Psychological effects?

Discussion in 'Safety aspects of BDSM' started by missjaysumms, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. missjaysumms

    missjaysumms New Member

    This has kind of been bugging me for awhile now.

    Me and my sub really enjoy humiliation and verbal abuse, and it can go really far. This is something that we talked about, and that we both expressed a liking for, so we incorporate it into our scenes.

    As I said, it goes pretty far and once or twice I have pushed it just far enough that she had to call yellow for me to slow down a bit. Needless to say, I felt horrible; but it only happened a couple times and we haven't had any real problems.

    What I am wondering is, do any forms of humiliation, degradation, or verbal abuse carry long-term psychological impacts? It's really fun now, but I don't want to be taking her to therapy twenty years down the line because some switch got thrown in her brain (if that makes any sense)

    I really can't express how much I love this girl, and I really am nuts about keeping her safe... Thoughts, anyone? I have already prepared myself for one of sebastian's three-page responses, lol.
  2. sebastian

    sebastian Active Member

    Humiliation play is tricky; in its own way, it's a form of edge play. I'm too sleepy for a three-page response, but here's how I think of it.

    Some subs come to submission through an excess of ego. They are alpha-types in their public life and consequently deal with a lot of pressure to make important decisions, lead groups of people, stay on top competitively or whatever. They have a strong sense of self. What they crave is a break from their alpha status. They want to not have to make decisions, not have to be on top all the time, and so on. For subs like this, humiliation can be a delicious push-back against their ego. Being insulted or degraded is a sharp contrast with their normal social status, and helps confirm that they are not in charge, that their submission is genuine.

    Other subs come to submission through a lack of ego and poor sense of self-worth. They may have been abused growing up, or suffered some unpleasant experience that they have internalized as being their fault. They may feel that they are genuinely inferior, that they don't deserve to be treated with respect, that they really are worthless, and so on. For these subs, humiliation and degradation can be a painful confirmation of their negative self-image. The negative things their dom says can echo things they say to themselves in their head. For these subs, humiliation is likely to be psychologically harmful. At a minimum, it can make it difficult for them to come to terms with the abuse in their past; at worst, it can actively feed their negative view of themselves and further their destructive impulses.

    In my opinion, humiliation play with the first sort of sub can be great fun and, if done with a little caution, is unlikely to do serious harm. Humiliation with the second sort of sub is potentially quite harmful and should be avoided. I refused to do it with my first slave because I figured out very quickly that he was too emotionally fragile for it to not hurt him. I do it a good deal with my current slave because I'm fairly sure he can handle it. But I watch his reactions very closely and switch to more affirmative things if I think he's taking it too seriously. We've discussed it several times because I want to make sure he's not being harmed.

    So play carefully in this area. Know your sub and don't just assume that if she says she's ok then she's really ok. Make sure she can tell the difference between the cruel things you say in play and the affectionate things you say in truth.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
  3. shauwn

    shauwn Member

    I just want to say, I loved your response Sebastian. As a sub myself I don't think of myself as your first example, the alpha type, so I probably fit more in the lack of ego type...but don't really feel as if I have a poor sense of self worth.
    I do enjoy some humiliation...but guess I wouldn't want it to go too far, or much further then what I'v experienced.
  4. missjaysumms

    missjaysumms New Member

    Wow... Thank you a bunch sebastian...

    My girlfriend does come from a very... challenged... childhood/teenage life.

    Now, that being said, do you think we should avoid it completely, or should we just tread carefully? I've been with her for almost ten years, and while this is a fairly new direction for us, we have been at it for some time.

    I'm kind of confused now, knowing that she loves it when I push her limits, but now also knowing I could do some harm at the same time...

    Sebastian, if you'd like to PM me and we could discuss some finer points, that would be very much appreciated.


    Mistress Jordan
  5. sebastian

    sebastian Active Member

    Well, it's not a rigid typology. I suppose some subs are in a middle ground between them.

    One basic rule is to figure out what sorts of insults or harsh treatment will genuinely upset your sub and avoid those at all costs. For example, overweight subs may be very sensitive about their weight and physical appearance. So don't call your sub a fat pig if that the case. Stick to insults that your sub can tell are not true. For instance, when I fuck him, I often tell my sub "the only reason I keep you around is to fuck you". He knows that's not true (who'd do my dishes if he weren't around...;) ) The insult stings in play, but when playtime is over, he can reflect and tell that it's not true.

    Its also important that you develop your sensitivity to your sub's emotional states. Subs are less likely to safeword during insult play, so you have to watch for little signs that you're being too cruel. Their body language may change, their breathing may change, they may stop making noise, and so on. Or they might suddenly start crying. If that happens, I stop play completely and move to aftercare. I cuddle my slave, tell him him everything is ok, I'm not going to hurt him anymore, and no one else can hurt him. If he's crying, I give him a minute or two to cry and then ask him why he's crying. Sometimes he talks about very deep hurts--"I disappoint everyone" or something like that. That's a sign that the play has gotten him to touch an emotional pain he's kept buried very deep, because he's not talking about what I just said, but about something else. My insults were just the catalyst for him connecting to some other pain.

    These moments can be therapeutic, but you have to be extremely careful. Don't try to correct the feelings he's expressing. They're very real, even if they have nothing to do with the play at hand. Just ask questions about where the feeling is coming from, and gently remind the sub that maybe those are old feelings, or that they don't apply in this situation ("you didn't disappoint me. You let me do everything I needed to do. I'm proud of you.")

    MissJay: you can certainly PM me if you want.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
  6. missjaysumms

    missjaysumms New Member

    yet another resounding response, sebastian.

    I think my girl does fall into this middle ground...

    Bearing what you said about specific words in mind, that does hold very true for us. After the one time we had to pause, we sat down and made a detailed list of words that aren't okay, and that has worked so far.

    I'll keep looking into it. Our next scene doesn't involve this, so I have some time to think :)

    I'd like to keep this thread open, if anyone else has similar questions/thoughts. Everything helps!


    Mistress Jordan
  7. blekker

    blekker New Member

    It is all good because we release all the energy related to ego. Once there is nothing left, there is nothing to hide.

    The real concern is psychological effects due to frustration, lack of sex and communication that carries to psychological disease.

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