How kinky sex can make you more creative

How kinky sex can make you more creative

SexDecember 22, 2016 By Lindsey Kline

Want to get your creative juices flowing? Try lighting some candles, zipping into an all-latex bodysuit, and lashing your gimp with a leather whip. Sexual sadism may be just the spark of inspiration you need.

While some still think of BDSM as a disturbing performance, it seems the public tide is turning on the practice. Just this past year, attendance at BDSM events grew, membership in kink communities (ie. Fetlife) doubled, and internet search terms like 'master, sex slave, and sadism' spiked 90 percent.

Now those who secretly yearn to recreate their favorite scene from 50 Shades of Grey have one more reason to do so. A new study from the Science of BDSM research group at Northern Illinois University indicates that BDSM can boost your creativity.

The study’s researchers recruited a small sample of BDSM fetishists through Fetlife and asked them to recreate a typical BDSM session. Whether participants were assigned the top role (providing stimulation and giving orders) or in the bottom role (receiving stimulation and following orders), they each achieved elevated levels of mindfulness associated with runner's high, daydreaming and meditation.

After each BDSM session, researchers found that dominant partners were able to achieve “optimal flow”: a captivating, creative state of mind often sought by writers, artists and musicians. They also felt that domination gave them a heightened sense of control and concentration. They agreed with statements like, “I felt in total control of what I was doing” and “I was completely focused on the task at hand.”

They also found that submissive partners experienced “transient hypofrontality,” an altered state of consciousness that can be perceived as anything from a distortion of time, a lack of self-consciousness, peacefulness, or the experience of being in the here and now.

After each encounter, both tops and bottoms reported lower stress, better mood and pleasant “states of flow.” This isn’t surprising to BDSM fetishists. Those in the BDSM community often talk about being achieving a “state of flow.”

Brad Sagarin, professor of psychology and lead author of the Northern Illinois University study, describes this flow as “the idea that the rest of the world drops away and someone is completely focused on what they’re doing.”

Both dominant and submissive roles have attested that the intense sensations of BDSM force a fixation on the here and now. This novel level of concentration can be accessed through a variety of kinky practices, but a popular example is rope-tying. The BDSM adage is that bondage breaks the mind away from daily duties and distractions. Ironically, it seems the restriction of movement offers a sense of escape.

Christy, an NGO international relations expert who doubles as a dominatrix, explained to New York Magazine how being intricately tied up with rope helps her achieve flow. “I do a lot of yoga and meditation. And I think rope can have the same effect. When you’re tied up it’s like you’re not responsible for anything else that happens and there’s a sense of freedom in that. It’s one of the few moments where I don’t have to worry about all of my responsibilities.”

Reduced anxiety and alleviated stress are both tied to the act of literally being tied up. But the mental benefits of being whipped and bound are extremely new developments in the psychiatric community.

Sigmund Freud, the coked-up father of psychoanalysis, famously classified BDSM as a “disease” and “the most significant of all perversions.” Other researchers went even further, linking masochism to cannibalism, vampirism, mass murder, and necrophilia. BDSM fetishists were heavily stigmatized to the extent that they risked losing custody of their children if a spouse told a therapist about their “disorder.”

BDSM behavior was considered a mental illness in the eyes of American Psychiatric Association until only a few years ago. The APA finally re-defined the fetishism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 2013, distinguishing between behavior (like playing rough) and disease.

The new classification was a tremendous victory for the kink community. Its members have long sought to change the misconception that sexual experimentation is a form of perversion. Quite the contrary, these new studies reveal that BDSM fetishists may even be mentally healthier than their vanilla-sex counterparts. Perhaps those who still oppose that the sexual creativity of BDSM can translate into music, writing, and art, just need to have some consensual sense beat into them.