BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT
Is it possible to be objective about the fate of this fallen hero? Perhaps the Greek formula for tragedy is a fit interpretation of Tiger Wood’s fall from grace: Korus, Hubris, Ate. The translation is pride goeth before a fall.
The usual extreme evaluations flow forth like multiple downpours. They range from the “moralists” who want to consign him to hell and worse, to the ‘psychologists’ who are quick to diagnose him as dissociated, a character disorder, schizoaffective disordered, an obvious sex addict and the likes.
All are understandable responses. But his story – like the man – appears to be much more complex than the small labels pinned on him. In my mind he seems to simultaneously embody both the American Dream and the American Tragedy.
The American Dream, at least for multitudes of American men (and maybe American women as well), appears to be the surface image of what Tiger Woods has been pictured. He’s young, good looking, charming, remarkably talented and skillful, uncommonly disciplined, at least with respect to his being a professional golfer. Added to the list is his huge fortune, attractive family, powerful influence, you name it. Up to now, with a snap of his fingers, he appeared to “have it all” literally in the palms of his hands. So appears the shiny surface.
On a deeper level – from a depth psychological perspective – he appeared – up to recently – to be able to beat the system: the existential system. Freud believed that all neurotic behavior can ultimately be traced to a person being mired in an unresolved Oedipus complex. The two legs of that complex is that a man presumably wants to “marry” his mother and in so doing steps over the “dead” body of his father – his rival. This is the positive Oedipus. There is also the reverse where the man wants to “marry” his mother and kill off his rival mother–the negative Oedipus complex.
Both halves of this unconscious romantic drama presumably exists in everyone whether they are aware of it or not and whether they care to care about it or not. For some people the positive complex is more prevalent, whereas for others – the reverse. But the core point is that this drama is in fact real and determines a great deal of what motivates human beings to act – often in seemingly incomprehensible, often contradictory and self defeating ways. (Women are not exempt from this complicated psychological layering. Their romantic drama is referred to as the electra complex). It is not uncommon to find that people unwittingly pick their psychological compliment like heat seeking missiles.
In any case – this normal drama is generally experienced as set of interlocking fantasies. But although fantasies, they have enormous motive power. They help to greatly explain why some people are fearful of success, are unreasonably guilty, suppress their aggression, choke when they are on the verge of winning a competition, scared to death they will be cut down in their prime of their lives, sometimes live split lives: one public and straight as an arrow, the other secretive and associated in many people’s valuations with the “cult of degeneracy.”
The normal course of the oedipal complex is that the idea of “marrying” one’s mother (or father) without their experiencing a painful sense of inadequacy and guilt and castration anxiety is indeed just a fantasy. If the normal three year old little boy could actually mate with his mother or father what would be the outcome in reality? The thought is absurd but in the unconscious all wishes are capable of coming true.
One such wish is that in a triangular affair i.e. for example a boy, his mother and father; or a grown man, his wife and one or more mistresses, in a “perfect” world “ no one’s nose would get out of joint. There would be no dust ups, absolutely no inner or outer conflict – only perfesion – perpetual perfect ease. Everyone would be loving, accepting, no disappointment, no jealousy, no envy, no conflict. It would be a quintessential romantic dream come true characterized by a sustained state of absolutely no realistic limitations.
Perhaps you can see where I am going. To be an integrated grownup – the Oedipus complex – positive or negative – must be renounced as an understandable childhood wish that cannot in reality ever be fulfilled without great psychological peril to the actor outer.
Obviously there are people who believe they have won the Oedipus, believing they have beat and can continue to beat the existential system. This fantasy of no limitation clearly has childhood origins but is continually reinforced by adult influences. Among them are a collective need of hero worshippers, advertisers who wish to promote fantasies of perfection for rather obvious reasons, all sorts of people who need to feel that at least a few people are capable of “beating the system” fueling their own desires for having it all with no undo push backs. Such people really believe or would like to believe that it is possible to truly always have a free lunch with no strings attached.
Our society tends to promote and encourage many of us to act out this dream. Indeed for a while and sometimes a great long while – it actually looks like some really can escape realistic limitations and have it all. And indeed it often does work for a long while until…. The Achilles heel of the person in question is pierced by a poison dart (public exposure) and that person’s American Dream turns into their American Tragedy….
No additional comments are necessary… everyone who is over 12 understands that to which I am alluding.
Lessons to be learned – (1) Be careful of what you want. (2) Real life, differentiated from the wishful driven life of a set of perfect childhood fantasies, is infinitely more complex than most of us would care to imagine and face up to.
To free oneself from this psychological mess requires the “fallen” to take a trip into his inner space, identify the splits, and dedicate himself to reconciling them. Or to put it more simply – the key to peace of mind is, as Socrates so aptly put it: know thyself. Plato added: cultivate a sound mind in a sound body. And Aristotle joined in: discover your own personal balance point.
Good sailing Tiger.