Dr. Michelle Golland: In her People Magazine interview, Elin Nordegren shared that she had no idea that her husband, Tiger Woods, had been having sex with more than 20 women in the past three and a half years. She also said that the word "betrayal" doesn't begin to describe what her feelings were when she found out about her husband's infidelities.
I have worked with couples wherein one of them claims to have had no idea that the affairs were going on. It seems that Elin was also a victim of Tiger's "good-guy" persona, and believed she was in a "real" marriage with him from the beginning.
Tiger's actions since last November tell me, for one, that his big issue is not sex addiction, but narcissistic personality disorder. That explains how Elin could actually believe she was in a "real" marriage, and how she could have been manipulated to such a degree that she honestly did not know of Tiger's multiple affairs.
In many ways, Elin was married to what I call a "shadow persona" -- a person who's not real, not tangible and can easily and quickly change form to suit himself. Tiger has operated in a world where what he wants and needs is paramount. He would only need to slightly placate those around him to continue the false life and false persona that he created early on as a child prodigy.
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I don't think Elin and Tiger ever had a real emotional connection, because I don't believe Tiger is capable of having authentic, deep feelings at this point. It was one-sided from the get-go, I believe, and Elin was just a pawn in Tiger's game -- his golf game, his endorsement game and his image game. I knew they would divorce when he went back to professional golf just three months after the media explosion that occurred last Thanksgiving weekend.
He cared more about his golf image and golf game than about Elin and his two children. He cared more about stroking his narcissistic ego by showing the world and (most importantly) himself that he still "had" it. I am not shocked that his golf game is at its worst, and frankly, I am pleased as well -- pleased because it shows that he has some serious personal therapy to do before he will ever return the top spot. Tiger's false sense of self has been forever exposed to all of us -- and especially Elin.
Elin wisely put in the divorce decree that Tiger is not allowed to bring women around the children. You see, she now knows that in the end, Tiger is only really thinking of Tiger, and she must protect the children from being exposed to the same thing that Tiger's father apparently exposed him to when he was little.
The level of deception Tiger was able to maintain, and his true lack of connection to his wife and children, only make sense if he is someone who has some serious emotional and psychological issues. While watching Tiger play golf or appear in the media, all I see is a shell of person who once had us all fooled with his larger-than-life shadow persona. The glare of the lights of reality made that all disappear. Now he's left with nothing. The shadow is gone, and he hasn't tried to build anything real or solid to replace it.