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Sabbadini, A. Psychol, C. (2016). Erotomania According to Lars von Trier. Psychoanal. Psychol., 33(2):364-370.

(2016). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 33(2):364-370

Film Reviews

Erotomania According to Lars von Trier

Andrea Sabbadini and C. Psychol

The recent 4-hr-long film Nymphomaniac (2013), written and directed by the controversial Danish director Lars von Trier, provides here an opportunity for psychoanalytically informed reflections on some of the issues presented by the film and by its main 2 characters. Joe is a middle-aged woman who, in the course of recovering from an aggressive attack which had left her badly injured, recounts in flashback narrative her lifelong journey through compulsory, and mostly unsatisfactory, sexual experiences in their multiple variations on the perverse spectrum. Seligman is the older man who, having rescued her and invited her to his home, takes on a paternal and pseudotherapeutic role by listening sympathetically to her stories. He genuinely attempts to comprehend and justify them, but being himself addicted to books while having an only limited range of life experiences, he can only relate them to all sort of cultural phenomena—from such fields as numerology, history of religion, literary criticism, visual art, and musicology. The psychological mechanism of repetition compulsion as a major component of addictive behaviors is presented here as central to the understanding of Joe's painful vicissitudes. Her compulsive search for the ultimate sensual gratification, but without emotional involvement or interpersonal commitment on her part, and indeed with no concern for the suffering caused to those she sexually abuses, is seen here as a major contribution to Joe's profound sense of loneliness.

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