The League

Dr. Matthew Prowler
Resident Psychiatrist

Dr. Matthew Prowler

Resident Psychiatrist at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Illegal contact?


Sound familiar?

Accused, but not yet charged, Ben Roethlisberger awaits his legal fate. First comes the criminal case, but a potential civil suit looms ahead. He has been in similar territory before, with a suit stemming from an alleged sexual assault in 2009.

Emerging from this winter of Tiger's discontent and the media maelstrom that followed, we are again considering an athlete's bedroom (or barroom) behavior. Clearly, the cases are quite different. Profile. Image. Marital status. And more than infidelity, this is a criminal case.

But both men continued to pursue high-risk, sexualized behavior when each had much to lose by it. Why? Some (including Tiger himself) have said it is due to greed or selfishness.

Could this inability to avoid risky sexual behavior qualify as an addiction? Tiger sought rehabilitation. Perhaps if the smoke clears from Roethlisberger's legal woes, he will be led to a similar diagnosis.

But does sex addiction exist?

Upon this, there is controversy in the psychiatric field. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) - IV does not identify 'sexual addiction' as a disorder. However, many studies have found that subjects experience differential activation in reward systems when presented with the same desirable stimuli.

Experts in the field of psychiatry are currently working on a revised manual, the DSM-V. Many new disorders will be described and defined. One of these may be "Hypersexual Disorder."

Besides exhibiting recurrent sexual urges, to meet criteria for this disorder, the patient's sexual behavior must be associated with "impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning."

Big Ben may meet these criteria. So might Tiger. In fact, so might millions of Americans. But is it a pathological condition? The evidence remains inadequate.

In the meantime, it could end up just a new excuse for the same old bad behavior.

By Dr. Matthew Prowler  |  March 12, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Ben Roethlisberger , Dr. Matthew Prowler , NFL , Pittsburgh Steelers , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I HOPE SOMEBODY GOES AND PROTEST Ben Roethlisberger FOR RAPING WOMEN LIKE HE'S Pepe Le Pew!!!!! and Mark McGuire too sense you missed heckling him because he left before you found out. If Ben can play then Adam “Pacman” Jones can to. They gave pacman an “Outside the Lines” report but Floyd Landis an Ben get a line across the screen. Look at the leader of 2 Superbowls for the Steeler taking Pu$$$y but Nancy Grace comes out for Tiger Woods, Chris Brown, Kobe, Vick and even Charles Barkley but no Roethlisberger media monster to feed!! Where is Roger Clemens’ “Game of Shadows”. You haters are funny like that. The media monster is chasing Glenn Beck’s viewers and rating. I see now. Bottom line is that if Ben can be the face of a franchise then I think Adam “Pacman” Jones can play and Vick hurt dogs but Ben rapes women!!!!!!

Posted by: gokusc1 | March 12, 2010 3:19 AM

I worry I may have to boycott football. It depends on how the NFL and the Rooneys handle this next case involving Mr. Roethlisberger. The counter-accusations surrounding the first case were worrisome enough. This is a very different case, of course, and I'm willing to wait for the criminal investigation to conclude. But this time I'm watching more carefully the NFL's handling of this situation. It would be disilllusioning if the NFL (once again) turns a blind eye to Mr. Roethlisber's belittling counter-accusations of a woman who alleges sex assault. That old game of making the sex assault victims into prostitutes trying to get a fat settlement check from the naive, trusting quarterback is old and tired. Rape is already an under-reported crime because of this type of double-victimization by alleged perpetrators. I was disappointed but not surprised by Mr. Roethlisberger's agent's statement that allegations of sex assault against his client are bound to happen--apparently women are just waiting and plotting to accuse Roethlisberger in order to make some quick cash. Well, that's patently absurd. I don't see any other NFL quarterback so similarly targeted. This alleged sex assault in Georgia is a very serious crime, it is being investigated by police, and the victim who has made the criminal complaint and been treated by a hospital for injuries in the disputed incident should be treated with the dignity and the privacy she deserves. The NFL should not allow Mr. Roethlisberger or his agent to spout off accusations that would further victimize this girl. The NFL's permissive attitude with these outrageous counter-accusations could have allowed this second alleged assault to take place. It's hard to tell. What's not hard to tell is this--women make up a large part of the NFL's viewership. We're watching the NFL's handling of this incident. Our husbands are watching, too.

Posted by: ckloebach | March 12, 2010 5:15 PM

But does sex addiction exist? No and it's no legal defense. Predators as victims is nonsense. Ben does not seem predatory to me. I've seen predatory women in action. It all comes down to evidence and what can prevail in court. From what I have seen, he doesn't have anything to worry about. He could stand a little more common sense, but so can a lot of people.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 12, 2010 8:30 PM

Roethlisberger isn't married with children like Tiger.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 12, 2010 8:48 PM

There is a big difference between these two athletes. Tiger Woods may have had consensual affairs with other women, but he is no rapist. Lest we forget, Mr. Roethlisberger stands accused of sexual assault for the second time now. It is simply despicable to suggest any similarity between these two situations. Assaulting a woman is a barbaric act, and any man who would commit such a crime is a piece of scum. Dr. Prowler, I am outraged that you are trying to paper over this difference.

If these charges are true, Mr. Roethlisberger belongs in prison, not on a football field. He deserves his day in court -- but if he's guilty, he should burn in Hell...

Posted by: jerkhoff | March 12, 2010 11:22 PM

In no way do I wish to condone, justify, or excuse the actions of which Roethlisberger is currently accused. I apologize to readers if this was not made sufficiently evident in the column. The facts of this case remain unclear but, if true, the actions described are illegal, despicable, and clearly different from infidelity, although there is a sexual nature to them -- this crucial difference was pointed out in the piece.
M.Prowler, MD

Posted by: mprowler | March 13, 2010 11:44 AM

At this point, with one assault case still in civil court and the latest allegation under investigation by the State of Georgia, the only thing Ben Roethlisberger is guilty of is being a SERIAL IDIOT.

He damn near killed himself riding helmet-less on a motorcycle and, with his misadventures with young women, he is living proof of the axiom that "nothing good happens at 2AM."

With all his football smarts, he has the common sense of a dope. Whatever the outcome, I trust the Rooney's to handle the situation. If they don't,the NFL surely will.

Posted by: franthefan | March 14, 2010 8:04 PM

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