You Asked.

My background is in psychoanalysis so my thought process is grounded from an analytic perspective and embellished through work and personal experiences. What is expressed is my opinion at this time, and nothing more. I have done minimal research online but have done research in the literature on theory and discussed off and on in an ongoing discussion group. When considering Dominance and Submission looking to the extreme, sado-masochism, may make some elements easier to understand. It’s important to remember that we are talking about a spectrum of behaviors that range from a dominant gesture or a submissive act to complete control, control to the point of pleasure and pain. Similarly, submission, completely to the point of surrendering all control even that of pleasure and pain.

There is a truth in psychoanalysis that says, “Often things are the opposite of how they appear.”

What is being expressed has nothing to do with mental illness. However, just as with many activities, there are behaviors in the extremes that may attract individuals that are mentally ill.

Sadist – Sexual satisfaction is dependent on suffering or humiliation inflicted upon another. However, the notion of sadism can be extended beyond the perversion described by sexologist to identify numerous more embryonic forms and sadism can be viewed as one of the fundamental components of instinctual life.

Masochist – Sexual satisfaction is tied to the suffering or humiliation undergone by the subject. Freud extended the notion of masochism beyond the perversion as described by sexologists. He identifies masochistic elements in numerous types of sexual behaviors and sees fundamentals of masochism in infantile sexuality. He also described forms, notably moral masochism, where the subject, as a result of an unconscious sense of guilt, seeks out the position of victim without any sexual pleasure being directly involved.

Sado-Masochism – The combining of sadism and masochism is not just a way of stressing whatever isomorphism and complementarity there may be between the two perversions: the compound term denotes a pair of opposites that is as fundamental to the evolution of instinctual life as it is to its manifestations. It is in this sense that the term sado-masochism has been adopted by psychoanalysis to bring out the interplay between the two postures, not only in the intersubjective conflict (domination-submission) but also in the structure of the individual (self-punishment).

I believe the pull toward a dominant/submissive form of relationship in part or the whole is based in the individual’s instinctual life. Thus, the since of something darker, more primitive, it is. When considering our instinctual life we are considering our more primitive mind where basic impulses originate, i.e. fight or flight, survival.

Some are drawn to explore their inner world more in depth than others. This is the element that attracts some individuals that live completely in an inner world. These may be individuals that it might be better to stay away from. You can’t enter their world and can never be a real part because their world isn’t real.

But the vast majority of individuals that are drawn to some form of dominant/submissive relationship are drawn in an attempt to fill a need of their instinctual life. This is not perverted and is a need that can be met to the gratification of both. This is just one of the elements that need to mesh and come together so that each feels safe and taken care of to be able to free their mind of conscious thought to explore the more primitive.

Does the truth of things often being the opposite of what they appear apply? Yes, the submissive position is in control of the dominant's pleasure. If the submissive does not display submissive behaviors the dom derives no pleasure. Thus the submissive is in control by their act of submission and granting the dom pleasure.

For me first admitting I have instinctual needs that I have denied, believing instead I should be something I am not was hard. Then after admitting I have needs, what they are and how to get the needs met is the adventure I’m on.
mindmstr mindmstr
51-55, M
2 Responses Jul 16, 2012

Thank you for this. It is well written and gives a better understanding of some of my desires. ANd yes, the admission was very difficult for me as well. I'm on the same quest.

I am on a quest-seeking the answer to why you took my hand in friendship... I think it may emanate from my admission of natural submissive tendencies? Is that why?