Sadomasochistic consensual sex play may be gaining some acceptance as a socially or culturally sanctioned sexual orientation. The New York Times reports in a featured story, “A Hush-Hush Topic No More,” that a significant effort is underway in the United States and Canada to “defend the rights” of kinky-sex adherents and to acknowledge the practice as an expression of freedom and normal sexuality.
The recent best-selling books in the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy have achieved their wide popularity (70 million copies sold worldwide) by exploiting the strange, mysterious human weakness to “libidinze” (eroticize or make pleasurable) the experience of being dominated, violated, abused, or otherwise mistreated. One popular website reports quite seriously that the books are introducing youths “to a brave new bondage-loving world.”
Kinky sex in a playful setting doesn’t have to be a big deal in itself, providing one can take it or leave it. But behind the scenes, deep in our psyche, sexual arousal that is sadistically or masochistically produced tells a remarkable story about human nature. If adherents to sadomasochistic sex play were to examine these psychological dynamics, many would find their kinky pleasures less appealing. With greater understanding, we prefer real love to cheap thrills.
Pursuing sexual pleasure from sadomasochistic practices cultivates a deeper problem. Many people extract unconscious nonsexual gratification (a third-rate kind of pleasure) from their unwitting, stubborn allegiance to painful old hurts, memories, regrets, and sorrows. When sexual sadomasochism is practiced, this dark side of the psyche is awakened and stirred up. The consequences can include considerable emotional disturbance and disharmony, along with the possibility of psychological regression. [Read more…]