Pleasure, Pain, and Science…Part One

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I have Decided to separate this article into a 3 part series, since the information I gathered has turned out to be too much for just one article.  Well, hopefully 4, if I can convince enough of you to take the poll I have envisioned for the third part! The results compared to the research I’ve presented here, would be the theoretical fourth part, so I need your help, please!

Let me begin…

Photo from

Have you ever wondered why you love the BDSM lifestyle and your best friend, whom you have so much in common with, doesn’t? You could say it was the difference in family environments in which you were raised, but what about your brother, who cringes at the thought of spanking his girlfriends ass with a paddle? Shouldn’t he be open to that kind of thing since you both had the same upbringing?

While most science isn’t looking for answers to these questions, (since BDSM is considered ‘fringe’ at best, and ‘criminal’ at worst) it’s fun for me to be able to think about the research in this way, and present it to you. I’ve done my best to put together the facts and new information, so I, along with your help, can maybe put together a sort of hypothesis on why we feel pleasure and pain the way we do. Turns out, it’s a lot more than external stimuli to our nerves, and electrical signals being sent to our brains. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as:IASPimage

‘Unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, associated with actual tissue damage, or, described in terms of such damage.’

The ‘and’ is an important word to include, as so many doctors and therapists are finally accepting that pain is not just felt at the physical site in question, but also is being felt in your mind as well, which can have emotional repercussions. This changing attitude is shown in new and better diagnoses and treatments of ailments such as  Depression, Bi-Polar, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and Fibromyalgia. Pain is subjective, meaning it is a personal statement, and cannot be measured in any way but by the person feeling it. In this way of looking at it, you could say, and be correct, “pain is in the genes”.

In fact, it turns out, it is. Or at least some of it. There are many instances of people, even entire families, not being able to feel pain ‘normally’. For instance, putting your hand on a hot burner, and not feeling your flesh singe. In one real, documented case, the sufferer had a broken ankle that went unchecked for over a week because they could not feel the pain of the broken bone, or the swelling tissue! Geneticist John Wood is currently working on the genome of an entire family affected in different ways of not being able to feel pain. Already his findings promise to open up new ways of treating pain at the genetic level. (The gene SCN9A is responsible for how we interpret and feel pain.) So, pain is essential for a normal, healthy life.

DNAOk, so you don’t have the time or money to have your genome decoded, haha. Neither do I. Some Neuroscientists think early childhood experiences  have effects on how we translate pain. Promising research seems to show that ‘pain receptors’ piggy back, if you will, with our basic ‘touch receptors’ during childhood development. This may lead to incorrect, or unbalanced neuro-responses, especially if we have early traumatic experiences. This rings a bell of truth when you think about the irrational fears some people have of everyday objcts, such as birds, balloons, brooms and clowns. (Ok, so some clowns are just plain CREEPY!) The point is, this could show how pain can be related to fear.

It goes back to the ‘subjectiveness’ of it all. We have all surely realized how you feel about something has a lot to do with how you translate it. Your best friend may be unwilling to try bondage, because of a deep fear of being tied up, or being out of control. Therefore, what she thinks about it, is as real as if it were painful. So even if she agrees to do a session to try it out, it is unlikely she will enjoy it, or garner any pleasure out of it, because of how it is perceived and thought about by her to begin with. 

Tighter iz better Nov 27, 2010
There are even some studies that show being born pre-maturely can affect your pain sensitivity. Heel Prick tests are commonly done to infants after being born to draw blood, etc. during these tests, infants are hooked up to painless
neuro-response sensing electrodes. They are then able to measure the amount of brain activity in regards to how much pain the baby might be feeling, i.e., the more the brain lights up, the more pain is involved. Done on both full-term and pre-term infants, the study consistently showed that the pre-term babies had more brain activity, which would seemingly mean they felt more, and/or are more sensitive to feeling pain.
baby heel prickWith that knowledge in your mind, you might ask your best friend if they were a ‘preemie’ baby, or think about how you know your brother was born early. Or did they have an early childhood experience they call traumatic? Could those things make them more pre-disposed to turn away from the BDSM lifestyle? There is no way to universally know what effect those experiences may have or have not, but I bet you’ll be analyzing your friends and family, and hopefully, yourself!

My Piece on “Pleasure” will continue this article, and will be posted very soon! So please check on ASI often, and hopefully I will have enough readers to have a poll taken and we can analyze it for ourselves!

Links for related info/research: (geneticist John Woods)

Infant heel prick study: and

CIPA (congenital insensitivity to pain disorder):

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About misssubmistressrose

Hello Everyone! I am a stay at home mom of 2 boys, ages 2 and 10. Been married to my awesome husband for 5 years now! We have 3 cats and a huge golden retriever in our family, too. My husband and I have been exploring the world of BDSM almost as long as weve been together, and I started my exploration in my teens, probably when I should've been studying! Its a wonderful part of our lives, and I enjoy each new discovery. In my spare time, (if I have any!) I really like to garden, and watch cheesey singing auditions on youtube, lol. I cook from scratch nearly every night, and do couponing, which not only satisfies my need to be "Suzie Home-maker", it helps fill in the money blanks as well, and doesnt everyone need to save money these days?! I am very much looking forward to contributing here as an author and forum motivator, this site offers so much in the way of education and satisfying the inquiring minds within all of us! I look forward to meeting and interacting with all of you ;)

14 thoughts on “Pleasure, Pain, and Science…Part One

  1. That is the poll, its part 3. I have just posted part 4,( which deciphers the results from the poll, but I plan on leaving it open, so you can still vote and participate, and over time, I plan on going back to see if the percentages change, or if PollDaddy changes the way I can present the poll! Thanks for your interest, I appreciate it 🙂

  2. Reading this article actually put alot into perspective for me as to how I react to pain, I had been a self harmer for a long time, and have recently been exploring this as an alternate, more positive way to express things. This article definitely made me look at it from a different viewpoint and helped me alot! Thank you, and I will be reading all your other articles and participating in your poll 🙂

    • Thank you, Leanne, for sharing your story and your kind words! Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have! I love to hear about positive changes in anyones life, and honored that I played a small part! I’ll be sharing the links one more time, and in a few days should have enough votes to decipher the results in my next post 🙂

  3. Pingback: POLL ONE: The ‘subjectiveness’ of it all! | A Submissive's Initiative

  4. Interesting article….not sure how accurate it is, but definitely food for thought. I am however one of those people that don’t feel pain “normally”. I’ve had a broken (actually crushed foot) since January. I only missed 2 days of work and never had it in a cast. I believe pain is very much subjective and people that have experienced extreme pain and overcame it early in life, understand that pain is relative. I also believe that when we experience that extreme pain, we must also recognize the adrenaline that was associated with it. On several occasions I’ve endured extreme pain, but the rush that goes along with that is as good as any drug I’ve ever tried. If you’re going to scientifically try to study pain, you may want to also see if you can somehow capture the release of endorphins and how that might relate to the pleasure that can be felt during that pain. Just my 2 cents (for what that’s worth).

    • If I had a lab capable of doing such an experiment I would love to! I think it’s hard to accurately study pain because of the very relativity you are talking about. We all react very differently to extreme pain, so it’s hard for any scientist to come up with a definite answer. Are you more careful about pain you feel because of your personal situation? I would not want to have to go through that! From the other cases I read about, you must be lucky indeed if you do not have lasting bone problems because of it. I’m not sure if I could take it in stride if it were me. I do how your will participate in my poll about pain, it’s small and quick, but I’m limited by WordPress as to what I can do. It will be up later today.

  5. Part 2 is posted! Please share it so we can get a good number of people to participate in the poll for part 3! Thanks everyone!

  6. Pingback: Pleasure, Pain and Science…Part Two | A Submissive's Initiative

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