Fear In BDSM

Author: Raven Shadowborne © Feb. 7, 1999

 Fear is something that many misunderstand. It is a wonderful tool that is often used in BDSM with favorable results. Also, it is a word that has a bad connotation to it because people in general do not like to feel fear. Yet often we thrive on the very sensations fear causes in our bodies. Fear comes as a response to many different things. Something we know may hurt us, can cause us to be afraid of it. People sometimes fear things they do not understand and rather than try to understand it, they act out of fear and attempt to destroy it instead. Fear can become a phobia. When many people think of fear, they are really thinking of phobias. Phobias are based in fear, but the fear is raised to an irrational level that adversely affects one's ability to function normally on a day to day basis. (fear of going outside is one such phobia) 

Fear as it pertains to BDSM is a complicated topic. People hear the words "I fear punishment" from a submissive, and take it automatically to mean "I fear retribution from my abuser". There are differences between those two statements and situations. First off, a submissive should and normally does fear punishment. Not just for the physical pain caused if the punishment is a corporal one, but for the emotional feeling of having displeased their dominant. The submissive should not fear thier dominant will really hurt them. The second statement implies fear of the person themselves, not just their actions. This statement implies an abusive relationship in which the person fears for their lives and fears permanent physical harm. In the first situation, consent has been given from the submissive to the dominant to punish if neccessary. In the second situation, consent was not given and the retribution is not wanted. 

Fear, when felt, causes an adrenaline rush in the human body. This can make a person feel stronger, more aware of their environment, and even sexually aroused. Fear, when used in this manner, can indeed create a greatly satisfying encounter for the people involved. In this situation, fear is not detrimental, it is in fact heightening the responses of the participants. Within BDSM, a submissive may fear something new that they have not tried before, fear their own reactions to things, and fear the unknown. Take anyone and tie them up securely, blindfold them, and either lessen or remove their ability to hear, and the person will feel fear. Within BDSM, this fear should not detract from the situation, but instead it should enhance it.  

Many emotions cause chemical reactions within the human body. Pain releases endorphines, fear releases adrenaline, both of which alone or when combined, can greatly increase sexual arousal. Fear is used as a tool by many dominants, to increase the pleasure the submissive feels in the encounters. For this reason, fear is for many a great aphrodisiac.  

Within BDSM, fear is not phobic in nature. It does not prevent the participants from functioning normally. It is what I would call a healthy fear. An unhealthy fear is one that prevents a person from doing the things they should be (or want to be ) doing. A healthy fear is one that allows a person to respect their limitations and remain within safe limits for their activities. It does not prevent them from doing the things they wish to do. 



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