Concerns about dealing with psychologically unwell BDSMers

Discussion in 'General BDSM discussions' started by ClosetDom, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. ClosetDom

    ClosetDom New Member

    Lately, after talking in depth with a number of female subs on a well known bdsm community site, I was surprised by how many of them (so far about 6 out of 10) openly admit to being affected by either depression or mood swings and to being on medication for their currently medically diagnosed illnesses.

    I'm not sure whether such a high percentage is a usual thing statistically.....
    It makes me wonder whether these sorts of ailments often go with the territory in the context of BDSM relationships and practice, and, again, I am specifically talking about medically diagnosed mental disturbances here, not mere characterial flaws. I was discussing this issue with a friend who has much more experience than I as a BDMSer, and he feels that some subs clearly have deep psychological issues, while others are probably dealing with depression either because of failed love lives or inability to get their submissive needs met.
    I'm looking at it the other way the possibility of depression/mental illness being not a *consequence* of their failed love lives and inability to get their needs met, as my friend suggested, but rather a *requisite* at the base of their being drawn to the bdsm scene in the first place ... By all means, I want to make it clear that I'm not talking about everyone involved in BDSM, of course... this is in reference to the pretty high percentage of this occurrence relative to those cases I have come across and mentioned above.

    It is natural, in my opinion, to assume that certain types of mental illness and depression may very well lead a human being to self-hatred and the seeking out of corporal/emotional/mental punishment/pain in a self-destructive fashion. I would think it a good thing to be aware of and also to be able to recognize such dynamics when we encounter them in the context of the scene. I most certainly wouldn't want to make any personal contribution to that kind of self-destructiveness in any way, for ethical, moral and spiritual reasons.

    Most definitely, I do not find it acceptable to feed on another's sad medical condition in order to get my erotic kicks and fulfill my dominant needs, hence my delving into this issue and writing about it here for feedback.

    It would be great to hear from those who are part of this community and willing to share their personal experience, regardless of their orientation... Do you often come across this type of situation; are you personally affected by it; what do you think about the ethical/moral does that affect you. Looking forward to the input of anyone willing to share their personal experience in this regard....
  2. Aly29

    Aly29 New Member

    I would disagree that being depressed is a prerequisite to being submissive. I can say from personal experience that some more conservative upbringings can result in submissiveness as well as perhaps a small traumatic event. I was bullied as a child from the age of 11. I can say this has aided my submissive nature because it taught me to keep my head down and desire protection but to say it -caused- my role desire in the scene is elevating that pain to a pedestal. I won't deny there are some with deep issues but in my observation, they used BDSM as a way to help heal from the traumas of past rapes, molestations and depressions. They come to terms with their sexual desires and through control of a Master/sub, they improve their life. Returning to my personal experience, I am not depressed. I am a fully sane, very capable young woman. Somehow, I think that also has something to do with my love of BDSM. I am a rather outgoing and friendly person and I am always in control of my actions. To give my Master complete control and trust him with my body is a complete role reversal for me. Anywho, I hope I was able to help a bit. BDSM is more than depressed people needing to satisfy an emptiness. It is about control and trust.
  3. apex1o1

    apex1o1 New Member

    I associate it with toughening of ones self, I am working through my depression, it mostly channels its self into a bad rage, i tend to find the best way to releave the rage is to channel it on myself. other wise i would end up in serious strife.
    what ever the reason, Depression is a sick and disgusting disease that should be treated ASAP,
    I've lived with it for a long time, (think it had a onset at a very young age, )and its has a snowball effect.
    Relapse is very likely,
    and once the downward spiral begins it basically can't be stopped without proper treatment.
  4. sebastian

    sebastian Active Member

    Depression also occurs in lots of non-submissives, and dominants as well. So I don't think that there is any easy correlation between the two.

    In my years in the SCA (a medieval recreation group) and Vampire LARPing I've noticed that there were lots of women who seem to enjoy boasting about and exaggerating unusual medical or psychological problems. I've met women who self-diagnosed weird allergies, who claimed to have multiple personalities they could turn on and off, who intentionally ignored their diabetes and joked about it, and so on. These social groups, like BDSM, tend to attract women (and to a lesser extent men) who feel alienated from mainstream society and enjoy emphasizing their 'weirdness', much of which seems to be an affectation designed to elicit sympathy, to make excuses for poor behavior, and the like. So I'm inclined to think that the women you're meeting may to some extent fall into this category.
  5. sillylittlepet

    sillylittlepet Active Member

    I'm with Aly, as a sub without a mental disorder or past/childhood trauma I can say for sure that my desire to submit comes from somewhere totally different.

    Unless you have statistical evidence to back up this claim, its just speculation. I'm not convinced that people with trauma and disorders are more drawn to the BDSM lifestyle than others, as I know several people like that and they are vanilla. Yes, I'm sure there are plenty of people like that in the community, but its a BIG community. In the end I think there's a huge plethora of reasons people become involved in BDSM
  6. Smallest

    Smallest Moderator

    What SLP said.

    However, it is fair to be wary of starting a physical or emotional relationship, BDSM or no, with someone clinically depressed or bipolar, or someone saying that they are for attention.
  7. Topsbottom

    Topsbottom New Member

    Well said. I totally agree with you. :)
  8. ClosetDom

    ClosetDom New Member

    Nope, as I made it clear in my original post, I have not looked into any statistical data... My concerns arose simply because of the high percentage of subs who claimed to be affected by diagnosed mental illness and to be on medication for the same (6 out of 10) during some online exchanges...which came up as we started sharing more in depth about ourselves with in view a long-term D/s relationship.

    Though I feel it is very wrong to hold a prejudice against people affected by mental illness (thus marginalizing them), I admit I am thinking along your same lines when it comes to a BDSM relationship. I try to avoid becoming involved with "someone clinically depressed or bipolar, or someone saying that they are for attention" simply because I am no psychologist and do not think I have the capacity to first of all recognize and then cope with helpfully should those conditions be made worse by aspects of the D/s relationship. We all know that we are not talking vanilla can become very intense when limits get pushed, and this intensity can only happen safely, in my opinion, when the psychological/emotional environment in which it takes place is stable. I am concerned that such intensity is bound to damage something that is already fragile to begin with.

    It would be great to be able to tell the difference between a feigned claim to mental illness (in order to get attention) and an actual one... I am not sure whether anyone, except of course a psychologist, can do that with any certainty.

    From your viewpoint/experience as someone who has dealt with mental depression, do you believe it reasonable to assume that someone with such a condition, even when on medication, can go into relapse or worsening of the symptoms when exposed to the intensity of repeated bdsm activities?
  9. sebastian

    sebastian Active Member

    I've developed something of a sense for when people are genuinely ill and when they're pretending or exaggerating. In my experience, those with genuine mental illnesses actually suffer; they don't make light of their condition (although they may joke about the problems it causes) and don't parade it around as some sort of badge of honor. The fakers usually go out of their way to make sure that people know that they have multiple personalities or have tried to commit suicide multiple times, or whatever. They want to be praised for their suffering or receive sympathy for it, whereas the genuinely ill just want it to go away. Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but when I see someone talking up their illness a lot, I start to get skeptical and watch for other signs (like the illness conveniently 'turning on and off'--I knew one woman who had fainting spells, but only when there were men around to catch her from falling down stairs).
  10. sillylittlepet

    sillylittlepet Active Member

    lol how can you say 6 out of 10 if you havent looked at any stats?

    unless you're saying that out of the 10 people you've talked to, 6 of them claim mental illness. 10 people isnt really a good sample size
  11. Smallest

    Smallest Moderator

    ClosetDom, I know it seems like an unfair bias, but as I said, it's not wrong to be wary. You don't know whether you'll be able to meet their needs, nor they yours, especially emotionally, and you also don't know whether they're playing it up for attention. It's not that one shouldn't ate people who are depressed or suffering any other disease, mental or not, but you do need to be sure that they are what they claim, and that you and they would be able to cope in a relationship. It's the same as someone not suffering anything, of course, only with a little extra caution.

    And SLP, you're right about sample size, but it would be shocking to have six of ten women you spoke to advertise their mental condition readily. Even 'I am completely mentally stable!' is a bit odd, let alone a plethora of depressed girls.
  12. Hiding_Changing

    Hiding_Changing New Member

    Just thought I could give indifferent viewpoint here since I am a submissive with bipolar disorder. Not sure what is being considered parading around an illness but I will say I do not keep it a secret because I don't want it turning into some skeleton in the closet someone can pull out and use against me.

    I do not feel at all that my desire to be submissive is related to me being ill. One thing I try and watch myself for though, so I supposed Doms should watch out for subs with similar conditions, using the lifestyle as an excuse or disguise to be self destructive. When I get that way it is not me being submissive it is be behaving like a crazy person ( I suppose literally ) hoping something goes wrong. Doing things normally out of my comfort zone with people I do not know. When I do stuff like this I am not submitting, I am trying to hurt myself but having someone else actually do it.
  13. Nuka

    Nuka Member

    I (Nuka) am the Dom and I've been through depression, self harm, blah blah blah. And my family has a heridetary history of depression.

    My SO (ashlie) the sub has also been through depression, self harm etc. So then in our case there isn't really a correlation between the two.

    If you were to say that there could be some link between "normal" people being more vanilla than those with some sort of "mental imbalance" (no matter how small or large) than that may be an easier hypothesis to explore.

    Those in BDSM just because of the BDSM nature, are generally different to others who don't engage in the practice. Whether it's because of sexuality, experiences (like childhood type thing), backgrounds, even economics, lifestyle etc. But really I think when people try to "explain" why people enjoy BDSM, it's because they can't accept it as a part of life, they see it as abnormal and so have to justify it as such.

    Would be interesting though to see if there was an actual medical explanation to it xD
  14. sebastian

    sebastian Active Member

    Hiding: I wasn't trying to suggest that that being honest about a mental illness is a sign of faking it. Sort of the opposite really. What I was trying to say is that in my experience, some people will talk about a supposed mental illness in a way that implies that it makes them exotic and fascinating. They never seem to be inconvenienced by their condition, just melodramatically affected by it. For example, I knew one woman years ago who insisted she had multiple personalities. During her wedding, each of her personalities came forward to swear vows to her husband.

    Those who are genuinely afflicted with a mental illness normally acknowledge it to those around them (at least when it comes up for some reason) but don't go out of their way to seek sympathy. In other words, they acknowledge it so people understand what happening, whereas those who are faking or exaggerating symptoms do so more from dramatic effect and the attention it garners them.

    I'm guessing that you'd rather not be bipolar, that you hate taking your medicine and so on. The 'illness queens' I've met seem to enjoy their supposed illness and act as if being cured would somehow diminish them by making them less interesting.
  15. kajmir

    kajmir Member

    I have clinical depression, it can show any time, anywhere, no particular reason. Got it in my early 20's, never had sub'ish feelings till I was 32ish.

    Also a great number of anti-depressants kills sex drive...Not a reason to kill your therory, but something to consider...

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