Kink, fetish, BDSM… what is all that stuff really about, anyway?

Sure it has to do with the fun of role-playing, but much of the time it’s really about something way deeper than that: it’s about the power of healing, something that is so often so hard to get in touch with, especially where we need it most.

Role-playing, if you take it seriously enough, becomes REAL. Your mind forgets that you have constructed a situation, and “goes on autopilot,” and you just go with things as they are. Kink/BDSM (bondage / discipline / dominance / submission / sadism / masochism) allows us to do this where we are often most vulnerable: in the primal/sexual arena of life.

Some of our most extreme feelings happen in the realm of sex and intimacy. Feelings of unbridled passion, beautiful sensations, sensual flights to distant spiritual lands… and then, unfortunately, there is the flip side when it stops or goes badly. Feelings of inadequacy, of worthlessness, of disappointment and shame. These intense feelings rip control from our grasp, knocking us around and often leaving a traumatic feeling of having been violated.

A friend of mine who is studying child psychology notes that a significant amount people in the fetish scene went through certain traumas as children–experiences that left them feeling abandoned, violated, or markedly disoriented. This is not the case for everybody, but it does illustrate how powerful BDSM is for people who have intimate questions about the nature of their very existence–questions that cannot be answered with a 5-minute conversation, or even a 5-hour one.

As “dangerous” as BDSM sometimes sounds, it is actually so powerful and therapeutic because it must involve safety and trust, otherwise it won’t work! But you see, once you do assume complete trust and attention to safety, you become free to do and experience things you could not normally–such as putting yourself in pain. Thing is that, where there is pain in a safe context, no matter how sharp it is in a moment, there will soon be healing–and healing feels so good and soothing.

The actual physical aspect of BDSM is only one aspect of the experience, and often not the principal one. It is the psychology of possibility that really drives things… the feeling that, for example, when you have someone tied up, you could do anything to them–or, if you’re the one tied up, that the other person could do anything to you. It is healing precisely because it is extreme–or rather, because the possibilities are extreme.

This goes just as much for the dominant, power-wielding person as it does for the submissive. A person taking on the dominant role may feel inadequate at times, fear being disrespected, or simply want to be admired. By exercising power over the submissive, the dominant person is able to transcend fears of not being adequate or not being respected. And thus as a matter of course, proper behavior in the dominant role involves being intimately in touch with the person you are dominating, always listening and making sure they are enjoying the experience too. Through this kind of interaction, you build confidence in your abilities and learn to trust yourself, as other people learn to trust you, and that quickly spreads to other areas of life.

The key throughout all this is that, because these activities are safe and consensual to start with, you get to own your own experience. So, for example, if you were sexually assaulted and/or have a fear of being forced, you can actually use “rape play” as a way to face that experience in an atmosphere of safety and trust. It’s like a fantasy, except it is real–but you can hit the stop button anytime. And facing down and owning a fear, especially an intimate one that isn’t easy to talk about, is one of the most healing things you can do for your soul.

EDIT: In case it is unclear, I am not claiming that everyone who engages in BDSM has a big problem they need to solve. It can indeed just be “good fun,” too.

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15 Responses to Kink, fetish, BDSM… what is all that stuff really about, anyway?

  1. Pingback: Desire for control: the roots of fascination with sex and violence « Positive Juice

  2. Shamona says:

    Wow. Wish I could of read this when I was going thru my control issues. Good info.

    • I’ve been going through a few control issues of my own lately. It’s always good to self-investigate. And by the way, you’re never too old or too mature to do this kind of stuff, no matter what they tell you… :-)

  3. Pingback: Using Kinks to harness the power of healing » Sensualplace

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  5. Pingback: An idea is never born unaccompanied by a goal « Positive Juice

  6. Pingback: When love makes the pain feels good « Positive Juice

  7. Polyharp says:

    i find that my kinky experiences (which are relatively recent in my life) open me in such a way that i am truly myself. in this situation of being so completely who i am, the trust and love my partner shows for me reaches a place that noone else has ever managed to reach and i feel like finally i can begin to accept, love and cherish myself in all my facets. i can indeed truly ‘own’ who i am and what i want.
    thanks for this post

  8. Pingback: Desire for control: the roots of fascination with sex and violence « Positive Juice

  9. Pingback: Kink, fetish, BDSM… what is all that stuff really about, anyway? (via Positive Juice) « raunchradicals

  10. Pingback: The real meaning of “safer sex” « Positive Juice

  11. Pingback: When love makes the pain feels good « Positive Juice

  12. Rosa says:

    While I realize you are not claiming everyone has a big problem that needs to be solved the implication does indeed exist with this statement, “A friend of mine who is studying child psychology notes that a significant amount people in the fetish scene went through certain traumas as children–experiences that left them feeling abandoned, violated, or markedly disoriented.”

    Unless it can be documented scientifically as statistically significantly higher compared to the general population and/or any other “group,, I think it’s a stereotype and a harmful one. Because it does nothing to dispel the notion that BDSM practitioners are sexual freaks (even if sex is not involved), because of a history childhood trauma (read: victims of sexual abuse. physical abuse and neglect).

    There are a few other things I find somewhat problematic.
    Many forms of BDSM are clearly NOT safe, And with that it can be easily argued I think, they are not exactly sane either. Flogging someone can be highly unsafe if the kidneys and spine are hit. Whipping is unsafe but can be done in a safer manner. Same with wax play, bondage of any sort, rope suspension, and choking (does this even sound safe?). But, we (hopefully) consent to any activity knowing the full implications of the risk we take, and who we take those risks with.

    Yes you can hit the stop button at any time. Generally we think of this as when we reach a point of intensity of pain that we cannot tolerate. However, the stop button is not always within easy reach for the person who unknowingly hits a wall and is suddenly thrown into experiencing a deep emotional trigger. It’s not safe and sane to suggest that the victim of rape trauma act out a rape scene to heal. BDSM It is not, nor should it ever be approached as some kind of free therapy work in lieu of trained counselors and/or supervised medication for rape trauma, ptsd, bipolar disorders, etc.

    Many of these activities are stress relievers and escapist strategies from our ridiculously hectic and ever complicated lives. There is also an element of self medicating. Make no mistake, endorphins and adrenaline released during play can be be a powerful drug induced high much like a runners high. Even Dominants who are giving pain achieve such focus as to be in meditative type states that can alter brain waves and/or chemicals. And they are feel good chemicals,

    With all that said, facing down fears tends to be more healthy than not.. And yes many long time practitioners hold in no uncertain terms that BDSM should not ever be used as “therapy”, But it is therapy if we are learning to trust ourselves, to be vulnerable where appropriate, to be more accepting of ourselves and others choices, to gain confidence in ourselves, become more sex and body positive, learn new skills, meet new people, and to take full responsibility for our decisions and experiences.

    There is a lot of happy, happy, joy, joy warm and fuzzy aspects of BDSM, no doubt about it. It’s fun. It’s laughter with people who are generally far less judgmental about a whole lot of things, including sexual habits and fantasies. BDSM is the new black. It’s cool, it’s inclusive. But no one want to really address the hard stuff. The stuff where there isn’t warm fuzzies and giggly cuddle piles for aftercare. There is a lot of dark to BDSM as well……

    • What you say is true about so much out there. Nothing exists in the good and light without some complimentary dimension of darkness. And with such matters as sensitive as these, the dark side can indeed be very dark.

      This article was written 3 years ago, before BDSM got the level of exposure it is getting today, when people outside of the scenes were beginng to ask questions. Perhaps now it’s time to go a bit more in depth about all the different possibilities inherent in such interactions, as you say.

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