Women who act as ‘submissive’ during the sex act BDSM are less empathetic to other people’s suffering.Females who enjoy being tied to the bed or whipped during sex are less moved when they see others in pain and even find it arousing, according to a study.
Experts believe BDSM – bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism – makes people less empathetic to others’ emotions due to them being desensitized to pain.
Previous research suggests people who take part in sex fetishes score better on psychological and personality tests due to them being more extroverted and open to new experiences, as well as less neurotic.
Researchers analysed a BDSM web forum and found that female submissives are less likely to feel empathy towards others than female dominants or any males who take part in sex fetishes.
Results suggest women who enjoy submission find the pained facial expressions of others less upsetting than controls.
When viewed in a BDSM context, they even find such expressions arousing.
BDSM submissives also have less changes to their brain activity when viewing pained or neutral expressions, particularly in the N1 frontal lobe.
Previous research suggests the N1 lobe is involved in registering threatening information. BDSM submissives may therefore see pained expressions as less of a threat due to them being willing to be in discomfort themselves during sex.
Submissives also have reduced activity in their P2 frontal lobes, which are associated with pain and the processing of emotions. This suggests submissives feel less empathy.
When they were also asked how they relate to people day-to-day, many submissives answered ‘I find it difficult to see things from the other guy’s point of view’.
This comes after previous research which found that BDSM followers are less neurotic, feel less rejection and worry less about what others think of them than those who do not take part in sexual fetishes.
They even report being happier and more secure in their relationships.
Interestingly, the role a person plays when engaging in BDSMbehaviour seems to be linked to a person’s psychological profile.
Dominants tend to be the most balanced, submissivesthe least and switches (who enjoy both dominating and being dominated) are in between.