Controversy has followed Fifty Shades Of Grey beginning with the first publication of the book, and now with the release of the motion picture. Critics and the general public continue to ask the same question: why does a mediocre story with cliche plot points continue to be popular among an ever growing, mostly female fan base?
The answer to this question may be more complicated than one would expect.
The bad boy stereotype has existed for decades in countless popular novels, songs, and movies. This man is often controlling, relentless in his pursuit of a woman, and even abusive by today's modern standards. Christian Grey of the Fifty Shades of Grey fame is no exception. What is it about these men that make them sex symbols for the countless fans out there?
More interestingly, what makes these characters tick? Instead of rushing to declare that these men are criminals or monsters, it may be worthwhile to look deeper at how their characters are emotionally deprived and what unconscious urges drive them to behave the way they do.
By looking specifically at the two main characters of Fifty Shades Of Grey, we discover two individuals with low levels of self esteem and no real awareness of how unhappy they are.
Instead of dealing with their sense of emotional emptiness in healthy ways, the two seek out unhealthy behaviors in order to divert their misery and experience a temporary feeling of ecstasy, in other words, a "high".
Ana and Christian are naturally drawn to each other from the first moment they meet, in the same way that so many emotionally damaged people are drawn to each other in real life. They quickly begin an unconventional relationship involving BDSM and other extreme sex practices.
Christian makes it clear from the beginning of the relationship that he enjoys being in control of his life, and that urge has extended all the way into his sex practices. The BDSM lifestyle may be Christian's mechanism for remaining emotionally detached, in a position of control, and removed from intimacy all the way into the bedroom.
While there are many individuals who practice a BDSM lifestyle as part of a healthy sex life, Christian's case points to something more disturbing. Here it's important to look at the man's upbringing in a wealthy family being raised by a drug addicted mother in an abusive environment.
Being exposed to this type of unstable, traumatizing environment will undeniably leave its mark on an impressionable child. Coupled with a genetic predisposition to addiction, that child will very likely grow up to repeat the patterns of abuse and addiction they were exposed to early on.
In a manner similar to a drug and alcohol addiction, a sex addict will look to an outside source to fill an emotional void within themselves. When Christian meets Ana, a kindred spirit with similar traits of low self worth, it is only natural that the two should begin using each other to fulfill that insatiable need.
As their relationship continues, their unhealthy behavior escalates until one or both of them is placed in real danger. Just like any addiction, a sex addict will look for more extreme and frequent ways of getting "high" to fulfill a deep, unresolved longing.
Christian and Ana's story ends on a much happier note than most real life relationships with a sex addict. The characters are able to begin addressing their deep seated issues and begin a path toward living a healthier lifestyle.
For real life addicts, reaching a happy ending is not that easy. In order to begin addressing their addiction, an individual must first make the conscious decision that they want to change. They then need to commit to that decision and stick with a treatment plan that addresses their unique issues.
Sex addiction is a real and very serious condition that destroys lives. It must not be treated like the titillating plotline of a Hollywood movie or trashy novel read under the covers at night.