How Does BDSM Affect The Brain?

BDSM (GoodReads)

BDSM (GoodReads)

We know that people who are into BDSM are more sexually adventurous, less anxious, and more secure in themselves. Obviously, all of these are beneficial qualities. But research suggests that it affects the brain in positive ways as well.

According to a recent study, each partner in a D/s  scene enters into an “altered state of consciousness” due to a variation in blood flow pattern to the brain. For dominants, this is termed “topspace;” for sub missives, “subspace.”

A researcher at Northern Illinois University studied 14 subjects “to test whether pain from sexual experiences may cause blood flow to alter the region of the brain responsible for control and working memory.” Subjects were randomly assigned to either give or receive pain, and took the Strook test, which measures “cognitive function for color and word recognition,” and questionnaires before and after the test.

Those who received pain fared worse with focus and memory. What does this mean?

When there is a deficit in a person’s working memory, they have less abstract thinking, access to memory, self-reflective conscious, and cognitive function, which leads to an altered state of consciousness. In S&M, this altered state transcends to one of focus and enjoyment.

The end result is similar to a runner’s or a meditative high, in that it modulates pain perception. It’s caused by “a lack of blood flow to the area.”

Even though it might be perceived as dangerous, BDSM is actually quite safe if done correctly. And I’m willing to bet that for some people, it’s a lot more fun than running or yoga.

 

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