“Pile on many more layers and I’ll be joining you there,” Pink Floyd lead singer Roger Waters sang in ‘Shine On, You Crazy Diamond, Parts VI-IX’ which closed their 1975 album Wish You Were Here. Many of Waters’ lyrics refer to the layers of dysfunction, disconnection and alienation that separate us from wellbeing. Any porn image can be deconstructed to reveal some of these layers of damaged programming.

By understanding the layers of any porn image they’re attracted to, a porn addict can uncover their unconscious wounds.

Layers of a porn image

Our layers of dysfunction are invisible. Our dysfunctional programming resides in our unconscious where, by definition, we can’t see it. Yet it does leave traces. In The Function of the Orgasm, early psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich writes that, “the unconscious can be reached only through manifestations that are already conscious.”

One of these manifestations is porn addiction. By understanding the layers of any porn image they’re attracted to, a porn addict can uncover their unconscious wounds.

4 Layers of a porn image

Let’s look at the layers of a porn image.

1. Titillation

This is the surface layer of the image—which is often confused for the totality of the image. It’s the action in the image, which might include beauty, nudity, sex, bondage, or violence. Whatever the action is, if we enjoy looking at a porn image then we’re deriving some form of emotional reward from that action.

Behind this surface layer lies a fog of unconscious shame. This fog blinds us to the deeper, truer meaning of the image and to its holistic potential.

2. Victimizer

The next layer in a porn image is the victimizer layer. In this layer, the viewer identifies and empathises with the masculine element of the image as it expresses its desire to dominate, humiliate and use the feminine element. The masculine element is usually a man or men but may be a dominatrix figure. The feminine element is usually a woman but can be a man in a submissive situation.

Examples of such images include BDSM images where women are stripped, tied up and/or sexed without any control over the situation. The victimizer layer is also apparent in images in otherwise ‘vanilla’ porn images where men grip women’s throats or pull on their hair.

The victimizer layer isn’t always present, as in the image above showing a woman pulling down her top.

This layer relates to the victimizer/victim dynamic at the heart of patriarchy whereby we are all victimizers in some aspects of our lives and victims in others.

This desire to victimize may originate in the viewer’s current life, or it may be ancestral trauma from thousands of years ago when society operated on the basis of men capturing their enemies’ women as spoils of war.

This programming still lurks in the gutter of the male collective unconscious. (In Porn categories reflect historical taboos I highlight the similarity between images of sexual torture from the Inquisition and contemporary BDSM images.)

3. Victim

The next layer is the victim layer. Here, the viewer identifies and empathises with the feminine element of the image in some way. This reflects a feeling of victimization or woundedness in some aspect of their lives.

The victim layer is always present. All porn is a reflection of society’s historical shaming, subjugation, suppression and repression of the feminine—particularly sexuality.

This is the reciprocal part of patriarchy’s victimizer/victim dynamic. The image signals that the viewer has a feminine imbalance that needs to be recognised, accepted and released.

Like the victimizer layer, these imbalances (wounds) may relate to current-life situations or to inherited situations (ancestral trauma or more recent generational trauma).

4. Life energy

This is the base layer of the porn image. Sexual energy is the energy that creates and animates life. The longing for porn may be interpreted as a longing for sex (or sexual control). Yet, underpinning that, lies a longing for a healthy flow of life energy.

That healthy life energy can be seen in the glowing eyes of the woman in the image above. No matter how damaged and depraved an image, when you strip away all the other layers you will find the feminine energy that animates all life behind it.

In spiritual terms this is the Divine Feminine, the Cosmic Mother, the Goddess. In mechanical terms it’s the bioelectric life energy pulsing in our cells. I describe how this energy was originally damaged in The mother wound – “The dreadful has already happened”.

The Wall

After Wish You Were Here and its follow-up Animals, Roger Waters turned his focus more squarely onto sexual dysfunction. The result was 1979’s The Wall, a rock opera about sexual shame. The Wall’s protagonist, Pink, never finds his way out of the layers of alienation in which he’s trapped. His unconscious has defeated him.

The layers of a porn image are among the most intelligent tools we have for deconstructing the unconscious and bringing it to light.

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MICHAEL H HALLETT

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