Pain play is something I’ve always had a contentious relationship with. One of my earliest experiences with CBT, for instance, was being tied to a St. Andrews cross and feeling nauseous when the Dom hung a boot from my balls (yes, I really started out THAT sensitive). Other types of pain would come up in scenes (clothespins on nipples, spanking, wax, etc.) and it would always either agitate me or cause me to become disinterested. Eventually I started craving progressively heavier bondage, and it necessitated being a little more flexible with what I was willing to endure. Back when mummification was still shiny and new to me I found myself wrapped up by a new Dom, feeling more immobile than I ever had before. At some point he gave my balls a few light taps and, much to my surprise, instead of feeling vexed I felt my cock begin to swell. There was a similar scene a few years later where a Dom straddled my chest while I was mummified and proceeded to lightly slap my face. This eventually made me noticeably angry (not being able to turn my head away was infuriating and degrading) so he stopped, thinking it would ruin the scene. Instead of the lingering anger I’d have expected I felt a sense of disappointment as he backed down and I left his apartment very confused.
Generally when I’m discussing more intense scenes with less experienced Doms, they are just as confused by these contradictions as I initially was. I’ve used my “tattoo analogy" with some degree of success but this only explains the difference between direct and indirect enjoyment, not the motivation. As can be surmised from this blog, my interest in heavier pain play is simply an extension of my interest in helplessness. If I feel I can move too much or otherwise affect the level of pain I am receiving, I fly into a rage; disabuse me of that notion and my dick will swell while my brain panics as coping mechanism after coping mechanism is stripped away.
It took me a long time but, thanks to my interest in some humiliation-oriented things like foot worship, it started to click that what was happening was I began to derive enjoyment from dehumanization. This later manifested in a myriad of ways, but it was there in that very first scene I got hard over pain. I’ve always speculated that my interest in BDSM stemmed from how compressed the dynamics were; that the level of trust and sacrifice involved is unparalleled. In terms of sacrifice, I can think of none greater than giving up your personhood to become another’s blank canvas. Paint it with screams, paint it with embarrassment, paint it with overwhelming and relentless pleasure; make of it what you will, it’s yours.
Whether it’s professionally or personally, I spend most of my time breaking down systems and thoughts into their most basic components and then looking at how they relate. I personally feel this is the best way to make any sort of progress regardless of the endeavor, whether it’s as amorphous as a dynamic or as staunch as crafting policy. If you break it down and distill it thusly, any form of power exchange stems from a mutual agreement to enable the Dom to exude entitlement. This entitlement could be sexual in nature, like a service gimp, or it could be protocol-oriented as it is in many Sir/boy dynamics. It could even be as simple as allowing a sadist domain over your body: it all relates to a subversion of will that allows the dominant partner the right or privilege to enforce certain expectations. When the power dynamic shifts enough that the sub’s obligation supersedes their enjoyment, you have a dynamic that enables a Dom to be entitled.
Naturally different dynamics will have different levels of imbalance, but this foundation is a fairly universal tone. Nearly as universally, being submissive is not easy in any dynamic regardless of context; it requires constant effort to relinquish control that any animal or human will want to retain on an instinctive level. Much of the entitlement that can come from dominance stems from a presumption that a submissive partner is expected to quell this need to retain this naturally coveted control. One of a benchmarks of a Dom who is becoming comfortable with this entitlement is annoyance; the expectations set forth become so solidified that the strain it places on a sub - to some degree - is irrelevant. If you can define expectations clearly enough that you can be annoyed when they are not met, you’re well on your way to fully dehumanizing someone.
As you get into heavier levels of intensity play, it gets more and more difficult to determine what a reasonable sacrifice is. The next progression for me beyond the face-slapping mummification scene was one that involved a shock collar and foot worship. Being a professional dog trainer, I was (and am) very particular that my training tools be used appropriately; random shocking was expressly forbidden when holding the remote. As I began to lick his feet it was one of the first times I had ever willingly engaged in something so degrading. He shocked me despite feeling like I was doing well, and I stood up with alarming speed. When he tried to restrain me, I threatened to scream and alert his vanilla roommates. Five years later I still wish he’d have grabbed me by the neck and thrown me to the ground when I threatened him like that; despite how justified I felt at the time, I backed out of a solid agreement and I feel that is unacceptable for the sub I want to be. He had no way of knowing what a big step that willingness was for me and it was unfair to be upset over something he couldn’t help.
Panic is something that is very prone to arise the more a sub wants to be pushed. It tends to be derived from the realization that all options to prevent something from happening have been exhausted; in that moment the last option I had was to scream deliberately to draw the attention of others. Had the scene continued as I’d described, it’s very likely I would have panicked and become compliant, if only out of self-preservation. The closer someone gets to this level of panic, the less human they become; their brain is so consumed with minimizing risk that defiance is no longer an option. All rationalizing and communication and deliberate action starts to fade away and you’re reduced to an animal acting only on instinct. To me, this is the epitome of dehumanization: you’re not just stripping away someone’s human traits, you’re actually reducing them to a thoughtless animal.
This sort of play has a lot of potential, but it takes an understanding of what a sub seeking this level of intensity is supposed to be, which is nothing. They are not a friend, they are not a partner, they are not a boy, they are simply an inexhaustible outlet for sadism and/or service. Physical safety is still very important, but with the right bondage setup and appropriate level of attentiveness, it should be alarmingly obvious when there is a problem other than the pain you are inflicting. If a Dom can see a boy fighting with every ounce of his strength and be more annoyed with how much he can move instead of being moved by his plight, the sub is going to feel it. When you’re on the receiving end of that, it invalidates any grievance you have with the situation; your suffering demonstrably means less than your captor’s pleasure. What could possibly be more dehumanizing than being pushed to the edge of your sanity, only to have someone be so unmoved by your predicament that they can’t be bothered to hesitate? I can’t think of anything that could drive home where someone’s place is in a dynamic more adequately.
To end this on a lighter note, I want to detail a scene I had that was fairly successful to this end - some if it actually made an appearance in the Shock Collar story. I was in my sleepsack strapped down to a Dom’s bed with my nipples/feet left out and my head tied down; I couldn’t so much as wriggle. He then proceeded to put rubber bands on my feet and tie my toes back to my nipples rather tautly. I was in chastity and this level of restraint had me straining pretty hard. As I mentioned, I really don’t care for pain directly, and every snap of the rubber bands eroded my horniness one step further. That is, until, my nipples started to hurt more than I could take. To alleviate them, I had to flex my toes even further back which meant I was willingly opening my soles to an onslaught of pain. With the added effort, my shins began to ache to the point where I couldn’t force myself to hold my toes back any more. I kept thinking to myself “Just ask him to loosen them,” but knew that he wouldn’t give me any leeway until the time we agreed on was over. As I lay there - calves aching, nipples burning, feeling so helpless I couldn’t even voice a complaint - my cock would swell every time I thought for a second about how fucked I was, and that thought would occur with every worsening ache. By the middle of the scene my cock was so engorged within the chastity he actually had to take it out for fear of circulation issues.
When you’re into things that pertain to indirect enjoyment, your body and mind can betray you. It’s a hell of a journey to get there, but I can’t think of a more substantial - or hotter - level of control than letting someone hijack you that way. If you’re going to play at this level it’s paramount you understand your own thoughts incredibly well, as letting someone that deeply into your head can be confusing. If things go wrong it is vital that you keep the lines of communication open; don’t let trauma or regret prevent you from an open and honest post-scene discussion. It can be hard because you feel like you should have communicated better, but if you shut out discussion that’s just a self-fulfilling prophecy as opposed to a legitimate sentiment. If the scene turns out to be more than you bargained for or doesn’t elicit the feelings you had hoped, talk to them about dialing it back to a scene that’s only about direct enjoyment; letting the experience ruin your dynamic with that person can undermine your ability to trust new Doms. If you begin negotiating scenes like this, keep in mind that if a Dom is unwilling to sacrifice their enjoyment to help you recover after a bad scene, you shouldn’t be sacrificing your enjoyment to sate their sadism.