CLAW 2013 Science of SM - Northern Illinois University

Report
Brad Sagarin, James Ambler, Ellen Lee, & Kathryn Klement
Northern Illinois University
Sadism would … correspond
to an aggressive component
of the sexual instinct which
has become independent and
exaggerated and has been
brought to the foreground by
displacement.
Freud (1938)
[Masochism is] nothing
but a continuation of
sadism directed at one’s
own person in which the
latter at first takes the place
of the sexual object.
Freud (1938)
[Masochism is] a peculiar
perversion of the psychical
sexual life in which the
individual … is controlled by
the idea of being completely
and unconditionally subject to
the will of a person of the
opposite sex; of being treated
by this person as by a
master, humiliated and
abused.
Krafft-Ebing (1965)
• Abused as children
• Irrational guilt
• Filled with unconscious rage
and the desire for revenge
• Fragile sense of identity
• Indistinct personal
boundaries between
themselves and others
Ross (1997)
Men
51%
28%
Women
32%
29%
“Pleasant thrills” from
inflicting pain
“Pleasant thrills” from
receiving pain
Clinical
Criminal
Consensual

Higher education and
income

Higher divorce rate

No higher incidence
of childhood abuse

Socially well adjusted

Many realize SM
tendencies at an early
age:
 Gay men before
straight men (all
before 16 yrs)
 Men before women

Partner selection, power dynamics, and
sexual bargaining in self-defined BDSM
couples (Cutler, 2003)

Great diversity in relationships

Compatibility ≠ identical kinks

Sexual gift-giving
Testosterone (pg/ml)
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Tops
Bottoms
Baseline
10 min before scene
Sagarin et al. (2009)
0.35
Cortisol (ug/dl)
0.3
0.25
0.2
Tops
Bottoms
0.15
0.1
0.05
0
Baseline
20 min after
scene
40 min after
scene
Sagarin et al. (2009)
To what extent would you use the word
"we" to describe your relationship?
7
6
5
Scene went poorly
Scene went well
4
3
2
1
Baseline
After scene
Sagarin et al. (2009)

132 respondents

56 women, 73 men, 3 transgendered
individuals

Ages 25-74

Recruited in Southern California via e-mail
through BDSM clubs and organizations







Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2
(MMPI-2, 567 items)
Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III, 175
items)
Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI, 100 items)
Postraumatic Stress Disorder Scale (PDS, 49 items)
Multiscale Dissociation Inventory (MDI, 30 items)
Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II, 21 items)
Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI, 21 items)
Depression
Anxiety
Obsessive-compulsion
PTSD
Dissociation
Psychological sadism
Psychological masochism
Narcissism
Borderline pathology
Paranoia
BDSM practitioners lower
than normative samples
BDSM practitioners not
statistically different
BDSM practitioners higher
than normative samples
Depression
Obsessive-compulsion
Dissociation
Anxiety
Narcissism
PTSD
Psychological sadism
Out of body
experiences
Psychological masochism
Borderline pathology
Paranoia
Connolly (2006)
Missing one’s
freeway exit
because one’s
mind is elsewhere
Ego selfinvolvement
Physiological short
term changes in the
brain caused by SM
related activities
Flow
The ego falls away.
Time flies. Every
action, movement,
and thought follows
inevitably from the
previous one.
Csikszentimihályi (1991)
1.
Engagement in activity chosen for its own sake
2.
Perceived challenges are high while skill level is
also high
3.
Clear goals that are regarded important
4.
Immediate feedback indicating success at task
5.
Highly focused attention
1.
Intense concentration on task
2.
Deep sense of involvement and merging of
action and awareness
3.
Sense of control over one’s actions
4.
Enjoyment in activity
5.
Distorted sense of time
The self is sometimes burdensome

"The greater the demands in my outside life, the likelier I am to
feel submissive sexually."
Baumeister (1988)
Wiseman (1996)
Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DL):
• Important for directed attention, temporal integration, and working
memory
Working memory deficits cause:
•
•
•
•
Less abstract thinking
Less access to memory
Less self-reflective consciousness
Less cognitive flexibility
 These lead to subjective changes
in consciousness
Dietrich (2003)
Common experiences of altered states of consciousness:
• time distortions
• disinhibition from social constraints
• changes in focused attention
Transient Hypofrontality States
-Runner’s High
-Meditation
-Dreaming
-Day dreaming
-Hypnosis
-Various Drug Highs
Specific variations:
• reduction of pain
• feelings of floating
• feelings of
peacefulness
• little consistent logic
• difficulty with memory
• feeling of living in the
here and now
• little active decision
making
Dietrich (2003)
“With my girl, she was punishing me, and I felt a deep sense of pain
and pleasure, sort of a one with nature and my environment, it was
incredible.”
“It’s very dreamlike. I knew that I felt good, and I was aware of my
partner, but I was not paying attention to anything else.”
“I felt intense pleasure and pain, I almost felt like I was flying and for a
moment I thought I would pass out. I felt like I was separating from
my own body.”
“An almost trance like state. Pain didn’t exist in any form.”
“While bottoming with my partner, I was able to let go to the point of
losing touch with reality while my partner spanked me.”
“While being dominated I stepped back inside myself. After getting the
rush from playing I lost track of what was going on, nothing seemed
to affect me while I was down inside myself.”
Read the
word
Green
Red
Blue
Yellow
Name the
color
XXXXX
XXXXX
XXXXX
XXXXX
Read the
word
Yellow
Green
Blue
Red
Name the
color
Green
Red
Yellow
Blue
Correlation does not imply
causation!



Recruited switches willing to be randomly
assigned to the top or bottom role
Friday, March 29th, 2013 at the Arizona Power
Exchange (APEX)
With generous support from:

14 participants, 10 women, 4 men

Mean age= 40.86, SD=12.46, Range: 23-64

Sexual Orientation
 1 gay/lesbian
 10 bisexual/pansexual
 3 heterosexual

Race
 All participants were Caucasian

BDSM experience (years)
 M=6.86, SD= 5.07, Range: 1-17

BDSM experience (# scenes)
 M=386.65, SD= 510.67, Range: 18-1500

Experience with study partner (# scenes)
 M= 39.64, SD= 79.73, Range: 0-250


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
Informed consent
Practice Stroop
Baseline Stroop
Baseline saliva sample
Baseline survey







Pre-scene Stroop
Pre-scene saliva
sample
Pre-scene survey
Scene
Post-scene Stroop
Post-scene saliva
samples (x3)
Post-scene survey
Very
Well
How well did the scene go?
7
6
5
4
3
2
Very 1
Poorly
Top
Bottom




“It went better than I expected since it was
random I did not know how well it would go.”
“It was fun and since I had never played with
(#6) before it was nice the variety and
different style.”
“Incredibly sensual and sexually charged, less
about pain than sensuality and sensation.”
“He got my masochist to come out then fed
her pain. I liked it.”
Impact of Observation
Very
strongly 7
affected 6
5
4
3
2
Not at all 1
affected
Top
Bottom
Tops and bottoms
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
Baseline
Post-scene
How intense
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
Top
Bottom





“the connection between us.”
“heavy flogging at end.”
“Being bitten on the tender sides of my
stomach and ribs.”
“Biting the spot where her heart chakra is.”
“no one thing. It all added up to a very
intense/gratifying scene.”
5
4.5
4
3.5
Sexual
3
Spiritual
2.5
SM
2
1.5
1
Top
Bottom




“Watching my partner as I brought her to
orgasm!”
“the sounds she made, the element of
control”
“Being bitten on the nape of the neck and
having full body contact. There was also full
chakra contact that was sexual in the energy
exchanged.”
“using toys on my partner's breasts and
genitals.”



“The connection between us.”
“the music drums/beat”
“laughter”





“Some intense cane strokes”
“It was an impact/sensation scene. The bristle
brush on the nipples and clit and caning.”
“paddles and floggers used hard”
“Being bitten and scratched.”
“Spanking”
5
4
Tops
3
Bottoms
2
1
Baseline
Pre-scene
End of scene
Post-scene
5
4
Tops
3
Bottoms
2
1
Baseline
Pre-scene
End of scene
Post-scene
50
40
Tops
Bottoms
30
20
Baseline
Pre-scene
End of scene
Post-scene
40
30
Tops
Bottoms
20
10
Baseline
Pre-scene
End of scene
Post-scene
600
500
400
Tops
300
Bottoms
200
100
0
Baseline
Pre-scene
Post-scene

36 items (1-5 plus “not applicable” option)

“I was challenged, but I believed my skills
would allow me to meet the challenge”
“I did things correctly without thinking about
trying to do so”
“Time seemed to alter (either slowed down or
speeded up)”
“I really enjoyed the experience of what I was
doing”



Flow
5
Exercise: 3.88
4
Yoga: 3.85
3
Sports: 3.68
2
1
Top
Bottom

Incredible community support for research
Participants volunteered for more intrusion!

SM activities

 Increase intimacy
 Decrease stress and negative affect
 Increase then decrease sexual arousal and positive
affect
 Facilitate flow

Different perceptions of scenes
 Tops: Sexual > Spiritual > SM
 Bottoms: SM > Sexual > Spiritual

Different perceptions of scene intensity
 Tops saw scenes as more intense than did bottoms

Altered states
 Objective evidence of altered states of
consciousness in bottoms
http://www.niu.edu/user/tj0bjs1/bdsm.html
Brad Sagarin <[email protected]>

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