"Porn" by Robert J.              Stoller

Porn Myths for the Twentieth Century Robert J. Stoller

Publication date:
28 Jul 1993
Yale University Press
240 pages:


Bill, Merlin, Happy, and Kay are among the porn-film performers and producers who tell their stories to Dr. Robert J. Stoller in this pschyodynamic ethnography of adult heterosexual pornography. Their engrossing accounts reveal in rich detail not only the inner workings of “the Industry” and the fantasies and motivations of its participants but also the relation between this most denigrated of occupations and “normal” human erotic behavior and attitudes.


Consistently nonjudgmental about the material he presents, Dr. Stoller nevertheless draws provocative conclusions about porn, its practitioners, and its effects on society. Everyone at work on a porn production, he says, uses it as a vehicle for unloading his or her rage against something—mores, institutions, laws, parents, females, or males. According to Dr. Stoller, pornography does not exist only to degrade women, there is no reliable evidence that it increases the frequency of rape, and (with the exception of child porn) it does little harm. Pornography, says Dr. Stoller, seems more the result of our changing society than a cause of change; it reflects, more than influences, our values and mores.

"Stoller combines the perspective of the psychoanalyst with that of an anthropological explorer. This work is an outstanding contribution to the psychoanalytic exploration of the erotic and to the exploration of mass culture from the psychoanalytic perspective."?Otto F. Kernberg, M.D., New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Westchester Division

"With the verve and moral compassion we have come to expect from his studies on the nature of erotic excitement, Stoller now brings enlightenment to a subject usually trivialized by legalistic jargon and empty moralizing. Porn is an extraordinary document. The transcripts of Stoller's interviews provide direct access to the thoughts, feelings and fantasies of those who are hired to perform the erotic fantasies of the typical consumers of porn?adult heterosexual males. As these producers, directors, actresses and actors testify from their 'playpen of the damned,' we learn that they are seeking personal salvation and self-validation through the self-destructive potentials inherent in porn. We become witnesses to the vengeful hatred and terror generating the scripts they create and thereby gain insight into the dynamics of erotic excitement in the consumers of porn. Porn will become a standard and starting place for serious investigations of porn, other variants of pornography and other varieties of erotic experience."?Louise J. Kaplan, Ph.D., author of Female Perversions

"By interviewing real people in the porn industry?interviews that summon up associations both to Freud and to Dante?Stoller illuminates the motivations that provide meaning to sexual experience. This creative and helpful book critically assesses the superficial perspectives underlying commonly held attitudes about human sexuality in our culture."?Richard C. Friedman, M.D., author of Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Perspective

"For a million-dollar entertainment industry, film porn has elicited precious few books telling its inside story?and those mostly by backbiting porn stars. . . . Here's a rarity, then, a revealing survey of the biz from the horses' mouths, neatly put together by UCLA psychiatrist Stoller. . . . Expertly probed by Stoller, the interviewees cover the nuts and bolts of porn . . . but it's clearly the subjective side, what makes porn professionals tick, that most interests Stoller. . . . Graphic, candid, and bleak, but energized by the nervous vitality of those who work on the wild side, and deeply informative?an honorable capstone to Stoller's career."?Kirkus Reviews

"Porn is a useful document that raises the level of the sophistication with which we understand the production of mass culture."?Journal of Communication

"Combining an insatiable curiosity with a psychoanalyst's eye for the hidden dimensions of reality, [Stoller] never fails to question our assumptions and provoke heated debate."?Jack Morin, Journal of Sex Education and Therapy

"An extraordinary, compassionate work, free of bias and empty moralizing."?Jerome B. Katz, M.D., Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

"Stoller's effort is to be richly commended. We are indebted to him for the areas of study he has opened for further investigation."?Jeremy P. Nahum, M.D., Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy

"Offer[s] a chance to examine, quietly and calmly, the complex issues involved. . . . [Stoller's] open, laid-back approach seems the wisest. Stoller's book succeeds in humanising porn, and as such provides a valuable . . . insight."?Brendan King, New London Reviews