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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Why I think erotic submission works

Our brains reward us for
leading and following,
for dominating and
submitting
Over on reddit, somebody asked about the underlying psychology of erotic submission. This is my answer:

Though I'm sure our personal stories are what lead us to D&S, I strongly suspect that the satisfaction from either role comes from a combination of evolutionary psychology plus the odd way the brain works.

The evolutionary psychology part is a simple.

We're wired to feel good about being in charge - being alpha. However, not everybody can be in charge at any given moment, so we're also wired to feel comfortable not being in charge.

In other words our brains reward us for leading and following, for dominating and submitting.

(If you prefer, perhaps this is socially learned behavior; things go well when we lead or when we follow, but not when we compete pointlessly.)
no matter how much you wrap up 
your D&S in communication, consent, 
safe words, scripts even, a primal 
part of your brain registers it as rea
l

The brain itself is odd.

For a start, parts of it are stupid and can't tell the difference between the thing and the thing that looks like the thing.

So no matter how much you wrap up your D&S in communication, consent, safe words, scripts even, a primal part of your brain registers it as real -- hence triggering the evolutionary psychology working.

Then there's this thing where a lot of our emotions run in parallel.

Our brain chemistry makes it possible to like things we don't want, want things we don't like, get a buzz out of things that scare or hurt us. This is especially true if the sensible part of our brain is assured that we are really physically safe.

 ...much of the joy of submission
comes from ambivalence.
If that sounds complicated or implausible, consider all the other weird things humans do: bungee jump, extreme sports, horror films, roller coaster rides...

You can't meaningfully untangle all this or reduce it to a single factor because much of the joy of submission comes ftom ambivalence.

So in short:

Our psychology may lead us to submission. However what makes us stick is that it feels good on a primal level and at the same time provides the same kind of safe thrills as a roller coaster ride. The ambivalence is the buzz. Don't over think.

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