BDSM and Past Trauma

It may take a couple generations or more for the psychiatric community to completely move away from the concept that BDSM is primarily about working through past abuses through sexual activity. Even the BDSM community itself – particularly those who choose to draw a strict line between BDSM play and sex – are contributing to that school of thought. Joe Kort recently resurrected something that he had written early last year about the line between trauma play and reenactment – the former being a safe and controlled play session meant to help an individual own one’s past trauma, and the latter being a part of psychotherapy.

The BDSM community typically warns against making anyone feel unsafe during play by dredging up past traumas, or intentionally hitting known emotional triggers. Kort suggests that at least some people crave pain in a sexual situation because of past trauma, but also points out that it is possible for this to be perfectly safe and healthy.

However, this is not the only reason people wish to engage in BDSM. While the underlying psychological triggers for these desires might be buried in one’s past, there are also practitioners who use these activities to prevent psychiatric problems from the stress in their current lives. How many times have we heard BDSM referred to as a way to leave stress behind?

The current problem is “50 Shades,” and the misconception that only people with a painful past would desire pain to be mixed with sex. There really is something far more primal than that at play, so now it is time to start talking about that. Why do you crave pain, or enjoy inflicting it?

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