Lars Von Trier's film, Nymphomaniac, explores the themes and behaviours involved with Sex Addiction or nymphomania, through the depiction of the many scenarios and instances that are present for a female sex addict. The central character, Joe, was able to discover the hidden depths of her sexuality to the physical extent of her being and the resulting consequences. The no taboos subjects were expressed through:
- Domination and submission
- Pain exchange sex
- Multiple sex partners
- Exploration of Paedophilia related phantasy
- Seductive Role Sex
- Masturbation and Phantasy
Additionally the issues dealing with arousal and pushing the envelope to experience the extreme forms of addicted sexual behaviour were present throughout the film. Despite the protestation of Joe and the literal, historical references to mythological characters depicting the syndrome of nymphomania, the film was able to show how sexual addiction can reduce anyone to a shutdown and emotionless existence ; one where only sex and the need for gratification matters, no matter the cost.
Furthermore, despite the consequences of her actions Joe continued pushing her own limits which mimics the insanity of the sexual addicts behaviour of continuing to do the same behaviour in spite of the same consequences, even while knowing the outcome to be the same or worse. Also, putting herself in vulnerable situation to be exploited or for boundaries to be violated is a theme that exists with female sex addicts. The film is beneficial in demonstrating how extreme the forms of behaviour can be in any form of process addiction and the result leads the individual into a deeply lonely, isolated existence.
The nostalgia trip that Joe takes the viewer on is merely a continuation of her sexual development from Vol. 1. From a sexual addiction perspective the film is a display of how wired the brain can be; in spite of any intervention or perceived help, the situation can be manipulated or set up for a coercion to take place. This was typified in the relationship between the storyteller Joe and the Listener Seligman.
We would like to suggest that one way to watch the film is to go with a friend, debrief after, and allow some process time if any of the themes resonate with you. If you find that you are struggling with any issues that may have surfaced since watching the film and would like to chat with someone, do give us a call.