Thursday 19 June 2014

can D/s help support those with a desire to self-harm?

Ana wrote two very interesting comments about self-harm here and here.
"In my case, I crave the pain. I dream of it, I write of it... but I am in a strictly vanilla relationship. I will never get what it is that I really want, so I find other ways. I can only imagine the high one must feel when one combines the joy of pain with the ecstasy of an orgasm. Submission is intriguing to me in a literary way but it doesn't please me as much as it does some of my friends. We all have different needs. I'm curious as to how a dom has handled a sub who wants to self-harm and needs the pain? "


"The challenge I see is that one self-harms for a number of reasons. For me, it is an escape from reality, but at the same time a reconnection. Odd, I know. The escape is from the overwhelming emotions I feel. The reconnection is to stop feeling numb and start feeling pain. It is an incredible release but at the same time I know how wrong it is. I've often wondered if a Dom had a Sub who felt this way, how he would control it, would he even try to? Would he replace it with pain that he delivers? If a Dom is supposed to know and take care of all of a Sub's needs, I'd think that taking care of her self-harm urges would be part of that. I'm also curious that if a Sub was destructive in a mild way - not sleeping, not eating well, self-harming, small elements of self-abuse - how would a Dom deal with that? Punishment would only please the Sub who felt that way, as one of the reasons she would act out would be to be punished. I realize that there is a bevy of punishments that are not painful, but when one self-harms, it's not *just* about the pain. It's also about the failure, the punishment, and the redemption. It's an interesting grey area, one that could be dangerous if not handled well. In that way, the Sub could not be trusted, if she could not even take care of herself at a base level. Late night musings from someone who should know better yet doesn't. Kindly, Ana "

I do see a difference between this and self harm. I have discussed it a few times on the blog. I have found such posts here, here and here.

 It is a very difficult area and I think the points Ana makes are very apposite.

I am interested too in finding answers to the questions she asks as I know I certainly do not have them all. I would be very interested to find the views of others who may have direct experience.

Ana seems to be hoping that a D/s relationship might help her meet her desire to self harm but in a more constructive way? Is this a realistic expectation? Have others found it worked for them?


Anonymous said...

I wouldnt actively consider myself a self harmer... I dont dream of pain or write about it or crave it. Though ever since I was a child I have done things to my body that could have been considered as self harm.. I dont do it because I'm depressed or anything... I do it because I enjoy it.. Ive ALWAYS bitten my tongue... Weird I know.. But when I find lumps (uneven tastebuds) I have to bite them off.. Now as ive gotten older.. Purely biting them off doesnt do the job or satisfy me the way I'd hoped... This might sound a little strange. But the only way I fully get the sensation I'm after is to use nail clippers... I guess maybe you guys out there could understand that... Especially the masochists..
Another thing I do is pick my toes(the nails and the skin around them) I also use to the nail clippers for these...
I do it to the point where I lean over the sink and blood drips from my tongue and my feel bleed also...
I dont actively think to myself this is going to help me escape reality.. I do it subconsciously... And then once ive realised ive started doing it I cant stop...

maybe its my body subconsciously telling me I truly am masochistic??

I haven't fully experimented in this area... Though I think I may be a spanking fan and extremely rough sex fan hahah

I am only 19 - still figuring myself out... But this could be a vivid indicator of what I crave?? I'm not even sure... It seems my body has a mind of its own... What do others think???

Anonymous said...

And as for Ana, I think it would be a Doms job maybe to give you all the pain you need to satiate you so you dont look for it in other ways...
Something you and your Dom would have to discuss... For punishment... Maybe caging? So he can keep an eye on you so you dont hurt urself but he is still punishing you by not satisfying your needs.
something he would definitely need to think about

or bondage for a few hours... That would stop any form of self harm hahaha

Another thing I'd like to mention... Does anyone think of fifty shades of grey when they see 'ana's' name? Hahaha I do! All wenneed is Christian! :)

Unknown said...

"I'm curious as to how a dom has handled a sub who wants to self-harm and needs the pain? "

I am an ex self harmer and D/s has very much helped me keep away from relapsing.

The nights that I need the pain in that way, I can receive it in a controlled, safe way that I can't spiral out of control and harm myself.

When things have triggered me to desire cutting into my own skin, my Dom is close by with a flog to give me the sting and release I need a therapeutic session of precise lashes.

I tell him ahead of time how bad the desire is and where i would need the blades to take me and he substitutes the reaction with the flogging.

Whether it be a quick mean session or a slow one that builds up and releases the tears that I need to let out.

ReallyJulia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Anonymous - It is strange to read a book where the character has your name - although my given name is Ana, not Anastasia (though it is a lovely name). That said, the FSOG character is both mousey and a virgin! and is passive-aggressive. I don't think I'm any of those (certainly not a virgin).

I don't think I could bear caging, but that's an interesting thought. Ali Cat's insight about Dom's taking that need away from me - or perhaps fulfilling it in a safer way, is a comforting one. The idea that a Dom may do something he's not entirely comfortable with but is in the best interest of his Sub... that makes sense to me.

One of the twists of being a self-harmer is that not only do I need the pain to get out of the emotional pain I feel, but there is such shame ingrained in the whole thing. I've confessed to awful things to friends and lovers, but the fact that I purposely hurt myself and not for sexual release, that's hard to explain. Are you ever ashamed for being a Sub? I can't imagine if I were able to be in a D/S relationship that the shame from ANYTHING we did would eclipse what I feel when I hurt myself.

And that, therein, would be the hardest thing I imagine about topping someone who self-harms. The voice in my head tells me how horrid and ugly and pathetic I am, that even the slightest hint of disappointment would send me reeling. It's not as much the physical need - that makes sense to me that a good Dom could handle that. It's the emotional care and comfort that seems opposite a strict disciplinarian. That would really require the strength of a kind and selfless Dom.


Unknown said...

I would just add that there is yet another interesting twist. As someone who self-harms and has a deep self-loathing that comes with it, I feel that I deserve punishment just by breathing. That's part of where the cutting, burning, hitting, and bruising comes from - as well as the risky behavior. I value my life, but I feel nothing but disgust when I look at who I truly am. So punishing me just feeds that side of me. It confirms that I am not worthy, that I am meaningless, and that I am a failure.

At the same time, many self-harmers (including myself) are extraordinary overachievers. Put me in a submissive situation and I will be the best damned submissive possible. I will not make a mistake, and if I do, I can promise that I will eviscerate myself far better than anyone could ever punish me.

A bit of a minefield, I imagine. One of the many reasons I could never have the strength or foresight to be a dom.


Pygar said...

Thank you Laura, Ali Cat and Ana for this fascinating discussion. I have little in terms of personal experience in this area so it is very good to read from those with personal experience. You each come with a different perspective which shows how dangerous it is to generalise in this area.

Thank you especially Ana for giving me the inspiration for this post and for adding to it with yet more of your thoughts and experience.

I think I may be the only one who has not read FSOG so cannot compare with the Ana from the book.

Thank you Ali Cat for sharing your personal story. I am particularly interested that you have described how your Dom has prevented you from relapsing into self-harm. Perhaps this helps to answer one of Ana's original questions. Though Ana goes on to explain how very hard that must be for the Dom.

There is lots to think about here and perhaps I still feel left with many questions.

Again, thank you all and good luck.

- P xx

Lea said...


I'm not a self harmer, but this resonated:

"Are you ever ashamed for being a Sub?"

And yes. I am, at least.

I wish I were not, and over time it has gotten better, but I am not wholly comfortable with my needs/desires to submit, and the activities I crave. I don't know how I would handle other types of shame on top of it, but just as my Sir assures me that my needs and desires are fine, and does his best to bring me up, so he would for other issues.

Pygar said...

Thank you Lea. I wrote about shame a little earlier this year here. However I think the way you and Ana are talking about shame is perhaps different from this.

Perhaps the topic needs revisiting.

Good luck

P xx

Unknown said...

Shame is an interesting topic. For some, I imagine that embracing shame can be very healing. For me, the shame is for what I have done to myself, for the failures I've made, and for the hurt I've caused others and myself because of who I am and what I do.

I imagine that others feel shame for various reasons. A sub may feel shame that s/he is happiest when ceding control to someone else. A slave may feel deep shame and unworthiness - for various reasons perhaps. I struggle with reading posts or stories of extreme abuse, where a sub/slave is told what a failure they are, that they are a dog or a bug or whatever which is interesting given that I feel I am a failure. I don't know why those tales hurt so much - perhaps because it is all so close to the surface.

I also wonder if those who are masochistic, like the first response here, don't feel shame? Just pain?