Question: Should you be aware of where your BDSM desires stem from? Does it really matter if the desires are learned behavior or based on past trauma? If I find myself recalling childhood traumas during play, does this mean I’m pathological?
The psychiatric community originally deemed SM desires as pathological stemming from childhood trauma and abuse. Then again this is the same intellectual medical community who determined masturbation lead individuals to become murderers as denoted in Kraft von Ebbings book “Psychothia Sexualis”. A book still used today in some countries despite it being written in the late 1800’s. Today the DSM-5 states that so long as there isn’t major emotional discomfort our sadomasochistic desires are a “paraphilia not in need of treatment”. Yet many in the medical community and the general population still think it’s all about past trauma. (DSM-5 is the current diagnostic and statistical manual used to denote mental illness.)
I belief that like being gay or lesbian, individuals are born with the desire to be Dominant or submissive. However, as John Money stated in his book be the same name, our “Love Maps” are created in early childhood and drives us toward certain desires. For instance, getting a spanking and your parent tells you, “I’m only doing this because I love you.” may get you to associate spankings or to another darker extreme, abuse with love. Or having a chaotic home life and feeling the need to be in control to feel safe can lead you to wanting to dominant another.
Cultural norms play another factor. Sometimes we agree with those cultural norms and sometimes we go against them; for instance, I’m a Dominant woman who goes against the Spanish culture of machismo; and submissive men go against social norms of the man being in charge. (Note: we often “subconsciously” forget norm means “what the average person does”. Normal means we’ve placed judgment on the activity.)
And though, yes, some things are learned behaviors, a true submissive feels their desire stem from within themselves and responds to that need as does a true Dominant’s desire, though we can learn these behaviors and make connections with them. It’s why one of the questions I always ask a submissive is, “Why does he (she) feel the need to submit?”
Though it’s not imperative nor required for anyone to know “why” they desire to do something or “what” connection they make with an activity (ie: spanking or being whipped), I believe understanding “why” helps you accept yourself more profoundly and makes your relationship that much stronger. It also helps avoid discomfort with activities and problems in relationships. Ignoring these issues will keep you on the surface of what you can become and share with your partner be they Dominant or submissive.
If your behavior or desires cause discomfort, find someone to speak with. If it’s causing problems, find a Kink–Knowledgeable Therapist to address them with. Talking to a therapist doesn’t mean you’re crazy. It means you’re adult enough to seek guidance and assistance when necessary to enhance your life. Note, I specifically stated Kink-Knowledgeable Therapist since not all Kink-friendly Therapists understand the vast nuances which exist in the BDSM lifestyle.
The bottom line is discovering yourself–when you’re ready—little by little—opens the door to the world around you and you start living it instead of reacting to it. Plus, understanding your desires will ensure that you experience less abreactions during play as you stay away from triggers that can ruin your scene. Knowing your triggers and desires will ensure you share a more profound experience with your partner or those you engage with as you’re focused on the joy of the scene as opposed to the fear of being triggered.
Live with passion,