Transformational pain and BDSM

This is from a blog post on “Transformation and transcendence in BDSM” by Come Hither and Different Loving author Dr. Gloria Brame – do read the whole thing:

Some crave pain as a form of expiation which relieves of stress or guilt. For some, it’s a shock to the system that wakes them up and makes them feel more alive. No time to think about a fight you had last week when a needle is piercing your nipple. The intense focus and concentration needed to endure pain is both draining and liberating: some people walk away feeling as if they’ve been on a mental vacation from their worldly woes, and can revel in the afterglow for days, even weeks. I’ve known people who view pain as an endurance contest, a sober, invigorating test of courage whose pay-off is the sense of personal triumph. I’ve known many who just think spankings and whippings are fun, and feel happier, lighter, connecting with a more playful and child-like side of themselves.

For sexual submissives, pain blasts opens doors to psychological surrender. Consenting to pain means the submissive accepts that the dominant has special rights and powers over the submissive’s body. Acting out the rituals of pain are, in a sense, object lessons in dominance and submission. Pain play is also an exercise in trust: to make yourself completely vulnerable or, conversely, to accept full responsibility for the trust you’ve been given, is an ultimate form of intimacy that cements the emotional bonds between partners:

At its darkest and most intense, people may explore the edges of pain uniquely for the intense biological rushes. The brain releases intoxicating flushes of natural opiates and adrenalin to remedy pain and even casual players relish the high of those natural chemicals. But those who explore the edges learn to ride the surges with skill and grace, sometimes all the way to euphoria.

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