“Shame”: Pornography Addiction, Weakness, Apathy and Confusion

The movie “Shame” (2011) tells the story of Brandon (played by actor Michael Fassbender), a successful publicist who, however, is addicted to pornography. He is the image of the modern man, who turns to external conquests, but has unavoidable internal failures. Paradoxically, the more he seeks pleasure, the more he feels pain. It is existential suffering. His tension is dramatized by his sexual acts, which are not portrayed in a pleasant way, but in the form of a bondage. The character is a prisoner of his own passions, hostage to his physiological needs, as addictive as a drug.

After all, addiction to pornography causes the brain to perform neurological activities comparable to those of drug users. , as evidenced by studies by neuroscientist Valerie Voon. She explains that pornography produces abnormal amounts of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of euphoria, which “leads to ignore negative stimuli, in addition to triggering feelings of ecstasy and arousal, which can create a powerful dependence.”

The same does not usually happen with traditional sex because it involves effort, in order to balance the positive effect of dopamine: singles need to conquer a partner, which takes time; the committed, keep the spouse, which requires patience. Even in other activities, pleasure comes from effort: running requires training; the food, preparation; knowledge, study.

However, the pleasure of pornography is always accessible, without requiring any considerable effort, which makes it artificial. Artificiality means that the satisfaction of pornography reverses the ultimate end of dopamine, which moves from motivation for action to dependence under the desire for more hormone production. The amount of hormones becomes so high that the subject tends to reject common pleasures, which become too small for their demands.

In fact, just as drugs change brain functioning, demanding ever higher doses for pleasure, pornography causes an anatomical change in the brain, which makes the subject less sensitive to traditional images. Hence arises the need for increasingly extreme stimuli to achieve the same pleasure. The study in English “Aggression and sexual behavior in the best-selling pornographic videos” shows that, among the most popular videos, 49% have scenes of verbal aggression and 88% of physical aggressions, including suffocation (28%), insults (49%), choking (28%) and beatings (75%).

More extreme cases involve pedophilia, whose attempt to Legalization sounds like a conspiracy theory to the unsuspecting, but scholars on the subject know that, with the growing Sexual Revolution, several groups have been working to make it “an acceptable sexual attraction”. These movements emerged as a result of the Enclave Kring, a self-styled circle of “pedophile activism”, founded by Frits Bernard, a sexologist who armed himself with supposedly scientific foundations (articles by “scientist” Magnus Hirschfeld) and wrote journals favorable to sexual relations between adults. and children.

The work “Psychopathia Sexualis”, by psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, further strengthened pedophile activism. This popularized the idea that the first voluntary sexual urges would occur between the ages of six and seven. From then on, several groups of this type of activism emerged: NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Association), Vereniging Martijn, Danish Pedophile Association, IPCE (International Pedophile and Child Emancipation), K13 (Krumme Association ), Boychat, Free Spirits, Forum Newgon, etc. Many of the pedophiles confessed that their desire was transformed through pornography. And, if I expose the existence of these groups, it is for the readers to be aware that this is not a conspiracy theory: the psychological effects of pornographic films are terrible.

In the work in question, Brandon is unable to form deep friendships and maintain romantic relationships for more than four months. This is another effect of pornography, which directs the libido towards a certain object and this investment returns to the subject, generating what psychologists call “autoeroticism”. Traditional sex, on the contrary, tends to annihilate the feeling of unique satisfaction, characteristic of childhood, while pornography turns the individual towards himself, hindering the maturation of desire.

Brandon awakens to these problems. when his sister – Sissy (Carey Mulligan) – asks to move in with him. The character relates to men who treat her as an object, so her participation in the film aims to dramatize the consequences of autoeroticism in other people’s lives. The sex addict treats his partner less like a personality and more like a drug. It is as if the other lacks a subjective existence of its own. Reduced to the body, pornography affects not only the addict, but concerns the following problem: the use of the human being as a means of self-satisfaction, when every personality must have value in itself.

Brandon he tries to make his sister recognize this dignity of his, but he lacks patience and sensitivity, because he himself treats women as objects. The means he resorts to is to end his pornographic material and start a serious relationship. However, when trying to have sex with his girlfriend, the character flirts and has sex with prostitutes. It is an episode that does not translate, in its essential dimension, sexual impotence, but emotional impotence. The addict lives autoeroticism, but his self-centeredness is not on consciousness; it’s in the ego. Unlike that – which is linked to the essence and perenniality – the ego is always focused on passing things.

With all this, the effect of pornography is not restricted to sexuality. The former reshapes the personality, removing the human being from consciousness, imprisoning him in the ego. The soul becomes insensitive to others and loses its own identity. Which is fully shown with Brandon approaching a married woman, just in order to prove to himself what he’s capable of. Being rejected, the character has a homosexual relationship with a guy in a bar, although he never had homosexual tendencies. But the man wanted her, boosting his ego, reviving his dopamine. This being the most extreme consequence of pornography addiction: unconsciousness and libido dominandi.

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