Tiger Woods and So-Called Sexual Addiction

Tiger Woods People of power and privilege, both men and women,  historically have engaged in extramarital affairs.  Having money and time on their hands, they indulge in all of life's pleasures, including extramarital sex.  A big difference today, however, is that journalists and the internet make it certain that eventually they will be caught.

"I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to.  I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me.  I felt I was entitled.  Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have to go far to find them," Woods said in his recent press conference.

Talented Tiger Woods, through hard work and discipline, rose to the pinnacle of success in the world of golf, and fame and riches followed.  In his private life, married to a beautiful woman and the father of two adorable children, he seemed centered, modest, and generous, funding important programs to benefit underprivileged children.  

But once the sordid truth about Tiger's multiple extramarital affairs were exposed, he needed cover, so he signed himself into a kind of "sanitarium" where people rich enough to engage in excessive sexual activity also can afford the treatment.   When he made his first public statements a few days ago, I was glad he never used the phrase "sexual addiction," because personally I do not see excessive sex, excessive eating, excessive gambling, excessive exercising or excessive working as "addictions."  One can use sex, like all of these activities, to deal with anxiety, loneliness and feelings of emptiness, and all of these activities help people avoid addressing their deeper and more painful issues.   In my opinion these are neurotic compulsive behaviors that can be successfully addressed in insight oriented therapies. 

It is possible that Tiger Woods's issues are more banal.  Prior to being caught, he was disciplined in keeping his game topnotch and keeping in top physical shape.  He was very focused and able to maintain his image.  Perhaps he is just another rich and famous man with strong narcissistic traits and an extraordinary sexual appetite and simply wanted to satisfy it while it lasted.

Based on some of his public statements a few days ago, however, and his plan to go back into therapy at the treatment center where he had been, he may indeed suffer from neurotic compulsive behaviors that can be treated with insight oriented analysis. 

"My real apology to [Elin] will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time," Woods said.  Only time will tell his wife and the rest of us whether Tiger Woods can keep his resolve to never engage in extramarital behavior again.

I'm Dr. Blokar.  For more information, click on the following resources:  

Healing the Hurt Behind Addictions and Compulsive Behaviors 

No Stones:Women Redeemed From Sexual Addiction  

Deceived:Facing Sexual Betrayal, Lies, and Secrets 

The Psychophysiology of Sex 

Addicted?:Recognizing Destructive Behaviors Before It's Too Late 

Facing the Shadow:Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery  


Abuse of Prescription and Over the Counter Drugs and Alcohol

Brittany murphy In the entertainment industry there have been many performers who have died after accidentally or intentionally overdosing on prescription medications.  Most recently, 32-year-old actress Brittany Murphy died, and while we don't yet have the autopsy report, we did hear that lots of prescription medications were found in her bedroom.

But what about people who are not part of the Hollywood, show business rat race?  It is estimated that more than 50% of young women take prescription drugs, with mood-enhancing stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs being the most used.  Since stimulants often make people feel "wired," stimulants are often followed by sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs, creating a dangerous, vicious cycle.

Many people claim that they must take these medications in order to perform well, but steady use of them can lead to serious mood disturbances, causing a person to become irritable, angry and almost manic.  It may even trigger a psychotic manic episode during which all kinds of irrational and violent acts may be committed.

If one adds over the counter medications to some prescription medications, the combination can actually be deadly.  Taking cold medications containing Pseudoephedrine  along with a hefty dose of a stimulant can cause a serious, sometimes fatal, increase in blood pressure and heart rate.  Similarly, liberal use of pain killers which are opioid derivatives, taken with commonly used antihistamines or alcohol, can lead to a dangerous reduction in heart rate and breathing and can be fatal.

People, besides using drugs unwisely, often also drink too heavily.  Alcohol is a potent central nervous system suppressant, and reckless or violent acts are often committed because of alcohol's disinhibiting effect.  Depression, a lasting mood disorder, is a less known but serious consequence of alcohol abuse.

While young people's bodies can usually take lots of abuse and recuperate, every once in awhile the combination or quantity can be deadly.  We will soon know if this is what led to Brittany Murphy's untimely death.

I'm Dr. Blokar.  For more information, click on the following resources:

Overcoming Prescription Drug Addiction:A Guide to Coping and Understanding

High Society:How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It 

Generation RX:Kids on Pills-A Parent's Guide 

Performance Enhancing Medications and Drugs of Abuse 

The Chemical Carousel:What Science Tells Us About Beating Addictions 

Prescription Drugs(Drug Abuse & Society:Cost to a Nation) 

Connecticut Cocktail 

Adolescent Substance Abuse:Research and Clinical Advances 

Drug and Alcohol Abuse:A Clinical Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment 

Prescription Drug Abuse(What's the Deal?) 

Prescription Drug Addiction:The Hidden Epidemic  

Are We Taking Too Many Medications for Mental Problems?

Tcruise  There are some psychiatrists who have made a career out of lecturing and writing books on the uselessness and harmfulness of psychotropic medications, that is medications used to treat mental and emotional illness, and  some studies even argue that antidepressant medications are ineffective. Then there was Tom Cruise, who as a scientologist first berated and then apologized to Brooke Shields after she talked about taking medication to help her through postpartum depression.

So when are psychotropic medications necesssary?  Most psychotic illnesses, such as Schizophrenia, and most severe mood disorders, such as Bipolar Disorder, require medications to control the worst symptoms.  And I believe that people with certain forms of Depression, like Brooke Shields,  and those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be helped by medication as well. 

Depressions that occur as a result of traumatic events or great losses may or may not require use of medications.  If the situation becomes extremely painful and interferes with one's ability to function, however, medications should be prescribed.  Although the depression is caused by external events, there are still chemical changes in the brain like the chemical changes in the brains of people with innate chronic mental illness, and medication can correct the imbalance in the brain's neurotransmitters.  As a result, despite life's difficulites and/or losses, one's mood improves, one's outlook brightens, and problem-solving possibilities open.

People with OCD can be greatly helped by medication.  Although seemingly reasonable and normal, people with OCD are plagued by constant, involuntary, intrusive thoughts that interfere with paying attention to anything else.  They often have the urge to perform a ritual, such as hand washing, in order to alleviate tension.  Behavioral Therapy may help patients with OCD, resulting in the need for less or even no medication.

None of us should forget that the availability of psychtropic medications has reduced the need for long-term institutionalization of patients who were often restrained under terrible conditions in places closed long ago.   Now when patients are hospitalized, it is under much more humane conditions and, thanks to medications, for much shorter periods of time. 

I'm Dr. Blokar. For more information, click on the following resources:

Clinical Handbook of Psychotropic Drugs

Clinical Psychopharmacology Made Ridiculously Simple 

Psychotropic Drugs:Fast Facts Fourth Edition 

Medicines for Mental Health:The Ultimate Guide to Psychiatric Medication 

Psychotropic Drugs  

Borderline Personality Disorder:In Life and In the Movies

Kurt_cobain2 Borderline personality disorder affects more women than men (75% of cases are women).  People with this disorder are ill-defined, shifty and impulsive and often lead dramatic, chaotic and "crazy" lives.  Their relationships are intense and often short-lived. They frantically try to avoid real or imagined abandonment, and they react to perceived or real abandonment  with feelings of emotional emptiness, intense rage and demands.

In more severe cases, the sufferer may not be able to decide on sexual preferences, may abuse drugs and alcohol, and may suffer from brief psychotic episodes when reality and the imagined become confused.  Sometimes sufferers from this disorder engage in self-mutilation and attempt suicide, which results in hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital.

When these fragile people are talented and charming, however, they can be interesting, fun and delightful, albeit for a short time.

Bette Midler's character in "The Rose," inspired by the life and travails of Janis Joplin, depicts a person with borderline personality disorder.   "Heavier Than Heaven," the movie about Kurt Cobain, also depicts a character with borderline personality disorder.  And who can forget Liza Minelli's portrayal of Sally In "Cabaret?"

Sally is a talented, young performer in pre-war Germany. She is a temptress and a child (watch the heart-breaking scene before she is to meet her father).  After hurting and trampling upon those who care about her, she wonders why she is alone, needy, empty, fragile and desperate.  She takes no responsibility for hurting people who love her, and she has no insight into her actions or her self-destructive tendencies.  She wants to find something solid to hold on to, but she is unable to recognize it when it comes her way, leaving her to be thrown around without aim or direction in the sea of her contradictory, raging emotions and emptiness.

Movies often provide insight into disorders of the human mind and allow one to be educated and entertained at the same time.

I'm Dr. Blokar.

To learn more, check out the following:

The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide

The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder:New Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells 

Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies 

Heavier Than Heaven:A Biography of Kurt Cobain 

Scars of Sweet Paradise:The Life and Times of Janis Joplin