Tiger Woods a Sex Addict? Only If He's Lucky

Addiction might explain golfer's many alleged affairs, offer way to redemption.

December 9, 2009, 6:33 PM

Dec. 10, 2009— -- Reports of alleged sexual encounters in a church parking lot, after watching a Tom Hanks movie, and with two porn stars, a lingerie model and a breakfast waitress -- among others -- were quickly followed this week by headlines and talk-show guests wondering aloud if the world's No. 1 golfer, Tiger Woods, is a "sex addict."

The jury is still out on whether Woods is addicted to sex, psychologists told ABC News.com, explaining that such a diagnosis requires several criteria, including determining if he can control his urges, and whether not having sex makes him anxious.

"There are a lot of people out there calling him a sex addict," said Judy Kuriansky, a psychologist and sex expert at Columbia University. "But you have to ask is this really the behavior of an addict, or this the behavior of a very rich, powerful, celebrity, man, who has been given lots of opportunities?"

Ironically, if Woods declares himself an addict, it might prove to be the one path to redemption, Kuriansky said.

"Once you medicalize it, once you call it 'sex addiction' then the guy has an excuse; he gets a pass," said Kuriansky, author of "The Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship."

"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," she said.

Several celebrities, including actors Michael Douglas and David Duchovny, have admitted to being sex addicts and have sought treatment.

In the days since Woods wrecked his car early on the morning of Nov. 27 outside his Florida home, sparking rumors of marital problems and a flood of allegations of marital infidelities, tabloids have claimed the golfer engaged in affairs with at least 11 women.

Steamy details have emerged from some of the women who have admitted to dalliances with the wealthy golfer, including the recent publication of a series of text messages in which Woods allegedly planned meetings with 24-year-old waitress Jamiee Grubbs and asked her to "send something very naughty."

Another woman, Mindy Lawton, 33, a waitress at a diner near Woods' home in Orlando, told British tabloid News of the World that the golfer had an insatiable sex drive.

"He had such a big sex drive and wanted it fulfilled," Lawton told the paper."Sometimes I looked like a rag doll after we'd made love," she said. "He really did like it quite rough. He wanted to spank me and loved pulling my hair as we had sex. He also liked me to talk dirty to him, but hair-pulling was what really turned him on."

Sex addiction is one way to explain Woods' behavior, but it is not the only one, said sport psychologist Richard Lustberg.

Woods' affairs are not that unusual for any man, but particularly not that unusual for a professional athlete, he said.

"Men will be men," he said. "Well-to-do men who can afford a certain lifestyle, travel this way – there is gambling, eating, and, of course, women. There are businesses that cater to them specifically," he said.

"But there is also a certain culture among professional athletes. They're on the road for months out of the year, and they're constantly being exposed to a multitude of opportunity. They're constantly going from city to city -- sometimes, they hang out in the hotel, and sometimes they go to clubs," he said.

Lustberg said there was nothing specific to pro athletes that made them more prone to cheating, but both he and Kuriansky agreed that celebrities, used to getting a rush from their jobs, whether they are politicians, athletes, or rock musicians, often look for a similar rush through sex.

Woods' alleged desire to sleep with other women may also have been a byproduct of problems in his marriage or psychological reactions to those problems, the psychologists said.

"Men who sleep with lots of women often have intimacy issues. It is hard to know why he's doing it," Lustberg said.

Some of the women have come forward to allege affairs that happened around the time Woods was starting a family.

Woods and his wife have two children together, a daughter Sam, 2, and son Charlie, 10 months.

"His relationship with Elin is something important to consider. She's now his wife and mother of his children. He might be picking women who are going to act out sexual fantasies that he feels like he cannot ask of his wife," said Kuriansky.

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