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Mental Illness, Hypersexuality and Tiger Woods September 8, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Bipolar Disorder, mental illness, Therapy.
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Bipolar Magazine had an issue that discussed the hidden symptom of mania: sex.  As in lots of it.  BP Magazine’s September 9, 2009 issue “Confronting Mania’s Secret Symptom” addressed the issue of sex as it relates to manic behavior.   It is a well-known but rarely discussed fact that many people in the middle of manic episodes have a very high level of sexual energy, and they use that energy in different ways. This high degree of focus on sex is called hypersexuality.  It’s way beyond regular sexuality. Check out the article at  http://www.bphope.com/Item.aspx?id=522

Mental illness has been known to break up many marriages and family relationships simply because the relationships couldn’t withstand the emotional devastation that this particular symptom caused. That’s not even considering the health risks of sexually transmitted disease, AIDS, and pregnancy resulting from that risky behavior.

If someone has been diagnosed to have a particular mental illness with hypersexuality as one of its symptoms, it would probably help many marriages and relationships heal if they could view the sexual hypersexuality in the context of being a symptom of a mental illness. It is worth it to at least rule out the possibility that the person exhibiting that behavior might have a mental illness. If they are found to have a mental illness, the hypersexuality symptom needs to be viewed as another symptom of mental illness, just like hearing voices might be a symptom of someone with schizophrenia or forgetting people might be a symptom of Alzheimer’s.  Putting the hypersexuality symptom in that perspective might save relationships.

That doesn’t mean that every philanderer has a mental illness.  But those exhibiting the hypersexuality behavior so characteristic of someone with a mental illness should be assessed. The more flamboyant the actions, the greater number of partners, the more symptoms of hypersexuality a person demonstrates, the more important it is to rule out mental illness as the cause of their over-the-top behavior.

One of the most famous cases of possible undiagnosed mental illness is Tiger Woods.  His larger than life hypersexuality behavior gives one pause.  Is this a symptom of a mental illness?

According to the news media, right after Tiger was “caught” by his wife having sex with numerous women, he went into treatment for a sex addiction in an (unsuccessful) attempt to save his marriage. At that time, after learning of the large number of women that he was having sex with (I think the number got to 12 before I stopped paying attention), I wondered if he had been assessed for a mental illness.  It certainly wouldn’t be surprising, given the circumstances of his stressful life in a fishbowl.

Because of the stigma of having a mental illness, Tiger isn’t likely to come out in public with any mental illness diagnosis that he might have received.  I can only hope that, if he indeed was diagnosed with a mental illness, his wife would have waited for his treatment plan to kick in (including any medication) before throwing in the towel.  Theirs is a scene played out privately all over the world on a daily basis.

With the education of people that hypersexuality may be a symptom of a mental illness, I hope it will encourage people to seek out help before giving up on their marriage or relationship. “In Sickness and in Health” were part of their wedding vows.  This is the “Sickness” part.



1. David E - April 7, 2012

Now I’m not the only one who thinks he’s bipolar.

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