Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 413–425 | Cite as

Shame, Sexual Addiction, and Consumption in American Culture

  • Michelle E. IwenEmail author
Original Paper


Sexual addiction has risen to the forefront of many popular culture depictions of mental illness. A disorder unrecognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, sex addiction is portrayed in the 2011 film Shame with sensitivity and sophistication, following the downward spiral of protagonist Brandon, as his compulsive acquisition of sex is upset by the arrival of his sister. This film serves to complicate the relationship between sex, the traditional masculine film gaze, and neoliberal cultures of consumption. Using Mulvey’s classic reading of scopophilia, Zizek’s readings on desire in film, and Foucault’s work in Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, Volumes 1 and 2, in addition to psychological studies of pleasure and deviance, I explore the conflation of the ‘eye/I’ of the audience, filmmaker, and the subject.


Sex Addiction Gaze Shame DSM-V 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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