Thursday, 15 October 2015

emotional sadism

We have discussed emotional sadism here once before though a very long time ago. You can read the previous discussion here. I have started thinking about it again since I noticed that "emotional sadism" is a search term used often to find this blog. In particular a recent search found this blog from the Google entry "healthy emotional sadism and bdsm".

I feel that emotional sadism is not part of bdsm. Rather it is a kind of abuse. What would emotional masochism be and how could that be healthy? What would count as "healthy emotional sadism" and how would that fit in with bdsm practice?

On Googling "emotional sadism" I find most of the entries seem very negative. However I suppose that would be the case if I just Googled "sadism". So can there be a positive way of experiencing emotional sadism within a bdsm context?


mouse said...

Does it have a definition? Or does it (the term) on the surface just feel wrong?

If the broad definition is anything that causes emotional distress, then many in bdsm do fall into that gray area. When Omega punishes mouse and folllows the physical punishment with corner time, mouse finds it almost more distressing than the physical punishment.

The reason mouse asks is because Omega is well aware of the distress this causes mouse and seems to enjoy it.

Now if the term is narrowed to where it causes deep-long lasting trauma that leads to fear of the Dominant, then mouse agrees it hasn't any place in the bdsm community and is abusive.

No simple answers for this....


Pygar said...

Thank you mouse.

Your comment has certainly made me think. Yes, I suppose that often emotional stress is caused in bdsm and to a certain extent that is part of the intent. Often building up a scene to create a huge sense of anticipation is part of it. Any punishment is also going to have a strong emotional element which again is clearly the purpose - in many cases perhaps the main punishment. I have heard often that the greatest punishment can just be knowing one has disappointed one's Dom.

I suppose these examples aren't what I was thinking of when I used the term emotional sadism. But then - why not.

So perhaps it is how the term is used. You have made me think much more carefully about this. I'm sure I will have some more thoughts soon!

So thanks again mouse - and for the hugs. Hugs back and regards to Omega.

P xx

Pygar said...

I found myself thinking about this as I was drifting of to sleep last night. I am sure my thoughts then were much more articulate than what I can remember now.

Clearly there is a strong emotional and psychological aspect to bdsm. Indeed it is central to it. I suppose what was coming to my mind when I was thinking of emotional sadism was emotional abuse. All of us doms use emotional and psychological techniques. It is a large part of what makes it what it is for Doms and subs. So what is the difference then between physical sadism and emotional sadism. Why might one be worse than the other?

Perhaps the answer is the same as that of where one draws the line between bdsm activity and abuse in a physical context. It could be it is the same arguments one uses to distinguish bdsm from physical abuse. Maybe those same arguments and distinctions come into play here.

Why then do I feel somewhat uneasy about the notion of emotional masochism?

Still more thinking for me to do ...

P xx

Misty said...

What an interesting conversation. I wish I was more experienced so I could add something, lol.

I do think you're onto something, Pygar. The example mouse gave it's not the *true* meaning of emotional sadism/ doesn't damage her, there is care and love mixed into that.

Pygar said...

I'm pleased you find the conversation interesting Misty. I am not sure you need lots of experience to add something, though of course those who have direct experience of this will have much to contribute. It is always OK to have a view, especially if, like me, you are prepared to review it when those with more experience provide evidence to challenge that view.

I think you describe the kind of relationship that many commenters to this blog have, where care and love is mixed into the sadism and masochism. I find it fascinating to discover the thoughts and opinions of those readers.

Thank you Misty and all others who contribute their thoughts here. I find it always illuminating.

P xx

mouse said...

"Why then do I feel somewhat uneasy about the notion of emotional masochism?"

It's hard, because you think quite literally no one should want to be emotionally abused -- yet there are people who seem to be addicted to stress or emotional high drama. So much so that when it's absent, they create it.

But is that type of relationship sustainable? It has to be exhausting to live that way.

Maybe it does all boil down to context and lack of a better term?

At some point mouse sort of hopes so. :)

Wonderful discussion!

Hugs again,

Pygar said...

You are right mouse that that I don't think anyone should be or want to be emotionally abused. Perhaps though through this discussion I am beginning to recognise that emotional sadism and emotional masochism could have a place within the consensual constructs of a loving and caring relationship, though this still fills me with some unease. The scars of emotional abuse are less easy to identify than the scars of physical abuse. The line where it becomes abuse may also be less easy to define.

Thank you for helping me continue to think this through.

P xx

mouse said...

Tottally agree with you here: "The scars of emotional abuse are less easy to identify than the scars of physical abuse. The line where it becomes abuse may also be less easy to define."

It's hard because you can't gage intent from a google search question. What did the person mean by emotional sadism?

But yes, there is some uneasiness in mouse too regarding this topic. Probably because many people over the years have insisted to mouse that her relationship with Omega is abusive, because he will physically punish mouse for things. They can't wrap their heads around the consent part. That's the reason Daddy moderates comments and eventually they stopped.

Not saying that anything should be ok or never make anyone uneasy, but rather to look at "why" it does with a lot of objectivity.

At least those are mouse's final thoughts. :)

It's not often that mouse has felt the urge to carry on a discussion like this. It's been a fascinating thought provoking thing for mouse to do.

Thank you!


Pygar said...

I am pleased you have joined in the discussion and made it so interesting mouse. It has certainly helped make me think as well.

So thank you too.

P xx

Rasberrygirl said...

I would ask why is emotional masochism that different than physical. In physical bdsm both parties are responsible for when to stop...they have to use safewords. They each have to trust the other to use those safewords...emotionally we have the same responsibility to protect our hard limits. I see them as the same. Physucal requires knowledge of physical limits. Emotional requires the same even if it may not be desired by most. I guess i would argue that those of us who lean that way may few it as personal knowledge f oneself and each other in both citcumstances...
Thank you

Pygar said...

Thank you Raspberrygirl. What you say sounds very logical and in that I find it hard to disagree. However emotionally I find myself with some reservations though I find them hard to articulate. I found the above discussion with mostly mouse very helpful in developing my views here and perhaps you are taking me yet further.

I do agree that Dom and sub have the same responsibility to respect hard limits and I suppose you are right that this also includes emotional hard limits. I wonder to what extent though this is discussed and negotiated in the same way as physical hard limits. I found myself thinking too - isn't aftercare providing the necessary emotional support following physical play ... so I tend to see the emotional side differently. Perhaps I'm just a softy!

Thank you for bringing me back to this topic which I haven't thought about recently. I wonder if mostly mouse too is still following this discussion?

P xx

mouse said...

Why yes, mouse is still following this discussion. 😄

Any type of deep discussion requires definitions of the terms involved. If sexual sadism is defined as causing physical pain and deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, emotional sadism would be similar. Someone who derives pleasure from inflicting emotional pain. It could be loosely defined also as some forms of humiliation -- depending on the individuals. The problem is with defining "emotional pain" what might be described as horrible emotional pain to one, might not be bad to another. Like with humiliation, some truly get off on being told to do debasing things, others just wilt at the notion.

Likewise, an emotional masochist would derive pleasure from some forms of what some might call emotional stress (hesitate to use the term abuse, but maybe something close. Yes, mouse gets off on mild humiliation, and yes Omega gets a thrill from knowing mouse gets off on it. Other things involving punishment, are more one sided, since it is punishment and mouse feels remorseful and he doesn't enjoy punishing mouse -- unless it's a mock punishment.

How would an emotional hard limit be negotiated? Sometimes, like with PTSD, a trigger happens and you don't know it's even there -- so it's impossible to predict. After-care becomes very important then. Discussion after the trigger, what to diminish the issue, etc.

The flip side could be someone with psychopathic tendencies, who looks for the vulnerabilities to do what is known as gaslighting. An emotional masochist might look to create drama in their lives or the lives of others. But it's truly doubtful anyone would really want that in a consensual dynamic..

It can become a slippery slope for some to tumble down.

Consent is the keyword, if Omega says to mouse during play, "You must really want to cum, and you know you can, but you'll be punished for it." He's appealing to the emotional side of mouse. Or when he says, "Rub yourself for 3 minutes and orgasm, hurry up times wasting, you now only have 2:30 left..." And proceeds to count down...theres a lot of pressure, but it's not lasting pressure. That's all temporary. And fun (even if mouse hates it at the moment).

This is a very complex topic.


Pygar said...

Thank you mouse. So good of you to comment again. You have given this topic such a lot of thought. As you say it is a very complex topic yet you seem to be able to get to the heart of it.

Raspberrygirl suggested that we have a responsibility to protect hard limits even if they are emotional. You ask though how that would be negotiated. I too wonder about that. I wonder how much aspects of emotional masochism or sadism can be articulated. You use the example of humiliation. There at least there is something practical to refer too which presumable can be negotiated clearly. However if the emotional sadism was more about trying to make the submissive feel negatively about themselves or become genuinely upset or depressed then I think that could become a much more difficult area to negotiate and I am unsure of circumstances where it would be appropriate.

As you say it is important to define terms and perhaps I am thinking along the wrong lines. For I can see how humiliation for instance is often used and can be negotiated and limits negotiated and agreed.

I too find it very complex and have been very grateful for your contributions as well as those by Rapberrygirl and Misty for helping me to develop my own thoughts about this fascinating topic.

Thanks again mouse and good luck with the house move!

P xx

Misty said...

It has been difficult for me to separate BDSM word definitions from their true definitions, and I think that topic is worth mentioning here.

I have had the unfortunate opportunity to know a true sadist and it troubled me very deeply when I applied that word (sadist) to my husband (because what does that say about me?!). The thing is, he is not a real sadist, not in the way a physiologist would define it. For example, he might like to use a cane on my bottom, force me to do things, and call me whore, but he only likes it because I respond so well to it. I respond so well because I know I'm safe, I know I'm cared for, I know without a doubt that he has my best interest in mind, and I trust him--a true sadist does not want you to feel that way. If someone purposely wants to depress their partner or if someone wants to be depressed, I don't think that's BDSM at all.

So, I think you could say that emotional sadism is not part of BDSM, just as you could physical sadism and many other things, because those things, in their true meanings, are harmful, damaging and opposite of what we do in this lifestyle. What we have done is take certian aspects of those bad things and made them safe and enjoyable.

Pygar said...

Thank you for returning to this topic Misty. I think you write some very wise words. Yes, we do use definitions differently. We don't use the word "sadist" for instance in quite the same way that it might be used in a vanilla context. I think we would all want to avoid a "true" sadist who had no care or concern for another.

So yes - if there is " emotional sadism" or "emotional masochism" within bdsm then perhaps it is very different from the true emotional sadism that gives each of us disquiet and concern.

I like your last sentence about bdsm that, "What we have done is take certain aspects of those bad things and made them safe and enjoyable."

Thank you again very much for contributing once more.

P xx