Benign Masochism


This weekend, we attended Shay Tiziano’s virtual class “Stand Back—I’m Going to Try Science!” as part of Ropecraft’s Homebound conference. Shay is one of our BDSM heroes and loves to geek out on the science of kink.

One of the most interesting tidbits in this class was related to benign masochism. This refers to experiences that our brains perceive as negative at first, but that we come to enjoy once we realize they pose no real danger. Examples include eating spicy food, riding rollercoasters, and watching horror movies.

It may come as no surprise that many kinky people derive more pleasure out of such activities than vanilla people. Shay even did a poll in the class asking participants to rate their enjoyment of beer, unsweetened coffee, thrill rides, sad movies, massage pain, squeezing pimples, spicy food, and a few other things. At the end of the class, she showed how our results compared with the population at large, and we kinky folk liked all of these things way more. This was true for me as well, even though I don’t really consider myself to be a masochist when it comes to BDSM.

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