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Would A Sex Addiction Diagnosis Offer Tiger Woods "A Pass"?

Doctors and other mental health professionals around the globe are sounding off on the sex scandals that have taken over Tiger Woods’ life right now and one of the dominating opinions (for now, at least) seems to be sex addiction.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of VH1’s “Sex Rehab,” recently told ET, “It’s safe to say that sex addiction might be a part of his problem,” while David Smallwood, the addictions expert at the Priory clinic in London, claims, “All of the things Woods is alleged to have done point to him having a sex addiction.”

A sex addiction isn’t the only answer, of course. As Psych Central’s Dr. John Grohol pointed out earlier this week, there are numerous reasons for infidelity, and sport psychologist Richard Lustberg offered the old adage “men will be men” and pointed out that “well-to-do men who can afford a certain lifestyle, travel this way – there is gambling, eating, and, of course, women.”

We already know how much of the public would react if, say, Lustberg is right – if Tiger was simply (and trust me, I use that word lightly) enjoying the advantages a wealthy celebrity life offered him – and it isn’t pretty.

But, what if Woods is suffering from a sex addiction? How would the public react to that?

Judy Kuriansky, a psychologist, sex expert at Columbia University, and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to a Healthy Relationship, thinks the golfer might receive “a pass” from the public if a doctor were to give him a sex addiction diagnosis.

“Years ago, if you called someone a sex addict, that would be big shame. But now someone can hold up that diagnosis and say, ‘I can’t control my behavior.’ Then he goes into rehab and the public gives him a pass.” (

The idea of giving Woods “a pass” isn’t one that sits well with’s S.E. Cupp, who is more than a bit skeptical about the possible diagnosis.

“The affliction may be real, but it also keeps us from acknowledging the immorality of our actions. After all, we don’t call serial killers ‘murder addicts.’ Yet, anyway.

Buying into the notion gives us license to embrace a psychology gap that keeps us divorced from our own behavior. Discussing a clinical condition is easier than actual soul-searching. Who needs confession when you can just be absolved through therapy and rehab?

Over the past decade or two, psychologizing of this sort has become big business, crowding out so many basic moral judgments.” (

Personally, I don’t really think the public would give Tiger “a pass” if he were to receive a sex addiction diagnosis; rather, I think the public would be divided: Some would probably accept the diagnosis, wish (or not wish) him well in regards to treatment and family matters, and move on, while others would probably suspect it was some sort of “smoothing over” for obvious publicity reasons, and, move on.

I could be wrong, of course.

Giving someone “a pass” implies that person no longer has to accept responsibility (and, in some cases, consequences), and I just don’t feel an addiction diagnosis lends itself to that. When people are addicted to drugs or alcohol, we don’t give them a pass. We expect them to get treatment and stick to a recovery plan. The same is true when people are addicted to things other than substances – gambling and shopping, for example. We don’t give people passes for draining their bank accounts or stealing money from us. We, again, expect them to get treatment and stick to a recovery plan.

What’s your opinion? If Tiger Woods does receive a sex addiction diagnosis, do you think that gives him “a pass”?

Would A Sex Addiction Diagnosis Offer Tiger Woods "A Pass"?

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2019). Would A Sex Addiction Diagnosis Offer Tiger Woods "A Pass"?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Mar 2019
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