The Anatomy of Masochism: Why Some People enjoy Pain

For a person, as for any other living being, it is completely natural to avoid unpleasant sensations, and especially pain. This is how everything works in our world — the instinct of self-preservation is inextricably linked with our feelings. From this point of view, the existence of masochists who enjoy pain is inexplicable. What mechanisms make a person look for pain during sex and why are the preferences and fetishes of the tortured so diverse?

The Anatomy of Masochism: Why Some People enjoy Pain

It should be noted that there are not so many people who like pain as a prelude to sex or right during the process itself. Although the available statistics are somewhat alarming. In 2014, a survey was conducted, during which researchers managed to communicate on forbidden topics with 391 people from 29 countries of the world.

Surprisingly, half of the respondents admitted that they had participated in an act of masochism at least once in their lives, and half reported that they had played the role of a sadist at least once. The study showed that among masochists there are more women than men-69% against 51%, but among sadists, on the contrary, representatives of the strong half are leading-45% against 53%.

Scientists believe that the reason for women's addiction to masochism is not in the love of ladies for pain, but in female gender socialization. The same can be safely said about men, with their sadistic tendencies.

Pain and pleasure are inextricably linked, and this union is laid down at the level of biology. An example is running. During a jog, and especially after it, most of us experience some discomfort and even real muscle pain.

This is a completely normal phenomenon associated with the appearance of lactic acid in the muscle tissue during oxygen starvation. It is a product of the breakdown of glucose — a vital substance for us. Lactic acid irritates the receptors that transmit a pain signal to the brain through the nerves and spinal cord.

The Anatomy of Masochism: Why Some People enjoy Pain

But the brain is not only an analyzer of pain, but also a cure for it. The hippocampus is a small area of the brain that resembles a seahorse. It produces "natural drugs" - endorphins, which help to neutralize painful sensations. Acting on opioid receptors in the brain, they block the release of substances responsible for transmitting pain signals.

But a kind of anesthesia is not the only benefit from endorphins. In parallel, they affect the areas of the brain responsible for passionate love. Our internal opiates are very effective, and most importantly, absolutely natural.

Intense physical exercise releases another painkiller-anandamide. It is also called bliss chemical — a blessed substance. It is associated with the cannabioid receptors and causes sensations similar to those that a person experiences using marijuana.

The Anatomy of Masochism: Why Some People enjoy Pain

But it is quite obvious that the pain can be different. It is hardly appropriate to compare the sensations we receive from light slaps and those that are the result of blows with a stick. The theory of "moderate masochism" states that a person experiences sensual pleasures from pain, which the brain recognizes as not dangerous to life and health.

It's like an addiction to spicy food. We experience a burning sensation in the mouth and larynx from spices, but we know perfectly well that this phenomenon does not create a danger for us. Many children do not like spicy food, but with age they begin to get into the taste and, often, grow up to be lovers of" hot " dishes.

Practicing BDSM, a person very quickly learns to distinguish "good "pain from"bad". A flogger blow burning the skin is a good pain controlled by the upper one, but an accidental leg cramp during shibari is a bad pain and possibly signaling a problem.

In 2011, scientists conducted an interesting study — using MRI, they looked into the brain of a masturbating woman. It turns out that during orgasm, 30 zones were activated, and several of them turned out to be zones responsible for the feeling of pain.

Another study showed that cancer patients who had some areas of the spinal cord blocked to relieve unbearable chronic pain lost the ability to experience orgasm. At the same time, after the return of the functions of the nervous system, with the return of pain, the highest sensual pleasure also returned. Sometimes anesthesia eliminated not only negative feelings, but also dulled the pleasure.

This in no way means that it is impossible to get full satisfaction without pain. These facts once again confirm that pain and high are closely interrelated not only on a psychological level, but also on a completely material physiological one.

The Anatomy of Masochism: Why Some People enjoy Pain

A decade ago, the desire to combine pain and sexual satisfaction was considered unnatural. Sadists and masochists were recognized as perverts whose psyche was traumatized in childhood. Such a point of view is clearly visible in the acclaimed film "50 shades of Grey", the main character of which is a man with a complex mental organization and deep mental injuries.

In the Netherlands, they somehow decided to check whether the stereotypical point of view corresponds to reality or was simply imposed on us. To do this, psychologists asked a thousand men and women, supporters of BDSM and the same number of conservative people of both sexes, who had never thought of using BDSM techniques in bed, to fill out questionnaires.

It turned out that BDSM lovers were more extroverted, confident and friendly. They were also not prone to neurosis. They trusted their partners and were less afraid of breaking up relationships than ordinary people. The result is that the BDSM group turned out to be more mentally well-off.

The Anatomy of Masochism: Why Some People enjoy Pain

However, it is necessary to take into account several important nuances that scientists preferred not to make public. Firstly, lovers of hard sex were selected on one specialized site and, in fact, were a single community. And secondly, the control group was on average younger and had a low level of education.

All over the world, masochism has ceased to be spoken of as a kind of disease. Such a practice can be recognized as a pathology only if the games go too far and begin to pose a danger. Therefore, it must be remembered that BDSM is based on three main points: voluntariness, reasonableness and safety.

Keywords: BDSM | Love | Brain | Psychology | Torture

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