What does redemption mean? Tiger Woods probably has some ideas about his hopes for redemption. Technically, redemption means ‘to redeem.’ Webster’s suggests several applicable meanings: “…to deliver from sin and its penalties, as by a sacrifice made for the sinner… to fulfill a promise or pledge… to make amends or atone for… to restore oneself to favor by making amends… to make worthwhile, justify…” In the case of Tiger Woods and Golf in general, the ironic synonym is RESCUE. It seems Tiger Woods is on track for redemption – or he is at least following the treatment formula. The contention of this post is that being self centered is not a function of mental illness – it is a function of immaturity. We further maintain that 12 Step Programs have been distorted by misguided treatment programs. And finally, we submit that Tiger’s redemption is possible – in spite of poorly advised treatment protocols.
Tiger’s treatment has been reported as being based on 12 Step Programs. People in general do not know what a 12 Step Program means – but people feel relieved because there is a generally accepted idea that the Alcoholics Anonymous based concept is the only idea in history that has proven effective. Listen to Tiger’s appeal for redemption in the following video, we’ll pick this up on the other side:
Redemption for Tiger will be a heavy lift. He is certainly using the addiction treatment language: ‘… strip away the denial and the rationalization… ‘ But this is not the language of 12 Step Programs. Addiction treatment in the last half of the 20th Century focused on denial as being particularly robust in addicts. Psychiatric science has disputed this belief – noting that denial in addicts is no more robust than in the general population. The idea of denial as a trait of addiction served an anecdotal purpose in treatment – this idea removed direct responsibility from the addict. After all, the denial was part of the disease – thus the addict could not be held directly accountable. The antiquated treatment model follows by saying that once educated, the addict becomes responsible for managing their denial. In the family treatment program Elin was surely informed that Tiger’s denial was a function of his mental illness – thus giving her permission to understand and forgive. This misguided treatment does not serve to promote healthy relationships. This model is a set up for rationalizing relapse.
Treatment professionals say that the first of the 12 steps directly addresses denial: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (insert any condition you choose to replace alcohol), that our lives had become unmanageable. But no where in the AA literature do they affirm the conclusion that this means robust denial. AA merely says that in order to address a problem you have to acknowledge you have a problem. This is not rocket science.
Tiger suggests he had to confess all of his sins to his wife and mother. This is a popular tactic used in last century treatment models – but it does not follow the traditions of 12 Step Programs. In fact, this directly contradicts the 12 Step process. Step Eight says: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Step Nine follows with: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, EXCEPT WHEN TO DO SO WOULD INJURE THEM OR OTHERS. The capital letters are mine. The second half of step nine directly challenges us to minimize harm to others. When the treatment authorities had Tiger dump all of his transgressions on his wife and mother they served only to further harm the innocent family. Achieving some sort of ‘spiritual cleansing’ at the expense of others is not spiritual cleansing – it merely continues the self serving behavior. True spirituality is considerate of the feelings of others.
We are not suggesting that a person not atone or make amends – but we are suggesting that there are appropriate methods that do not include further damage to family members. We submit here that the treatment process has made Tiger’s redemption with his family more difficult.
The redemption of Tiger Woods did not happen with blubbering confessions of sin, orchestrated by treatment programs based solely on anecdote. Consider again the definition: “…to fulfill a promise or pledge… to make amends or atone for… to restore oneself to favor by making amends… to make worthwhile, justify…” Punishing Tiger’s mother and wife served only to placate treatment professionals. The redemption of Tiger Woods can only happen with consistent trustworthy behavior over time.
We have written before on the topic of Tiger and Addiction Recovery: