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Tiger Woods, who has reportedly checked into a Mississippi sex rehab facility in a bid to save his marriage (and maybe a few of those lucrative sponsorship deals), obviously has some issues. But is he really a sex addict?
That's between Tiger and his (reported) doctors. Because, according to Maureen Canning, a sex therapist and the author of Lust, Anger, Love: Understanding Sexual Addiction and the Road to Healthy Intimacy, there's actually no official diagnosis for the condition, although there are certain criteria used to evaluate individuals. "Just like with a chemical addiction, we try to find out what the progression is, what the consequences of the behavior are. People can be in denial for a long time," she says.
Canning has a simple way of separating the addicts from otherwise healthy types who just happen to really, really love having sex. "I ask, 'After you’ve had sex, how do you feel? Do you feel shame?' Then it's probably not healthy. 'Or do you feel love, connection and warmth?'" Being able to tell the difference is a sign you're in a good place (as a side note, you might want to think twice about engaging in activities that bring you shame). What separates most sex addicts, says Canning, is that they "don’t know the difference. They confuse intensity for love."
As for what Woods' days may be like in rehab, well, the sports star is probably not playing much golf. "It's a busy day," says Canning, describing life at The Meadows, the Wickenburg, Ariz., facility she directs. "Up by 8 a.m., off to a meeting, then a lecture, process groups with peers, then another lecture. We do 12-step meetings in the evening. They meet with psychiatrists and psychologists. It's a 12-hour day." What's more, patients are required to swear off all sexual activity, including masturbation.
But that doesn't mean Woods necessarily has to swear off contact with women. Canning says she encourages coed therapy groups "because it allows them to see the opposite sex in a totally different light. They can feel compassion."
And maybe temptation? Kari Ann Peniche, the former beauty queen who appeared on Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, says that coed groups at California’s Pasadena Recovery Center on Sex Rehab didn’t lure her to relapse. "There was no one I was really attracted to in our group!"
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