What is so Appealing about BDSM?

Although BDSM is treated as a taboo by many, it has been in practice since the ancient times. It encompasses a range of practices that generally involve role-playing games in which one person assumes a dominant role (called a dom or top) while the other becomes submissive (called a sub or bottom). These games involve restraint, humiliation, and pain. During a BDSM session, the dom takes complete control over the sub, though few couples switch between the roles.

Surprisingly, recent studies found that BDSM practitioners are healthier and less neurotic than people with a normal sex life. However, the apparent psychological benefits apply to doms rather than subs.

How many people engage in BDSM?

A study conducted by Juliet Richters in 2008 suggests that only 2.2 percent of men and 1.3 percent of women practice BDSM. However, when Christian Joyal and his colleagues (2015) interviewed 1,500 men and women about their sexual fantasies, 53.3% of men and 64.6% of women admitted that they fantasize about being sexually submissive whereas 59.6% of men and 46.7% of women reported that they fantasize about being sexually dominant.bdsm games bound man

The effects of BDSM

A group of researchers measured a range of psychological and physiological variables in doms and subs immediately after BDSM sessions. Both of the parties involved claimed a decrease in stress and an increase in closeness in their relationship after the scenes, but the cortisol levels in the subs indicated an increase in physiological stress. Intrigued by this disconnect between psychological and physiological stress, the test subjects were asked to switch their roles. It was then revealed that both the doms and subs entered two different altered states of consciousness. It was found that a sub experiences an altered state known as “transient hypofrontality” that is characterized by reduced pain, time distortions, peacefulness and floating sensation. A dom, on the other hand, experiences something called “flow”, which is associated with loss of self-consciousness and increased attention. It was finally concluded that these pleasurable altered states are the main reason for people to involve in BDSM lifestyle.

BDSM in popular culture

BDSM suddenly came into limelight with the success of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey. The novel sparked many debates since its publication and reputed newspapers like the New York Times have published numerous articles about B&D (bondage and discipline) and S&M (submission and masochism) lifestyle. Even Madonna, Miley Cyrus, and other popular singers used the role play of "dominatrix" in their videos.

ls BDSM safe?

BDSM practices are not recommended after a certain age. In one case, a 67-year old man lost consciousness while in an S&M session and had to be rushed to a hospital. Some psychologists say that the sadomasochistic practices involved in BDSM can be potentially dangerous, but following few precautions like defining the boundaries ahead of time and using safewords makes a session almost safe.