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Tiger Should Focus on Family, Not His Brand

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Tiger Woods was spot-on when he said, "Every one of you has good reason to be critical of me."

Tiger Woods

Dr. Michelle Golland: Watching him make his on-air statement, I saw a father and son who is truly broken. Getting in-patient treatment is no easy road -- especially for someone like Tiger, who in the days prior to entering treatment was still trying to cover his tracks and keep his own lies going.

Tiger's in recovery all right -- and not just from sex addiction. Personally, I think he has an underlying issue: Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In his statement, Tiger spoke about feeling "entitled" and said that (before getting caught) he'd thought that normal boundaries "didn't apply" to him because of his "money and fame." This narcissism began when he was a child, I think; after all, he was a prodigy on the golf course by age 4.

I hope Tiger doesn't lose sight of the fact that (as he said in his statement), "It's not what you achieve in life that matters -- it is what you overcome." But contrived statements like that one did smack of kissing up, like Tiger was trying to recover his sponsorships and financial earnings, and not just his character. (In other words, he's still focused on achievement, not on overcoming the challenge of healing the deep wounds he's inflicted on others.) 

As a husband, Tiger has destroyed his marriage and left wife Elin in the wreckage. Her anger and pain are unfathomable. It seems that she was also duped into believing in Tiger's well-crafted image. In a way, he was using her in this charade, too. And his narcissism and sense of entitlement turned her world upside down. The couple's marriage is still very precarious.

Tiger has brought shame and pain to his mother, Kultida, as well. Her disappointment and anger must also be mixed with fear and concern about her son's mental health. She sat at today's press conference with her arms crossed and her eyes downcast -- which to me showed frustration and sadness. I'm sure she had been unaware of Tiger's infidelities, too. Tiger's irresponsibility may be making her question how she raised him, and how she may have contributed to his deep-rooted issues and narcissistic ways. What a painful, gut-wrenching position for a parent to be in.

As a father, Tiger may not see the damage he's inflicted upon his children until they're older. Right now, Sam and Charlie are young; I'm sure they're feeling confused, sad and anxious about not having contact with their father. (Given Tiger's golf career, though, this period of separation may not have been as uncommon as we'd imagine.) The greatest damage may be seen when the kids get older and begin to have their own relationships. Whether they reconcile with their dad or not, Tiger's children will be aware of their father's infidelity -- and because of this knowledge, they may have trust issues in their own future relationships.

I think Tiger's treatment would go far better if it focused not on him recovering his image or career -- which seems to be the case -- but on his therapy, family and spiritual beliefs. I appreciate his desire to apologize to his golf colleagues and those he worked for (who put their trust and money into him and his image). But as a psychologist who often deals with issues like Tiger's, it's apparent to me that a quick resurrection may be detrimental to Tiger's treatment.

If Tiger recovers his image too quickly -- and gets back on the golf course with his sponsors' love and money and power -- it will feed right into his narcissism. It will be very unhealthy for his recovery if this extremely bad thing he did gets "handled" in a matter of months. If I were working with him, I would require a real break from his "job," so he could do deep work individually and with Elin -- without the distraction of returning to golf or recovering his brand. Tiger's going to have to be responsible for stopping, though, because let's face it: The PGA and his sponsors see dollar signs when they look at him.

Tiger is correct: Elin has handled these traumatic and humiliating months with grace and poise. It was important that she not be by his side during this conference, but that he take full and total responsibility for his selfish and destructive actions. I would suggest to Elin that, should she decide to work on the marriage, she make it one of her conditions that Tiger take a year to truly and deeply focus on his personal issues and recapture his Buddhist beliefs. If Tiger wants to develop integrity and battle the demons of narcissism and sex addiction, it's going to be a long road. It's going to require his full and total commitment.

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
wctw February 20, 2010, 5:23 AM

For the most part of the article, I agreed with the author. But I did not concur on Tiger taking a break as long as a year. I think it is better off blending back to golf but not to s full swing. No doubt, each family needs a balanced family with more time together. But Tiger is a “dead” man if he is at home doing nothing. Golf is his profession and which he feels comfortable with. I think he needs to continue in marriage counselling as well as finidng a good life coach. It also takes elapse time for both these to benefit, so sitting around at home won’t keep the man time engaged. Tiger also needs to rebuild his social life with better friends. It is better for him to resume somewhat normal momentum but carry on his therapy in longer elapse. I think he needs to continue step off golf for 2 or more months and then blend into golf but at reduced scale of say no more than 50% intensity than in the past. This will give him the due time to his family as well.

Anonymous February 20, 2010, 8:39 AM

I don’t believe he is sorry. That was a prepared speech written for him.

Jen February 20, 2010, 10:10 AM

The only people he needs to apologize to is his family!! The man is a great golfer and as long as he’s not doing anything illegal to improve his game, it’s none of my business if he has affairs.

Casey Downs February 20, 2010, 11:08 AM

I also agree that Tiger Wood’s making a
Public Apology is none of any of our

His regret should be for his family and it has no reason to be in the Public Spotlight.

What goes on in his life is Personal!

That is why we all have personal live’s,
doing a conference to me just hurt’s his loved one’s more.

Say you are Sorry to the people who
deserve it, don’t make yourself so
Important that you think we need to know
your ” PERSONAL BUSINESS!!” , we don’t.

To me it sound’s like a Publicity Stunt.

Be true to your loved one’s and stop making it worse.

Everyone has a personal life, we don’t need to know your’s!
Only the important people in your life should matter , not Nike or a Web-Site.

You did not sound sincere, and my nephew’s have never looked up to you for your personal life! They don’t even like golf. Your sport or job is your’s, as is your personal life - should be left
None of us need or want to know it!!
Rhode Island

Melody February 20, 2010, 12:01 PM

I have more admiration for you because you can admit you were wrong, apologize and make amends.
That is what should be important to the whole world. You are only a man.Your pride & arrogance made you fall.Your humility & repentance is what will make you a truly great man. Nobody needs to know any particulars of your mistakes.That is between you & God. I hope your lovely wife can forgive it is truly a gracious person that can - but your repentance & amends are vital to help heal you both. After numerous affairs my ex-husband never apologized, never made amends to the family who adored him.
I forgave him but he never forgave himself nor made amends. After 12 years, he is his still own destruction & this still affects his grown children negatively because of this selfishness. I pray you & your family will be left safely to yourselves.You have made your amends to your public.Your amends to your family are private.~Melody J.~

CLB February 20, 2010, 7:52 PM

I like your articule very much.
I think that Tiger has realized that in order to save his marriage he needs to get help to address his issues and this is was he is doing.He is putting his carrer/golf on hold to get better. he said that the best apology that he can give Elin is through his actions not through words.I think he is now on the right path but recovery can take time. I hope that everything work out for the best for Tiger, Elin and their children.

Sara February 21, 2010, 5:05 AM

His marriage should be over. I’m shocked when people just assume that she’d stay with him after she found out what he’s done. Being a cheater doesn’t make him a bad father so I don’t see how he needs to focus on his family.

He needs to focus on himself and his problem (assuming there is a real addiction there) and perhaps the public apology is part of his recovery.

JIMMD February 21, 2010, 8:53 AM

I can understand why so many people are cynical and suspicious of Tiger’s motives. His Narcissism has dominated his life since childhood, and it is going to take a long time for him to let go of it. He seems to have made a good start, in my opinion, but we have to remember that he is only about 7 weeks into his therapy. He controlled the TV apology, as a man with his need to be in control would at this stage. The fact that he is beginning to see his narcissistic traits should be encouraging. The press and most of the blogs focus on the sexual stuff, but this is only one symptom of his problem, not the core issue.I hope he doesn’t try to return to tournament golf to soon. Certainly the Masters is much too early, if he really is going to make some changes. The proof of he pudding is in the eating, and we really won’t know if he succeeds in his therapy for a long time.

adelaide dancing February 21, 2010, 9:39 PM

very interesting analysis, although, where is oprah and dr phil when you need them?

Angel April 8, 2010, 8:25 PM

Funny guys! Tiger has ruined his marriage,his wife and kids trust,and his social standing.He does not have an addiction.He is a powerful man who can,and does,get what he wants.Because of yet more publicity,he is getting more of what he wants.
Men cheat because they can,and will do so no matter what,as long as they dont think they will get caught.
he will just bide his time,lay low.and wait for his next chance to do it again.Period.

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