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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…
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:
‘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.
Ok, 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.
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.
With 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:
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/the-gene-for-pain/3400134 (geneticist John Woods)
CIPA (congenital insensitivity to pain disorder): http://voices.yahoo.com/people-cant-feel-pain-1741147.html