Cybersex, Porn Stars and the Adult Entertainment Industry

During my three year training therapy in Zurich, Switzerland (from 1984-87), my Professor during one session was in a somewhat distraught mood, at least that's how I read it. I had read it from his unusual facial expressions that hour. The conversation turned to the more difficult and disgusting aspects that a therapist might be faced with in therapy. Therapy during that session was not being described to me as some dream-bed of roses. Below, is one such dream sent to the International Institute for Dream Research. The dream was sent by a woman who was working in the "adult entertainment industry".

One can understand Freud's obsession with sexuality and sexual dreams especially the darker and psychopathological (read psychotic) one's. The Victorian's were a highly repressed society as one dream interpretation Civilizations Die of Suicide points out. Jung understood through his "word association" experiments that sexuality was just one of the archetypal language themed complexes found in the "unconscious", and that there were many more. One of the darker archetypal themes found in dreams is the so-called "language" of pornography. In my private practice I once had a client, who liked to go to prostitutes despite the fact he that had been married for quite some time. I told him during one therapy session that he was behaviourally treating his wife vulgarly, a "c...". The offensive word was being therapeutically used to emphasize the non-verbal language of the husband's offensive behaviour. Another reason, was that his wife had recurring mortifying dreams, that emphasized these emotionally offensive, vulgar and "disgusting" images. The behaviour of her husband was emotionally "harming" his wife, causing psychological injury.

Here is the dream sent to the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR).

Dreamer: Fiona 26, American sex worker

I was staying in a medieval hotel. I was getting ready to go out for the night, putting on evening clothes and fixing my hair. I noticed that my hair was looking really thin, and I put my hand up to my head and pulled out a bug the size of my palm. I did this two more times, each time pulling out different looking bugs, equally big and disgusting. Then I went back to fixing my hair, and noticed that there was an oval hole in my scalp, where the first bug had eaten through to my skull. This was sort of yellow, pus-filled, and horrifying.

Mr. Hagen's Reply: Gothic Romance Industry -or- Pornography as Hate Speech

"There is but one step from the grotesque to the horrible." Sherlock Holmes

I believe an American designer once commented, "Beauty has always paid more than any other commodity." Beauty and art images have been used to "advertise" everything from cars to tampons. Of course when discussing images of beauty, we must also include its opposite: ugliness. Our desire to be perceived as beautiful is so intense that we experience ugliness with a fear and hatred that has been labeled cacophobia. We make decisions based upon people's appearances, a prejudice of "lookism". For a popular children's version of this theme see Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". The psychological conflict of beauty versus ugliness is central to the development of children's aesthetic self-image and self esteem, that is, narcissism. For many American women and Western society as a whole, fashion and beauty have become the narcissistic foundation for their identities and their lifestyles.

The American sociologist Thorstein Veblen "The Theory of the Leisure Class" introduced the concept of conspicuous consumption, meaning an economy devoted to superficial appearances and attention seeking behaviour. After assuming these values, we prefer to consume images rather than experience sensual reality. Narcissistic consumers are then consumed by these images themselves.

Research done in the United States on the effects of exposure to pornography on men, shows a significant increase in sexual content in their dreams. Sex as a hormone, as a drug, has always been a tempting and seductive chemical lure for men's fantasies and their dreams. The "sex in the media effects" of these porn images on the women working in the industry is evident from the dream above. The pornography film industry, takes its model from the Hollywood dream factory and is a so-called art studio based on the "porn star". The "golden age of porn" and "porn stars" began in the 1970's with Linda Loveless in "Deep Throat".

Playboy, The Happy Hooker and the Euro-Porn Industry in the Global Village

The soft Euro-porn franchise Emmanuelle (see trailer for Emmanuelle 4) attests to the consumer's attraction to pornographic fantasies and dreams. The film Hard Core (see film trailer) features a fathers (George C. Scott) search for his daughter, who as it turns out has entered the world of pornography and is apparently associated to a man who deals in snuff films. The movie 8 MM (see movie trailer) features Nicholas Cage as a detective whose investigation reveals the disturbing world of the snuff movie.

Pornography frequently features images of women created by men, promoted by men, for the consumption by men. Evidently your dream was sent from a website that had won a "Playboy" site of the month award. In your dream, your head has become purulent, discharging the pus that results from the grotesque body images that may have gotten into your head from your work in the "adult entertainment industry".

The Culture Wars -or- American Schizmogenesis of the Global Village

In the IIDR dream interpretation "Shakespearean Dreams of Young Love", I discussed Gregory Bateson's Ecology of Mind and his concept of "schizomogesis". Following Bateson, I have called not for an ecology of mind and media as such, but an ecology of dreams where the harmful media effects on mind and body are studied, and political policies are instituted to counter this dark destructive process. The problem and psychological pattern is readily found in our dreams. Part of this pattern involves the "divorce culture" we live in. The IIDR dream interpretation like The Ex-Files underscores the pattern. This socially destructive pattern, force and movement, is one that I will also make clearly visible in future "Field Notes of a Dream Researcher". Laura Kripnis in her article "Pornography", suggests political reasons for the "academy" has not undertaken the academic study of pornography. Kripnis believes that pornography is at the very bottom of the lowest rungs of the cultural and political hierarchy. Although not naming it as such, Kripnis points to a Jungian academic "frisson" in the (medical) humanities and their academy (of politically correct) language. The social sciences are the ones to deal with deviance, abnormality and "low culture". Themes of criminality, violence, and sex are their "object" of social scientific study. Forensic psychology given a social voice by crime films and TV shows such as the CSI franchise. The prurient fascination  in such stories of "differential associations" also finds a dark aesthetic vision and voice in our film noir like dreams.

What I have learned studying dreams over the last nearly 35 years is that the "cultural collective unconscious media hub" of dreaming is always an unbroken whole archetypal literary process. In the modern era, since Bismarck's time in the 19th century the "culture wars" have been raging between a variety of cultural groups. The dream interpretation "Culture Warsgives voice (in part) to the ongoing social problem. Even if the culture wars and the politics of the academy has on the surface fractured this unbroken wholeness into "high" and "low" culture, most everyone on this planet will be dreaming about the story of civilization and its discontents tonight. The President of the United States, leaders of all the nearly 200 countries on the planet, the people working, the people traveling, the criminals in prison, and the prostitutes working the streets as we speak, all those dreamers of history will be dreaming.

Each of us learns via everyday reality (and nightly dreaming) and to institute either sociological differential association strategies thereby leading to criminal careers, or "differential dis-sociation patterns", which lead away from dark crime and nightmare hubs, towards conformity and compliance to the prevailing acceptable community norms, values and dreams of society. The cultural-biological process works both ways and is readily visible in sociological dreams. I have witnessed the dreaming process of deviance in an adolescent who choose the path of a criminal. You can see the dreaming process in all its vicissitudes for yourself, these are all the dreams of dreamers (of Presidents, leaders, criminals, prostitutes, addicts, rape victims...) that are posted at the IIDR website.

McLuhan's Global Village-or-Schizoerotic Dream of the Emperor's New Clothes

Dreaming on the planet is always an unbroken artistic whole of cultural and biological processes that connects everyone to everyone else on our planet. Even if we dis-sociate ourselves from the dark dreams, we all have a poetic maximum of "six degrees of separation" to the "criminal" and the "prostitute". The film about the Charles Manson killings, is called Six Degrees of Helter Skelter. You can't aesthetically repress "low culture" or popular culture, it will only lead to the cultural return of the repressed in a more disguised dramatic personae form.

The dark dissociated aesthetic side of culture exists. Having researched, explored and traveled in this "hyperreal" dark side of dreams using the academic literary and Hollywood dream factory vehicle of film noir, it is imperative that it be made transparent. This dark decadent schizoerotic side of the nightly "dreambed" has a noir genealogy that has been there as long as the existence of civilization. Sophocles Oedipus Rex told us that the city of Thebes suffered because of the unsolved "crime" of patricide. Anyone reading Freud's Interpretation of Dreams will see the oneiric structures of high and low culture in the dreams of those living at the beginning of the 20th century. It becomes readily visible once you understand the cultural trains of thought that move and archetypally circulate in Freud's Interpretation of Dreams and its underlying global "marketplace of thought".

Low culture in its modern existence, the industrial apparatus and "mechanisms" of trauma and injury by which it becomes generationally (re-) produced, almost becomes completely visible and audible for those living in the post-modern dream and nightmare of the "Global Village". Just look at the internet websites, I never have had to, because I can see many of them in the dreams sent to the IIDR. Let's "look" at some of the dreams of men and women whose schizoerotic dreams are informed by "low culture".

Who are we kidding!? In these collective pipe dreams, the Emperor has no clothes on, any child can see that! We, stick our head's collectively in the sand and think if we don't see it, "it" in the dialogical sense of Martin Buber doesn't exist in our sanitized conversation. Until the "low life" culture scandal rears its ugly head again as we saw recently in the news about pedophilia at Penn State, does the dark frisson topic (only for the moment) becomes water cooler, and text message talk! Until the next time...and then the next....

Some literature that might provide further insight:

  • Christopher Lasch, "The Culture of Narcissism"
  • Paul Schilder, "The Image and the Appearance of the Human Body"
  • Daniel Boorstin, "The Image, or What Happened to the American Dream?"
  • Erving Goffman, "Gender Advertisements"
  • Roland Barthes, "The Fashion System"
  • Stuart Ewen, "All-Consuming Images"
  • Naomi Wolf, "The Beauty Myth"
  • Alexander Lowen, "Narcissism: Denial of the True Self"
  • Linda Williams, "Hard Core"
  • Susan Griffin, "Pornography and Silence"

Hope these thoughts are of help,
Mark H.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.