30 March, 2008

Ambiguity and Mental Health

The Chicken/egg question, eluded to in my last post: Does BDSM affect my (passive) psyche, or is it my psyche doing the heavy lifting? Also, the unimportance of "why?" redux.

  • How has BDSM affected your emotional/psychological life?

BDSM administers to my life a primal tension and frisson that our technically sanitized and morally confused civil society actively mitigates against. It is a modern virtue to compact human emotional and physical experience into a narrow range; we sweep the natural exuberance of children, the catharsis of grief and even vague senses of ennui under the equalizing broom of serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, and carve our empathy and our bodies to fit a perfect composite image that is called “normal” or “beautiful.” In all our potentials we are aggressively herded toward the vast, gray and amorphous middle, surrendering what Gerard Manley Hopkins celebrated in his poem Pied Beauty as “all things spare, original and strange.”

Not long ago I read an AP wire report in the Bennington Banner (VT) of the phenomenon of teenagers playing very dangerous games, including mutual strangulation and surfing atop fast moving vehicles. Of course, the therapeutic classes are all atwitter about such goings-on, but I myself am unsurprised. The more adults take pains to smooth the bumps out of their childrens’ teen years, the clearer and bolder said teens will be in their expression of their new found erotic, emotional and intellectual vitality, which often emerges as pure Dionysian energy (i.e., chaotic, fecund, bloody, destructive, creative, etc.). Where our culture emphasizes safety and deadening of deep feeling, the first hormonal blush of adulthood demands immersion in life (and all that entails) immediately and at full throttle (so to speak).

BDSM reintroduces color to human relations in bold and sometimes grizzly defiance of puritanical mores and its culture of just saying “no.” It is resolutely politically incorrect. It is patently ridiculous and even comic with no obvious biological or social imperatives. It is utterly inscrutable. To the unambivalent it is harmless but hurts like birth. To the ambivalent it offers clarity. It can bring out the complete truth of who its practitioners really are. It has all of the right enemies.

  • Do you feel BDSM relationships last longer or shorter than non-BDSM relationships? Why?
I think people endure or not in relationships as a function of their will to become known to their partners, irrespective of BDSM. BDSM offers all of the conveniences any other life pursuit for hiding from one’s self and from others, and as long as anyone in relation to another person keeps themselves secreted away, it’s fair to ask if there is any such thing as a relationship (in a serious sense of the word) going on. There are arbitrarily large numbers of ways in which people may loose themselves to passion, open and become vulnerable to getting exactly what their souls need (however that shows up), and thus truly be known by another. BDSM is about as efficacious in this respect as golf (but it may be faster acting).

No comments: