In-depth research suggests BDSM practitioners can experience altered states of consciousness that can be therapeutic.
- BDSM is an acronym encompassing a variety of sexual practices that include: bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism. The practice of BDSM usually consists of partners taking on specific roles in which one partner is dominant and the other is submissive.
- BDSM practitioners (individuals who frequently engage in BDSM play) can experience various mental health benefits from engaging in their scenes.
- According to the research, subspace is often characterized by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the release of epinephrine and endorphins, and a subsequent period of non-verbal, deep relaxation.
The psychology of BDSM<p><a href="https://www.ohsu.edu/womens-health/benefits-healthy-sex-life" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Many experts</a> have weighed in on the significant mental and physical health benefits of sex:</p><ul><li>Lower blood pressure</li><li>Stronger immune system</li><li>Better heart health </li><li>Improved self-esteem</li><li>Decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety </li><li>Better sleep routines </li></ul><p>However, there is an increasing interest in studies that explore the specific mental and physical health benefits of BDSM practices. BDSM practitioners (individuals who frequently engage in BDSM play) can experience various mental health benefits from engaging in their scenes. For example, <a href="https://bigthink.com/sex-relationships/bdsm-work-ethic" target="_self">one study</a> suggests that being dominant in the bedroom can boost your work ethic. <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/how-bdsm-might-benefit-your-health-and-your-relationship-4846462#:~:text=Improves%20Mental%20Health&text=The%20participants%20in%20the%20BDSM,less%20sensitive%20to%20others'%20perceptions." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Other research</a> in this area has suggested engaging in BDSM activities can boost your mental well-being and increase awareness of your attachment style in partnerships, which can ultimately lead to healthier relationships. Additionally, <a href="https://bigthink.com/sex-relationships/bdsm-psychology-trauma" target="_self">unhealthy stereotypes and misconceptions</a> about BDSM have also been addressed by experts. </p><p>A natural starting point for more research surrounding the mental health impact of BDSM practices is to explore what happens in a person's mind and body when they experience intense sexual activity. While physical reactions (such as arousal and climax) are quite typical, there is something unique that happens to individuals who participate in intense BDSM scenes. </p><p><strong>What is "subspace" in BDSM play? </strong></p><p><a href="https://sofiagray.com/blog/an-intro-to-bdsm-subspace-what-every-submissive-should-know/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Subspace</a> is defined as a state of transcendence reached by submissives through intense physical or psychological experiences with their partner. This can happen through sensory triggers (the use of paddles, blindfolds, restraints) or through emotional triggers (certain words or phrases, meaningful expressions).</p><p>This space, while experienced differently for many, can be described as a nearly-hypnotic feeling that takes over when the submissive partner is highly engaged in their role. </p><p><strong>What is "domspace" in BDSM play? </strong></p><p><a href="https://sofiagray.com/blog/an-intro-to-domspace-what-every-dominant-should-know/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Domspace</a> is defined as an altered, elevated state of mind that Dominants (during BDSM scenes) experience through intense physical or psychological experiences with their submissive partner. This can happen through sensory triggers (using paddles or restraints on your partner) or through emotional triggers (expressing certain words or phrases to your partner, meaningful expressions, the notion that your submissive trusts you enough to be vulnerable with you). </p><p>While subspace can be described as a "hazy" or "blurry" trance-like state, domspace is often described (by individuals who experience it) as an intense, euphoric, and focused state of mind.</p>
Are there therapeutic benefits to submission?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY1MDkyNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDc3OTgxOH0.ku49neryuoVZiLTFY2vmIzE2H7ufWjiOm6C2TX8CmK0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C385%2C0%2C386&height=700" id="32e18" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f3a51bbf36ed5d823af33eb15fc38f4f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="submissive male submissive man male sub BDSM therapy" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Experts weigh in: there may be therapeutic and relational benefits to being a submissive person in BDSM scenes.
Photo by LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS on Adobe Stock<p>According to the author of the study, Dulcinea Pitagora: "Because the BDSM community has been historically vilified due to stereotypes reinforced by negative media exposure and inadequate education, relatively little is known about the phenomenon of subspace outside of the BDSM community."</p><p><strong>There is a proven connection between BDSM interactions and altered states of consciousness. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308575318_Consensual_BDSM_Facilitates_Role-Specific_Altered_States_of_Consciousness_A_Preliminary_Study" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">According to a 2016 study</a>, there is a direct link between BDSM interactions and ASCs (altered states of consciousness) - the significant one, in this case, being that engaging in a submissive role during BDSM play can lead to transient hypofrontality. </p><p><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-edge-peak-performance-psychology/201703/the-transient-hypofrontality-edge#:~:text=Transient%20hypofrontality%2C%20then%2C%20means%20that,with%20the%20term%20transient%20hypofrontality." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Transient hypofrontality</a>, a term coined by <a href="https://www.arnedietrich.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dr. Arne Dietrich</a>, is when the focused, thought-processing part of the brain is "shut off" by external triggers. An example of this is the difference between engaging in a competitive sport and running in a beautiful park. During a competitive sport, your brain will need to make a variety of complex decisions. While you're running a calmer path in a beautiful park, however, your mind can "let go" of that prefrontal engagement and you can experience an alternate (relaxed) state of consciousness. For a submissive, during BDSM scenes, this can result in reduced self-reported stress and increased sexual arousal.</p><p>Transient hypofrontality has also been used to describe severe "end-stage" addictions. This ability to <a href="https://www.practicalrecovery.com/prblog/biggest-lies-recovery-pt-vi-addiction-disease/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">"shut off" the thought-processing</a> function in your brain can actually cause "involuntary" cravings for this feeling. This can be why many submissive practitioners become reliant on their BDSM activities. </p><p>The study explains, <em>"In order to examine an alignment of transient hypofrontality with </em><em>subspace, the authors collected additional self-reported data describing experiences of </em><em>subspace; a comparison of these datasets confirmed that the characteristics of transient </em><em>hypofrontality were consistent with those of subspace."</em></p><p><strong>Experiencing subspace during BDSM play can activate the sympathetic nervous system. </strong></p><p><a href="https://journalofpositivesexuality.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/No-Pain-No-Gain-Therapeutic-and-Relational-Benefits-of-Subspace-in-BDSM-Pitagora.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to the research</a>, subspace is often characterized by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the release of epinephrine and endorphins, and a subsequent period of non-verbal, deep relaxation. This chain reaction can often lead the submissive in the scene to experience a temporary state of depersonalization and derealization (which are generally experienced as positive and pleasant in this context). </p><p><strong>The key to experiencing this trance-like state is having a partner you trust, research suggests.</strong></p><p>This state is highly sought after by individuals who identify as submissives in the BDSM context - and the key to achieving this state of being is having a dominant partner you can trust. This type of trust and reciprocal consent can provide an entry to subspace. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Because the participant who identifies as the sadist, dominant [or top] in a given scene is generally charged with monitoring and protecting their partner, the [submissive] bottom in the scene might be better situated for achieving an altered state of consciousness and transcendence." </em>-<a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11133-010-9158-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Rethinking Kink</a>, 2010</p><p><strong>BDSM could be used as a way to heal from trauma and benefit your relationships, experts suggest. </strong></p><p>While there is no research to date that has sought to capture the specific experiences of subspace and how they relate to relationships and healing, many experts believe BDSM can in fact provide therapeutic and relational benefits to those who engage in the practices. </p><p><em>"</em>Given the associations between ASCs and subspace described above, the authors' findings on ASCs can be extended to the analogous experience of subspace. The study suggested that symbolic action can have a profound effect on psychological processes and connected trance (a type of ASC) with the healing properties of the trance state."</p>
Scrap getting fitter or eating better and focus more on the people in your life.
Scientists ripped up kids' drawings. This is what they learned about relationships.
- Forgiveness as a cultural act linked to religion and philosophy dates back centuries, but studies focused on the science of apologies, morality, and relationships are fairly new. As Amrisha Vaish explains, causing harm, showing remorse, and feeling concern for others are things children pay attention to, even in their first year of life.
- In a series of experiments, adults ripped children's artworks and either showed remorse or showed neutrality. They found that remorse really mattered. "Here we see what [the kids] really care about is that the transgressor shows their commitment to them, to the relationship," Vaish says. "And they will seek that person out over even an in-group member."
- As a highly social species, cooperation is vital to humans. Learning what factors make or break those social bonds can help communities, teams, and partners work together to meet challenges and survive.
Monogamy is often considered a key component of traditional marriages, but it's only half the story.
- Depending on who you ask, monogamy is either essential to a successful marriage or it is unrealistic and sets couples up for failure.
- In this video, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, psychologist Chris Ryan, former Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman, and psychotherapist Esther Perel discuss the science and culture of monogamy, the role it plays in making or breaking relationships, and whether or not humans evolved to have one partner at a time.
- "The bottom line is, for millions of years, there were some reproductive payoffs not only to forming a pair bond but also to adultery," says Fisher, "leaving each one of us with a tremendous drive to fall in love and pair up, but also some susceptibility to cheating on the side."
Is your masturbation routine benefitting your sex life? Here's how to tell...
- As many as 40% of women experience difficulty reaching orgasm during heterosexual partnered sex. A 2019 study explores the potential links between female masturbation habits and partnered sex satisfaction.
- The frequency in which women masturbated did not correlate to their orgasm experiences with their partner. However, researchers did note that the greater the overlap between masturbation activities and partnered sex, the more women were to overcome orgasm difficulties.
- In general, women who were more satisfied with their relationship had lower orgasmic difficulty.
Over 2,000 women were polled to determine how masturbation impacting their partnered sex life.
Credit: Drobot Dean on Adobe Stock<p>Over 2,000 women living within the United States and Hungary completed an online survey about activities and reasons for orgasmic difficulty during masturbation, as well as activities and reasons for orgasmic difficulties during partnered sex.</p><p>The average number of times these women masturbated was once every two weeks, and the average number of times per week they reported having sex with their partner was twice. The majority of women reported using clitoral stimulation during masturbation while significantly fewer women (about half) reported using clitoral stimulation during partnered sex. </p><p>Nearly all women who reported using clitoral stimulation during masturbation also included it during partnered sex. </p><p><strong>Favorite positions translated from partnered sex to masturbation for the majority of women.<br><br></strong>53 percent of women who used a particular body position (and 48 percent who engaged in anal stimulation during masturbation) also regularly used the respective activities during partnered sex. Additionally, 38 percent of women who engaged in sexual fantasy (and 36 percent of women who used sex toys such as vibrators) during masturbation included such activities when having sex with their partner.</p><p><strong>Masturbation frequency was not related to orgasm experiences with partners.<br><br></strong>The frequency in which women masturbated did not correlate to their orgasm experiences with their partner. However, researchers did note that the greater the overlap between masturbation activities and partnered sex, the more likely women were to overcome orgasm difficulties. Additionally, women with lower alignment between their masturbatory activities and partnered sex activities were more likely to report preferring masturbation to sex with their partner.</p><p>"In and of itself, women who masturbate experience no particular advantage or disadvantage insofar as reaching orgasm during partnered sex. However, women who show greater similarity between the behaviors/techniques they use for stimulation during masturbation and the type of stimulation that occurs during partnered sex report lower orgasmic difficulty than women who report disparate stimulation techniques during these types of activities," <a href="https://www.psypost.org/2020/10/new-study-shows-how-female-masturbation-impacts-partnered-sex-58151" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Rowland told PsyPost</a>.</p><p><strong>Does relationship satisfaction lead to better sex?<br><br></strong>Another interesting takeaway from this particular study is that relationship satisfaction is a key variable in understanding just how satisfied women were in both their partnered and solo sex activities. In general, women who are more satisfied with their relationship with their partner had lower orgasmic difficulty.</p><p>"This relationship is likely bi-directional," Rowland explained. "Women who have greater sexual satisfaction during partnered sex enjoy the intimacy with their partner, thus enhancing their relationship. At the same time, women who have a better relationship with their partner are likely better at communicating their sexual needs to them, thus increasing their potential for arousal and orgasm." </p>
How to communicate with your partner about masturbation and sexual desires<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc2NjA1MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MzM2ODE3NX0.dU8ehnrlPiDQgTzt8rLPxkAwbF1T23_eosUenosKJ7U/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=37%2C0%2C37%2C0&height=700" id="eafbd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e0d7981116ef520ca9e45da5c3d801e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="couple under sheets in bed" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
How do you talk to your partner about your sexual needs and desires?
Credit: Sasin Tipchai on Pixabay<p>Talking to your partner about sex is key to having better sex. Kate McCombs, a sex and relationships educator, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex-partner-communication" target="_blank">spoke with HealthLine</a> about this very topic: "When you avoid those vital conversations, you might avoid some awkwardness, but you're also settling for suboptimal sex."</p><p><strong>These conversations don't just center around desire and pleasure. <br><br></strong>Talking about sex, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex-partner-communication#frequencytalk" target="_blank">according to Healthline</a>, should include things such as sexual health, how frequently you'd like to be having sex, the things you would like to explore with your partner, and how to deal with times when you and your partner want and need <a href="https://bigthink.com/sex-relationships/sexual-rejection-2645740543" target="_blank">different things</a> during sex. </p><p><strong>Reading erotica (or talking about an erotic story you've read) can help. <br><br></strong>According to the World Literacy Foundation, reading has been found to decrease blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and reduce stress. In fact, as little as six minutes of reading can slow your heart rate and improve your overall health. Reading erotica can not only help get you in the mood, but <a href="https://bigthink.com/sex-relationships/benefits-of-reading-erotica" target="_blank">research suggests</a> it can also help you discover more about your sexuality and communicate your needs with your partner. </p><p><strong>Start with simple questions to get to know your partner more intimately.<br><br></strong> Megwyn White, Director of Education for Satisfyer (a leading sexual wellness brand based in Germany), <a href="https://bigthink.com/sex-relationships/healthy-sex-life-couples?rebelltitem=3#rebelltitem3" target="_self">explained in this previous article</a> how to ask your partner non-confrontational and fun questions that can help bring you closer together and provide a good base for communicating about sexual desires. <br></p>This can include questions such as:<br><br><ul><li>"Are there things I'm not doing [during sex] that you wish I would?"</li><li>"What is your favorite sexy memory of us?"</li><li>"Is there any moment of our sex life in the past that you'd like to recreate?" </li></ul><div>Asking your partner these kinds of questions is a good starting point for communication about sex, consent, and desires. </div>