but if you are dealing with a serial cheater, the issues shift. An individual who repeatedly sleeps with multiple people while married will most likely be dealing with far deeper and more complex emotional issues.

These men and woman can have narcistic personality disorder. Narcissists are self-absorbed and tend to be highly charming. They have a constant need for admiration and attention. They are master manipulators and feel an emotional high with each new physical conquest. They often have multiple affairs going on at the same time, although none of them know about the other because again they are very good at manipulation. A serial cheater who is a narcissist is not just dealing with a lack of self-esteem, we are talking about the individual's personality and it is a pervasive part of their lifestyle. Interestingly, they never want to divorce and will usually fight tooth and nail to stay married, although it is highly predicted that they will continue their cheating ways. Personality disorders are extremely difficult to treat.

Sex addiction can also be at the root of the problem for the serial cheater. Sex addicts use sexual contact and sexual conquests the same way that other addicts use drugs, alcohol, gambling, or shopping. They are trying to numb emotional pain or fill a never-ending pit of emotional emptiness. They often display risky behavior and use sex to feel attractive and powerful. Often for the sexual addict, these behaviors are trying to push down feelings of depression and sadness. A true sign of addiction is when the behaviors simply don't make sense and seem out of control.

In the case of Tiger Woods, it is unclear which of these issues are at play in his psyche but clearly his double life of multiple ongoing sexual relationships with numerous women points to a much deeper issue than simply a challenged marriage. As a professional athlete, Tiger would experience intense rushes of emotions and may try to recreate that intense feeling. These emotions, coupled with the loss of his father, manager, and mentor, may have made him ripe to go down the road to an addiction of some kind to fend off his painfully deep sadness.

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous December 14, 2009, 11:45 AM

I don’t think the sex addictions have as many long standing affairs as Tigers has had. They tend to go from one to another to another. Tiger had many affairs that lasted for long long time. Narcissist Yes, sex addict No.

Leeza December 15, 2009, 5:50 AM

I believe that deep down in Tiger’s conscience, he wanted to get caught. He knows that he is powerless over his multiple addictions. It’s really sad that his money and power paved the way for him to commit dozens of long term affairs, witnessed by literally hundreds of witnesses,participants and enablers that stayed silent for the money he offered them. Not even one true friend ever confronted him to tell him to STOP and seek therapy or else!That’s obvious, due to the headlines that keep mounting daily.All Tiger’s friends are on his payroll(hmmm).Tiger clearly has been using sex and other addictions to mask his excruciating emotional pain, suffering and loneliness.Obviously, it’s not working, for he can’t seem to get enough of a fix for his cravings.Tiger needs “in patient” extensive therapy and counseling, in order to get to the root of his suffering.Away from temptation and enablers.He will discover who he really is, what he really needs, and a way to find peace, contentment and serenity in his life. Most likely that will include a lifetime membership to the 12 step program.

elin December 19, 2009, 12:39 AM

Tiger needs to grow up

Pharmg93 January 1, 2010, 10:00 AM

Very nice site!

Charles Saltalamacchia January 14, 2010, 9:52 PM

so interesting

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