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This article explores the literature ing for how painful stimuli may be experienced as pleasurable among practitioners of BDSM, and contrasting this with how it is experienced as painful among non-BDSM individuals. We reviewed the available literature on pain and bdsm pain BDSM, and used the findings bdsm pain postulate a theory ing for how painful stimuli are experienced as pleasurable. Our theory was then checked with BDSM practitioners.


Bdsm Pain

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BDSM is an acronym describing bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and bdsm pain and masochism. Afflicting or receiving pain is usually an important part of the BDSM interaction. This research will focus on better understanding the aspect of pain within a BDSM interaction.

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Pain requires a referent because it demands attention, it focuses bdsm pain our bodies, on their bounds and limits Wendell Pain—whether acute or chronic—requires us to renegotiate the spaces of our lives, of how we relate to and live in the world Norridge ; we are "[cut] off from other people's reality" Wendellnot because pain lacks meaning, but because chronic pain makes us abject, monstrous, other. This approach also fosters a friendly, supportive relationship between researcher and participant, which has the intention of enabling the participant to feel that their narrative is being heard and valued—and that they feel able to contest the researcher's bdsm pain and critiques of the narratives.

The difference between the experiences of chronic and kink pain can be broadly thought of as experiences of involuntary but expected chronic pain, and experiences of chosen, expected pain. The acronym BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, domination and bdsm pain, sadism and masochism Langdridge and Barker ; Taylor bdsm pain Ussher ; but it is also referred to here by the participants' preferred term of 'kink.

In acknowledging this, and actively inviting participants to speak back to my understandings, not only did this acknowledge spaces for misunderstandings, but re-centred participants as experts bdsm pain their own lives—instead of ontologically invalidating their narratives, an experience all the participants and myself had shared at some point in bdsm pain becoming chronically pained and thus something I was anxious to avoid repeating. Chosen pain, in the case of the participants, came from deliberate, consensual, kink play; it was expected in that they engaged in their preferred practice such as flogging or caning knowing beforehand that they would experience pain as a result.

In the research, it became quickly obvious that one does not lead to the other, but nor does chronic pain make being kinky impossible. The paper identifies how chronic pain is a disability and lays out the ways in which a bdsm pain of chronic pain — and cripping chronic pain — is a productive exploration of pain. Morris' statement effectively demonstrates the discourse that living a good life, a life that contains joy and happiness and pleasure in forms meaningful to the self, while also living with chronic pain is incomprehensible, an unimaginable state—the two are diametrically opposed.

Bdsm pain and Catherine played entirely in private, keeping their preference for BDSM very much apart from the rest of their lives, while the others all had kinky social circles. Chronic pain, however, bdsm pain not consented bdsm pain but it is also not unexpected —it is pain that has been experienced for some time, bdsm pain is expected to continue for an unknown duration.

Scarry and more recently Langdridge bplace pain as without a referent—"it is not of, or for anything, having no referential quality … [it] represents experience that is not shared—not turned out in the worlds—and therefore not bdsm pain accessible to others" ibid, Pain without referent is positioned as an attack on the phenomenological self by Bdsm painas a sensation that destroys who we are and how we relate to the world. For some participants, play was erotic and sexualised—and sexual gratification was a part of their play—while for others, play was not always erotic, and did not necessarily include or preclude sexual gratification; this has been observed in other s of BDSM communities Weiss ; Newmahr ; Bauer ; Langdridge and Barker The forms of the relationships within which play took place varied as well; Natalie, Catherine, Michelle and Rita all played within committed romantic and sexual relationships—as did Edward at the start of the interview period, and David towards the end of the interview period.

It is not enough to consider chronic pain as the same as acute pain but felt over longer. Ablebodymindedness emphasises that in order to be normal, a person must be read as lacking any disability. Viewing chronic pain through bdsm pain crip lens exposes the discursive construction of chronic pain, and allows us to critique normative bdsm pain of pain.

Charlie, Julie, Rita, and David all had regular or semi-regular play partners who they were not in committed relationships with, but the frequency and regularity of this play varied, and some of those relationships were not centred exclusively around play scenes.

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Morris, in his text The Culture of Paindescribes chronic pain as "a nightmare from which we may never truly awaken—or a waking state in which the nightmare never ends"71but this reveals as much about Morris' bdsm pain of chronic pain as it does about how he understands the experience—chronic pain is regarded as a constant nightmare state because acute pain is positioned as torture.

My appreciative inquiry approach is rooted in interpretive phenomenological analysis IPA Langdridge a; Murray ; Langdridge and Buttwhich focuses on "how participants experience their world, bdsm pain hence enables an insider's perspective" Murray Rather than seeking to contend with the narratives, this approach seeks to explore themes revealed through the narrative. As a chronically pained person myself, my experiences coloured my understandings, how I heard—and what I expected to hear.

Chronic pain impacts, and becomes a part of, the phenomenological self, and thus living with chronic bdsm pain produces a particular cripistemology—the understanding bdsm pain the world produced and narrated by those living with chronic pain is forever coloured by chronic pain. However, only Julie and David described themselves as 'regulars' on their local scene, and Julie stopped attending face-to-face scene events partway through the interview period due to a change in her capacities.

Kink pain was identified as a contrast to experiences of chronic pain that, at first bdsm pain, appears not just distinct, but opposing—why would someone who lives with chronic pain want more pain? The research process was developed with space for unreliability—unreliable bodyminds and unreliable understandings—on the part of researcher and researched, as well as to build a space in which cripistemological understanding could be reached, in which one person bdsm pain appreciate the lived experience of another while acknowledging that a complete and thorough understanding is impossible, acknowledging the lack of a single cohesive shared narrative—indeed explicitly seeking and bdsm pain space points at which narratives diverged and contradicted, as a part bdsm pain developing cripistemologies of chronic pain.

Many of the participants felt excluded from the semi-public scenes and spaces of kink because of their disability—as some spaces were felt to be less tolerant of disability, or were simply physically inaccessible—and also because maintaining a regular scene presence could be expensive, thus putting it out of the reach of participants reliant on benefits or in low-paid work. Between them, the eight participants had fifteen bdsm pain contested or otherwise relating to chronic pain, and seven diagnoses relating to other disabilities—including neuroatypicality, mental illness, and physical disability.

The paper offers a crip reading of these non-normative experiences.

This explicit making space for discussion and contention aided the development of my understanding, as well as giving room to the multiplicity of cripistemologies and potential mis understandings. The chronically pained bodymind—one who is experiencing pain over months or years—is abnormal in that their pain is chronic rather than an acute bdsm painbut also in that they are in pain bdsm pain all.

Chronically pained people feel unable to speak of their pain—unable to express emotion related to their pain. This presents a challenge to other knowledge and understandings of chronic pain, which are rooted in discursive constructions of pain, and in medicalised understandings, and as such this paper seeks to challenge and present alternative understandings, while also acknowledging the bdsm pain multiplicities of crip experiences and cripistemological knowledges. This invalidation, for participants, was tied to feeling unheard when they spoke about pain—not just not listened to, but that the hearer was either unwilling or unable to comprehend bdsm pain they participant was saying.

This is not to say that the narratives of all participants did not influence the findings of the research project as a whole, but that their narratives are beyond the scope of this particular paper—and will be explored elsewhere. However, all of the participants, with two exceptions, engaged with their local scene to varying degrees, some socialising in kinky spaces on occasion, bdsm pain as attending 'munches' social meetings without play, in non-kinky or 'vanilla' spacesconventions, or bdsm pain. After exploring normative discourses of chronic pain through a crip lens, and identifying how bdsm pain is not meaningless, but instead imbued with multiple meanings, the paper presents some findings from a recent research project exploring the phenomenological experience of people living with chronic pain who engage in BDSM play.

Because of bdsm pain, Scarry regards pain as inexpressible, beyond language. Participants are represented here by pseudonyms, but their identities are otherwise as described, using their preferred terms: Charlie, a queer non-gendered person; Catherine, a gender questioning bisexual person; Julie, Natalie, Michelle, and Rita, all bisexual cisgender bdsm pain David, a bisexual cisgender man; and Edward, a heterosexual cisgender man.

Through a crip lens, we notice that the normal bodymind is imagined as pain-free.

The sections afterward will explore participants' narratives in more depth, considering how normative expectations of pain shape the stigma they experienced—and how kink was a part of their living with chronic pain. Compulsory ablebodymindedness positions ideal bdsm pain as those who have the capacity to experience pain—indeed being able to feel pain is necessary to learn about danger—but the ideal ablebodymind is a healthy one; they do not or should not get sick, and, being young and athletic, they recover quickly from injury.

Given that they all received pain, it is not surprising that they all engaged in bdsm pain form of impact play—such as spanking, flogging, or whipping—but for some this occurred as a part of other play, while bdsm pain others the impact play was the focus. In the interviews, conversations bdsm pain on chronic pain, but with room to acknowledge the impact of other disabilities and lived experiences on how they lived with and experienced pain. The interviews revealed the participants had complicated, highly individual experiences with their chronic pain, but also demonstrated bdsm pain range of broad themes.

One of the participants, Michelle, is of dual heritage; 2 the rest are—or pass as—white. For the sake of readers not familiar with BDSM, I want to give a short overview of what it is, as well as a short overview of the participants' practices and places within BDSM. It also carries with it the acknowledgement that the experience of being crip includes experience of mental and physical difference within the same person, which cannot always be fully understood as one end or bdsm pain of a binary.

However, these definitions are also problematic; chronic pain can last for years, over lifetimes, and is experienced—felt—very differently from short-term acute pain. The three participants not bdsm pain here told narratives and recounted experiences that focused bdsm pain on the fluidity of pain—or their engagement with BDSM was different; this reflects both the conversational nature of the interview, as well as the multiplicities of experiences participants brought to the interviews. This ontological impossibility of chronic pain—the impossibility of imagining living with chronic pain— in stigma.

Involuntary pain, the experience of which was not the focus of the research, can be understood as pain experienced unexpectedly. Throughout this paper, I have used the term 'bodymind' rather bdsm pain 'body and mind' because, as Price explains, a dualistic division of the physical and the mental is less than useful, especially when considering "because mental and physical processes not only affect each other but also give rise to each other—that is, because they tend to act as one …—it makes more bdsm pain to refer to them together, in a single term" I have combined bodymind with the conception of compulsory able-bodiedness McRuer to produce 'compulsory ablebodymindedness' Sheppard not just because the former maintains the false binary of body and mind, but because it also further maintains the divisions between 'physical,' bdsm pain and 'cognitive' disabilities that has plagued the social model of disability.

For the participants, the expectations of normal and abnormal pain impacted their bdsm pain experience of chronic pain; in this section, I want to explore how ableist norms about bdsm pain affect bdsm pain people live with chronic pain—and in particular, how participants felt they were not just unheard, but actively discouraged from talking about or expressing their pain. However, my participants are not the first to have pointed out that it is not that people have a problem speaking about pain, but that people have a problem hearing about another person's pain Young ; Patsavas ; Sheppard As Nielsen and Fernandez and Bourke b have pointed out, hearing about pain is unpleasant—it can be distressing, and, especially when the speaker is perceived bdsm pain as returning to a well-worn topic, boring and annoying.

Bdsm pain conversations that came about in response to the starter questions formed the first interview; the second began with a second set of bdsm pain developed in response to a deeper post-interview reading of the interview transcript, which bdsm pain a period of reflection on the part of the researcher, and allowed for deeper, slower investigation of emerging themes.

To borrow a term from Kumari Campbell who is describing disability more broadlyliving with chronic pain is an ontological impossibility —it is something a person cannot fully comprehend until they themselves live with a disability, and the prospect of being or becoming disabled is in effect horrifying and abject.

studies of BDSM communities, beyond acknowledging that there are multiple distinct—and often entirely separate—communities within BDSM Weiss ; Newmahr ; Bauer ; Baldwin ; Langdridge and Barker ; Taylor bdsm pain Ussher ; Beckmannpaint a broad description of scenes which tend heavily towards being white, non-disabled, and middle-class, although otherwise diverse in terms of practices and sexualities.

All of the participants live in England. Participants engaged in a wide variety of practices, according to personal preference and the dictates bdsm pain their bdsm pain relationships. Pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain IASP as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage" Merskey and Bdsm painbdsm pain it becomes defined as chronic once it lasts for a period of at least 12 weeks British Pain Society As far as dictionary-style definitions go, these are not bad—pain is felt as somatic sensation, and felt as emotion, sometimes in ways that are bdsm pain to the feeling bodymind.

The third interview focused on this space for discussing themes and analysis with participants; the questions participants were asked were a mix bdsm pain questions specific to the participant, and general questions reflecting on the emerging points of convergence and divergence in the analysis. The ideas and concepts I am putting forward bdsm pain this paper have their origins in a research project based in the UK, exploring the experiences of people living with bdsm pain pain who receive pain as a part of their BDSM play Sheppard I interviewed eight people three times each over the course of a year to bdsm pain months, taking an appreciative inquiry approach where I began with a short set of initial, deliberately broad, starter questions.

We want pain to have a referent, as the normalising discourses of bdsm pain require that it means something. Two dual narratives are identified: pain as a contagious fluid, requiring control of pain and the emotional expression of pain, and the uses of BDSM in that control. In effect, in shying away from hearing about other's pain because they are then forced to confront the possibility of becoming pained themselveslisteners silence chronically pained people. They fit the neoliberal risk society ideal of a flexible body McRuerwhich, on the rare occasions they do get sick or are injured, recovers quickly and completely before returning to productive work.

It is important to note the Bdsm pain is socioculturally constructed and thus practices vary from place to place—and while there are points of similarity and concepts shared between cultural locations, there are also distinct differences across times and places; BDSM relies on—and plays with—social hierarchies Weiss ; Newmahr ; Cruz ; Langdridge and Barkerand those hierarchies are not uniform between cultures.

Several participants, Julie among them, felt very limited in terms of freedom to express emotion due to the stigma of expressing contagious pain, and this meant they struggled to engage with the sensation of pain—as bdsm pain their pain recognised by others was an important part of coming to live with pain.

This paper forms part bdsm pain a wider project which seeks to crip chronic pain, and to develop cripistemologies of chronic pain.

Participants were invited to speak back to the research notes, identifying where they saw mis-readings and mis-understandings. The project explores the cripistemology of chronic pain; not just what chronic pain is and how normative discourses of pain shape our experiences of 'normal and 'abnormal' pain, but how chronic pain is felt, experienced, lived, and lived with—and how these experiences affect our knowledge of the lifeworld. The appreciative inquiry approach, which is also intended to enable exploration of those themes as they emerge during the interview, complements this through allowing narratives to stand as told.

Chronic pain is a disability; while disabled bdsm pain can experience chronic pain as a part—or result—of their disability, in terms of bodily formations, capacities, or un chosen adaptive approaches, others may experience chronic pain as a central aspect of their disability. While there is some acknowledgement from medicine that this is so, sociological or psychosocial studies of pain frequently do not make this distinction bdsm pain enough; twelve weeks of pain is very different from twelve months, and different again from twelve years—and hence this is where cripistemologies of pain come in.

Discursively, there is an assumption that chronic pain is the same as acute pain —just over a longer period of time. This bdsm pain not because pain bdsm pain without referent, but because being in pain is ontologically impossible for those who are not in pain. Thus, there is need to consider chronic pain within disability studies, and particularly a queer-crip framework—one that does not rely on the impairment-disability binary, but has space to engage with experiences of weakness, limitation and difficulty imposed on the self by the bodymind—and unchanged by experiences of access, social change, or acceptance.

Cripistemologies situate disabled people as alternative bdsm pain, as producers of bdsm pain particular kind of knowledge Mitchell, Snyder, and Ware ; Johnson and McRuer ; cripistemological knowledge about chronic pain can therefore only be produced by chronically pained people. Bodies feel pain—but the normal and proper bodymind is one that bdsm pain not only able to feel pain at appropriate points, but one that can verbalise their experience and have it understood by others.

This paper focuses on a part of the project as a whole; not all of the participants in the research have their words directly quoted within the paper. Half of the participants were exclusively submissive, while the others were switches, which meant they occasionally played as Bdsm pain. They may have a diagnosis of one of a host of conditions and syndromes, or may have an undocumented disability Mollow In addition, a strict bdsm pain separation of impairment and disability is not always useful, especially when taking a critical crip approach Kaferor exploring bodies and somatic sensation Morris ; Hughes and Patersonboth of which this paper does.

All have experienced having an undocumented disability at some bdsm pain in their lives.