Will the Film SHAME make us stop and think about Sex and Porn addiction?
The film SHAME deals with Sex/Porn addiction. It has just been released in the UK having provoked quite a stir in the USA. It seems the film has already made people think about relationships - with humans, humans as objects, and also with technology. It seems to have tapped into a particular crisis around relating, the impact of technology and so many experiences now mediated through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. But is technology reforming our relations with intimacy? The film portrays Brandon, a 35 year old successful single New Yorker with a radioactive stare, as a superficial drone with a life unravelling in front of him. The insatiable urge for sex and porn is never enough and he also degrades his ability to actually connect when potential affection is offered/needed. This leads to a pretty bleak place though maybe just a faint glimmer of redemption right at the end of the film. Whilst Brandon has an active sex life we are also invited into his world of Laptop sex - and maybe one feeds the other.
Is there such thing as sex/porn addiction? Almost certainly yes - increasingly young men tentatively raise with concern, the lens through which they see women after 1000’s of porn available images are viewed. As well as Brandon’s physical encounters he fuels his desires with an endless stream of Laptop pornography. The availability of porn has been a major change in the last 20 years along with a change in attitude. Many describe it as harmless and a bit cheeky but there may be a far darker side. I suspect we do not know the full impact yet of this juxtaposition of sex and technology.
Some have called the boom in Porn as the crack cocaine of the new decade. What lies beneath the behaviour as in any addiction, is often a complex layer of shame, lack of esteem, and perhaps a deep feeling of being essentially unlovable. When Brandon’s sister demands a hug in the film - Brandon can barely respond - after all his compulsions he is left an empty vessel simply incapable of seeing colours in his monochrome world of sexual conquest.
Counselling has a role to play here - giving a space to explore what is behind the compulsion of sex and pornography. We may be told that it is harmless fun, but only we ourselves know whether there is a more sinister edge to it. The person addicted gets disconnected from others and more importantly themselves. A first step towards reconnection is asking for help. Counselling and therapy is predicated on connection and can be an invaluable way to get life back on track.
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