Self Injury and S&M (Possible Trigger?)

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Self Injury and S&M (Possible Trigger?)

- Kira - - Kira -
I was reading through this post about the relation of self injury to BDSM and thought of something. Well, it's actually something I've been debating in my head for a while now. Decided I'd throw it out there and see if anyone else agreed/disagreed.

So my deal is that I consider masochism to be part of who I am. I can remember sticking pins in my fingers before I was 10 and trying to see how far I could go. As I got older, I did begin to self injure, though I never really fully understood why it was. Because I was going through mental problems at the time, I was told that the reason was to numb out pain or to make my internal pain visible. This never felt like the real answer to me, but I sort of went with it because a bunch of doctors can't be wrong, right?

Here's my thoughts now, as an adult who enjoys pain as part of sex. While I never had an orgasm during self injuring, I wonder if it's not possible that this wasn't so much me acting out my depression as it was acting out my masochistic tendencies. I never shut down when I did it, it made me feel more alive. That doesn't seem to go along with how most people describe self injury. I stopped doing it once I was able to learn how to communicate my need for pain to partners, who then provided the needed pain for me. I seek out pain no matter what my mental state is, meaning I don't need to be depressed to enjoy it.

My question is two-fold. 1) has anyone else on the masochistic side experienced anything similar and 2) does this line of thinking make sense or am I just nuts?

Much thanks to anyone willing to share stories, as I know this can be a tough topic to discuss.
07/27/2012
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MissMori MissMori
Thanks for such a long personal intro to this topic, since it can be a really charged one for some people.
I might not fit into what you're describing, since I've never identified as a self-injurer or a masochist. That said, things I've done in the past and things I do now might look like self-harm or masochism to others, so I should give details!
As a really young kid I did a lot of similar things - I also stuck needles in my fingers, and would put my hand over a candle flame and see how long I could keep it there.
When I was a teenager (starting at about 12 or so) I would get really into playing "blood sisters" with other girls. There was cutting involved, but for me it wasn't a "cry for help" or whatever shrinks might like to say, but an early sexual exploration. It felt really good and really intense. When I was 18 I met my first serious partner, who was also my first serious D/s relationship. There was cutting involved there, too, but again it was a positive, enjoyable thing I wanted.
Also, I really enjoy the feeling of getting tattoos and piercings.
As for now, I don't have any cutting/piercing going on in my sexual life, but love impact and hair-pulling, biting and scratching. I don't identify as masochistic since pain is not a big part of it. I do get pushed to the point of pain, but it takes quite a bit to get there and I seem to have a really fast endorphin response so it's more the floaty high feeling. Okay, now that I've written that out I see it might be more masochism than I'm willing to label as such (if that makes sense).
My point is, if I got caught at certain times when I was younger I'd almost certainly have been labeled a self-harmer, but since I wasn't it never came up and I never thought of it as such.
It sounds to me like if you were allowed to explore this side of yourself without doctors trying to pathologise it you'd have come to the conclusion you seem to be getting at here - it's just a part of who you are and you need the entire range of expression to be happy.
I think a lot of non-standard people can get depressed while they're figuring out who they are because it does deviate from the script we're handed by society (I include gay youth in this too, I seem to remember reading that they have higher depression rates). It's hard to be a teenager anyway, and when the thing that makes you feel good and happy is treated as wrong it can cause confusion and really shake your self-image.
So, for self-harmers who end up being into BDSM, maybe the harm isn't a symptom of depression but rather the depression is caused by living in a world that doesn't recognize your needs as healthy and natural.
07/27/2012
Mitzuki Mitzuki
Makes perfect sense to me. I've never really known how to explain this to other people.
07/27/2012
Yaoi Pervette (deleted) Yaoi Pervette (deleted)
I think I have always had masochistic tendencies. When I was a kid, I used to pull out my own loose teeth. As a teen, I used to stick myself with pins and burn myself. As an adult, I really enjoyed getting a tattoo. I can't really say that I intentionally subjected myself to physical pain due to inability to properly deal with emotional pain. I have no trouble crying it out when I am upset. Though I find physical pain strangely cathartic, it probably has much more to do with masochism than the textbook reasons for self injury.
07/27/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by MissMori
Thanks for such a long personal intro to this topic, since it can be a really charged one for some people.
I might not fit into what you're describing, since I've never identified as a self-injurer or a masochist. That said, things ...
You sound so much like me! I forgot to mention the tattoos and piercings, but getting those is wonderful for me. I always get grumpy with my friends who take pain meds before they go. Isn't the pain the whole experience??

I get the same floaty high feeling. It takes a lot to bring me to a point of "oh ow that hurts," but I say I like "pain" because I guess that would make more sense to other people? Maybe "I like things that would cause others pain" is a better way to describe it. Sometimes I'll get to where it hurts, and then work through it and it feels good all over again. So I dunno, I suppose masochistic is the word for that. I don't know a better one. lol

So, for self-harmers who end up being into BDSM, maybe the harm isn't a symptom of depression but rather the depression is caused by living in a world that doesn't recognize your needs as healthy and natural.

Yeah, that makes sense. I have depression issues for other reasons as well, but I know as a teenager feeling like I wanted things that others coiled up against didn't help my issues at all.
07/27/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by Yaoi Pervette (deleted)
I think I have always had masochistic tendencies. When I was a kid, I used to pull out my own loose teeth. As a teen, I used to stick myself with pins and burn myself. As an adult, I really enjoyed getting a tattoo. I can't really say that I ...
I have no trouble crying it out when I am upset.

Yeah, that's how I feel too. I also find pain cathartic, but I don't go to it when I'm depressed. I'm not sure how to properly articulate why or how it's cathartic, but I know I always feel much better after pain play no matter if I was depressed or happy before I started.
07/27/2012
MissMori MissMori
Well, damn, this thread is totally going to out me as a masochist!
Seriously, I'm not sure why I don't identify as one. But yeah, like you said it does take quite a bit to get me to the actual pain point, and then after that it feels even better, so that may be the best term. I know it's not like that for a lot of people . . . .
07/27/2012
Princessfi Princessfi
Quote:
Originally posted by Mitzuki
Makes perfect sense to me. I've never really known how to explain this to other people.
Agreed.
07/28/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by MissMori
Well, damn, this thread is totally going to out me as a masochist!
Seriously, I'm not sure why I don't identify as one. But yeah, like you said it does take quite a bit to get me to the actual pain point, and then after that it feels ...
Hm. Maybe I've been using the wrong word then? I guess it depends on if you define masochistic as liking the parts that really hurt the most or if you define it as liking things that would normally cause pain to most people. I've always gone with the second option, but maybe I'm defining it wrong. I more use "pain slut" in terms of people that like when it hurts in the bad way instead of the good way. Always so many terms and different ways to look at them.
07/28/2012
MissMori MissMori
Quote:
Originally posted by - Kira -
Hm. Maybe I've been using the wrong word then? I guess it depends on if you define masochistic as liking the parts that really hurt the most or if you define it as liking things that would normally cause pain to most people. I've always ...
No, I don't mean that it's the wrong word - like you say it can be looked at different ways.
Actually, since this discussion has been going on I'd be curious to hear from anyone who identifies as a masochist specifically because they like the pain parts, as opposed to liking things that other people consider painful, with the main enjoyment coming from the amazing endorphin rush caused by such things. (bit off topic, sorry!)
I think my main reason from shying away from it is that I do need a certain amount of handling. I've been with people who just really want to use the heaviest implement they can get as hard and fast as possible right away, and I don't like that since I need to build up in intensity. I guess calling myself masochistic would sound too much like an invitation! On the other hand, I'm better at choosing partners these days.
07/28/2012
solitudinarian solitudinarian
I had some mental issues as a teenager, due to living conditions, poor body image and feeling abnormal because of my kinky interests. I saw a psychologist for about 3 years. She was kink positive, for the most part. I never really understood why she seemed to believe that having someone inflict pain on you is generally ok (if it's consensual and not too "extreme"), but inflicting it upon yourself is always bad. I never had an orgasm during self-injuring, but I frequently masturbated afterwards. I think it had less to do with depression than everyone seemed to believe. I too was confused about why, and had no trouble crying when I wanted to.

On some level I need pain, regardless of my mental state. Even when I'm "healthy", I get agitated if I go without it for too long. I have found someone who like hurting me, so I don't really need to hurt myself anymore.

So, for self-harmers who end up being into BDSM, maybe the harm isn't a symptom of depression but rather the depression is caused by living in a world that doesn't recognize your needs as healthy and natural.

This makes a lot of sense for me too.
07/28/2012
Zandrock Zandrock
I am a masochist and never self harmed. I enjoy pain, but I do not enjoy giving myself pain, only receiving pain from another person
07/28/2012
Synthete Synthete
Interesting that you bring this up, it does seem like it's a trend. I just watched Secretary, and the idea of S&M replacing self-injury comes up in the movie so it's something I've been thinking about lately too.

I'll chime in as someone who's had a very similar experience - When I did self-injure, I saw it as a release, much like the way I see pain and sex now. I never saw it as a cry for help or any of the classic descriptions of self-injury, it was simply a physical feeling I enjoyed and used to de-stress. Receiving pain from my partner is much more intense and enjoyable than causing it to myself ever was, because of the trust between us and the idea of putting myself under someone else's control, but I think it's likely that my enjoyment of the physical pain alone stems from the same place.
07/28/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by MissMori
No, I don't mean that it's the wrong word - like you say it can be looked at different ways.
Actually, since this discussion has been going on I'd be curious to hear from anyone who identifies as a masochist specifically because they ...
I'd like to hear from someone who enjoys the ouchie parts, too, not just the high flying rush parts.

I've always had the opposite issue. lol I usually had more submissive guys attracted to me who were scared to really do anything. Usually a light slap was the most any could handle. If I was single, I wouldn't go around saying "oh, I'm masochistic" because I can see that attracting people who play harder than I'd like.
07/28/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by solitudinarian
I had some mental issues as a teenager, due to living conditions, poor body image and feeling abnormal because of my kinky interests. I saw a psychologist for about 3 years. She was kink positive, for the most part. I never really understood why she ...
I never understood that either. I've had a few people (not therapists, I don't discuss kinks with them lest they commit me or something) tell me that me enjoying pain from a partner was cool, but self inflicted pain was not. Huh? Is the difference that distinct? No one could ever explain why one was okay and the other wasn't. Bleh.
07/28/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by Synthete
Interesting that you bring this up, it does seem like it's a trend. I just watched Secretary, and the idea of S&M replacing self-injury comes up in the movie so it's something I've been thinking about lately too.

I'll chime ...
I totally forgot about that part of Secretary. I haven't seen that movie in ages.

I find inflicted pain much better as well, since there's a control element I can't provide on my own.
07/28/2012
Yaoi Pervette (deleted) Yaoi Pervette (deleted)
Quote:
Originally posted by - Kira -
I'd like to hear from someone who enjoys the ouchie parts, too, not just the high flying rush parts.

I've always had the opposite issue. lol I usually had more submissive guys attracted to me who were scared to really do anything. ...
I can't say I really get a good endorphin high from pain, so it really is the "ouchie" parts that I like. It reminds me of that John Mellencamp song, "Hurts So Good". I pretty much stick by what I said last night. I don't know if there is anything I can add unless someone has a question for me.
07/28/2012
Yaoi Pervette (deleted) Yaoi Pervette (deleted)
Quote:
Originally posted by - Kira -
I never understood that either. I've had a few people (not therapists, I don't discuss kinks with them lest they commit me or something) tell me that me enjoying pain from a partner was cool, but self inflicted pain was not. Huh? Is the ...
I think therapists tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to self-inflicted pain. It is safer to assume depression or suicidality in patients who self-injure than risk dismissing such injuries as an extension of masochistic tendencies and wind up with the patients seriously injuring or killing themselves.
07/28/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by Yaoi Pervette (deleted)
I think therapists tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to self-inflicted pain. It is safer to assume depression or suicidality in patients who self-injure than risk dismissing such injuries as an extension of masochistic tendencies and ...
Yeah, that makes sense. I think there are many though that wouldn't be willing to say any self injury would be an extension of masochistic tendencies. Some see things a bit too black and white, in my experience. Either it's all good or all bad with no in between. So I think that may be some of it, too.
07/28/2012
MissMori MissMori
Quote:
Originally posted by Yaoi Pervette (deleted)
I can't say I really get a good endorphin high from pain, so it really is the "ouchie" parts that I like. It reminds me of that John Mellencamp song, "Hurts So Good". I pretty much stick by what I said last night. I ...
No specific questions, I was just curious if anyone was into the pain itself rather than the endorphin high it can cause.
I find the variation in people fascinating, so that was really it. Thanks for sharing!
07/28/2012
Total posts: 20
Unique posters: 8