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Theories and Data: Measurable Changes in Body and Mind during SM

Theories and Data: Measurable Changes in Body and Mind during SM

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Theories and Data: Measurable Changes in Body and Mind during SM

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  1. Theories and Data: Measurable Changes in Body and Mind during SM Ellen Lee James Ambler Northern Illinois University

  2. Goals and Overview • Academic views of SM • Our data collection and results • Theories • Future directions • Questions! • Bridge Academia and SM • Share findings • Inform future directions

  3. Historical Perspective • Sadism is pathological in nature • Masochism is inwardly directed Sadism • -Thus, all SM activities are the behaviors of damaged individuals

  4. Historical Perspective • Sadism is pathological in nature • Masochism is inwardly directed Sadism • -Thus, all SM activities are the behaviors of damaged individuals PathologicalSM ConsensualSM

  5. Connolly’s (2006): Psychological Functioning of BDSM Practitioners • 132 respondents • 56 women, 73 men, 3 transgendered individuals • Ages 25-74 • Recruited in Southern California via e-mail through BDSM clubs and organizations

  6. Connolly’s (2006): Psychological Functioning of BDSM Practitioners • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2, 567 items) • Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III, 175 items) • Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI, 100 items) • Postraumatic Stress Disorder Scale (PDS, 49 items) • Multiscale Dissociation Inventory (MDI, 30 items) • Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II, 21 items) • Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI, 21 items)

  7. Psychoanalytic theorizing Depression Anxiety Obsessive-compulsion PTSD Dissociation Psychological sadism Psychological masochism Narcissism Borderline pathology Paranoia

  8. BDSM practitioners vs. normative samples Out of body experiences Missing one’s freeway exit because one’s mind is elsewhere Ego self-involvement

  9. Damon 2002 • Prediction: • Dominant men would have lower self-esteem than submissive men • Dominant men would have higher rates of sexism than submissive men • Findings: • Dominant men displayed higher self-esteem than submissive men • Dominant men had lower rates of sexism than submissive men

  10. PathologicalSM ConsensualSM

  11. PathologicalSM ConsensualSM

  12. ConsensualSM PathologicalSM Empathy Self-Regulation Social Norms Social Bonds Anticipated Guilt Rationality

  13. Hypothesis Testing • Hypothesis testing is used to determine the likelihood of there being group differences • A p value represents the chance, given that the null hypothesis is true, that you would obtain these results or results more extreme • For example, a p = .03 means that 3% of the time, when there are no group differences, we would obtain these results or results more extreme • Another way of looking at this, when there are no group differences, 97% of the time we wouldn’t obtain results this extreme • In psychology, we use a 5% cut-off (p = .05); this number is arbitrary but represents what we consider to be acceptable risk

  14. Correlation Coefficient • The relationship between two standard variables • They range from -1 to +1 -1=negative relationship 0=no relationship +1=positive relationship • Indicates a strength of a relationship (larger number indicates stronger relationship) • Just because there is a correlation between two variables does not mean that one causes the other • For example, the positive relationship between shark attacks and ice cream sales

  15. Types of Correlations Perfect positive correlation (+1.00) Perfect negative correlation (-1.00) No relationship (0.00)

  16. Thunder in the Mountains • Hormonal changes before, during, and after scenes • Testosterone • Cortisol • Relationship closeness • Scene success

  17. Testosterone Sagarin et al. (2009)

  18. Cortisol Sagarin et al. (2009)

  19. Relationship closeness Sagarin et al. (2009)

  20. Southwest Leather Conference • SM without sex?

  21. Materials • Surveys (before, during, after) • PANAS • Self/Other Overlap • We Relationship • Open-ended questions • Why participate • Expectations of Dance • Saliva Samples • Behavioral observations

  22. Participant Demographics • Gender • Males: 20, Females: 26, Transgender: 3 • Sexual Orientation • Straight: 15, Gay: 8, Heteroflexible: 9, Bisexual: 9, Other: 8 • BDSM Roles • Top: 18, Bottom: 16, Switch: 14 • Age • Mean: 49 years old, SD: 10.34 years • Range: 23-71 years old

  23. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

  24. Sexual Orientation and BDSM Roles

  25. Sexual vs. SM Extremely p =.09 Not at all

  26. Sexual vs. SM vs. Spiritual Extremely p =.01 Not at all

  27. Correlations – Sexual, SM, Spiritual • Spiritual • And pre self/other overlap = .527 (p = .01) • And during self/other overlap = .423 ( p = .007) • Sexual • And pre sexual arousal = .487 (p = .016) • And during sexual arousal = .758 (p = .001) • SM • And pre sexual arousal = .647 (p = .001) • And during sexual arousal = .342 (p = .031)

  28. Sexual Arousal Extremely p <.001 Not at all

  29. Self/Other Overlap, Relationship with Others p = .85 p = .005

  30. PANAS Extremely p = .175 p = .014 Not at all

  31. Stressed Extremely p = .14 Not at all

  32. Cortisol p = .064

  33. SM Role x Sexual p = .036 p = .046

  34. SM Role x Spiritual p = .057 p = .031

  35. Pre-Dance Qualitative Data • Why are you participating in the Dance of Souls? What do you hope to get from the experience? • “It is a wonderful way to exchange energy not just with my owner but with my tribe. It is transcendental & amazing. It is also a great way to release the negative.” • “I find peace, power, and well-being at these events.” • “To participate in high energetic levels and feel the transformation that can occur in myself and others.” • “I have had visions and deep spiritual experiences. Or not. But it's fun anyway.”

  36. During-Dance Qualitative Data • Any current thoughts or feelings during the Dance • “I am in an amazing happy place. Serene yet joyous.” • “Connection through the drums and the tribe and the shared energy that overrides any pain and opens my heart and mind to a focus beyond the physical.” • “Just very high!!!” • “Pleasantly exhausted” • “I'm very happy and aroused. I feel strong and beautiful.”

  37. Post-Dance Qualitative Data • Please write down any thoughts or feelings: • “All throughout the dance, I felt very present and connected with everyone else there, but also recognized the work I was doing was my own work and needed my attention. I also felt closer to the spirits of those who have walked this earth before us and the Universe's energy abuzz inside me. It was beautiful and powerful.” • “Observed energetic releases of others, saw emotions stir in many; tears, anger, screaming, laughter, pure joy. Many had variety of different experiences. I got to share in all of them, and feel their release.”

  38. Major Conclusions • Mainly spiritual, less sexual or SM • Increase in connectedness to others • Reduction in negative affect • Higher body stress response, but reported reduction in psychological stress

  39. Why? • Community • Intimate relationships • Subjectively enjoyable • Altered States • Domspace • Subspace

  40. Flow

  41. Conditions Under Which Flow Happens • Engagement in activity chosen for its own sake (not necessary but a facilitative condition) • Perceived challenges are high while skill level is also high • Clear goals that are regarded important • Immediate feedback indicating success at task • Highly focused attention

  42. Characteristics of Flow State • Intense concentration on task • Deep sense of involvement and merging of action and awareness • Sense of control over one’s actions • Enjoyment in activity • Distorted sense of time

  43. Subspace “With my girl, she was punishing me, and I felt a deep sense of pain and pleasure, sort of a one with nature and my environment, it was incredible.” “It’s very dreamlike. I knew that I felt good, and I was aware of my partner, but I was not paying attention to anything else.” “I felt intense pleasure and pain, I almost felt like I was flying and for a moment I thought I would pass out. I felt like I was separating from my own body.” “An almost trance like state. Pain didn’t exist in any form.” “While bottoming with my partner, I was able to let go to the point of losing touch with reality while my partner spanked me.” “While being dominated I stepped back inside myself. After getting the rush from playing I lost track of what was going on, nothing seemed to affect me while I was down inside myself.”

  44. Transient Hypofrontality Hypothesis • Subjective experience • time distortions • changes in focused attention • reduction of pain • feelings of floating • feelings of peacefulness • little consistent logic • difficulty with memory • feeling of living in the here and now • little active decision making Transient Hypofrontality States -Runner’s High  -Meditation  -Dreaming  -Day dreaming  -Hypnosis  -Various Drug Highs Dietrich (2003)

  45. Limited Resources • “The human brain has limited resources” • Specific structures receive more blood flow as other structures receive less blood flow • “A minimum level of intensity is required to force the redistribution of resources in the brain.” Dietrich (2003)

  46. Consciousness as a Process

  47. Transient Hypofrontality Hypothesis Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DL): • Important for directed attention, temporal integration, and working memory Working memory deficits cause: • Less abstract thinking • Less access to memory • Less self-reflective consciousness • Less cognitive flexibility • These lead to subjective changes in consciousness Dietrich (2003)