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Sex Study: BDSM Creates Altered States In The Brain

A new study has found that BDSM alters the brain’s chemistry and creates altered states of consciousness. The study was called “Consensual BDSM Facilitates Role-Specific Altered States of Consciousness: A Preliminary Study.”

Researchers recruited seven couples who practice consensual BDSM including couples in long-term relationships, polyamorous relationships, and one couple who met on the day of the study! (“Hi, nice to meet you! Spank the crap out of me and we’ll see what it does to our brains!”)

The research was published in the journal Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice. According to the findings, “Research has tested whether BDSM activities actually facilitate altered states. To this end, we randomly assigned 14 experienced BDSM practitioners to the bottom role (the person who is bound, receiving stimulation, or following orders) or the top role (the person providing stimulation, orders, or structure) for a BDSM scene. Results suggest that topping was associated with an altered state aligned with Csikszentmihalyi’s flow (measured with the Flow State Scale), and bottoming was associated with an altered state aligned with Dietrich’s transient hypofrontality (measured with a Stroop test) as well as some facets of flow. Additional results suggest that BDSM activities were associated with reductions in psychological stress and negative affect, and increases in sexual arousal.”

Brad Sagarin, a psychology professor at Northern Illinois University who worked on the study, says what happens is “the rest of the world drops away and you are completely focused on what you’re doing,” he told Time. The flow state is common with pro athletes, prolific novelists, musicians—anyone who loses themselves in an activity they’re extremely good at.”

An earlier study found “that bottoms had higher cortisol levels during their scenes, while tops did not. That’s somewhat expected—bottoms are usually experiencing pain, which should, accordingly, stress out their bodies and increase their levels of stress hormone. And after a mutually enjoyable encounter, both tops and bottoms showed decreased cortisol levels.”

So according to science, try a little BDSM and you’ll feel better.

 

 

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Anka Radakovich is a legendary Sex Columnist, Certified Sexologist, Sex Educator, Screenwriter, and Author of the book THE WILD GIRLS CLUB, PART 2, Tales from New York to Hollywood. THE WILD GIRLS CLUB, Part 2 is her third book. Her first two books, The Wild Girls Club; Tales from below the Belt, and Sexplorations; Journeys to the Erogenous Frontier were both published by Crown/Random House. She was the Sex Columnist for DETAILS Magazine for 9 years and currently writes columns for Brides.com and Los Angeles Magazine. Her writing has appeared in dozens of magazines including Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Men's Journal, Seventeen, Glamour, and Maxim. She has appeared on numerous television shows including 8 appearances with Conan O’Brien. She was a Jeopardy question under the category “Men’s Mags.” As a Sex Educator and Sexologist, she is a college lecturer at Universities throughout the country who offers her unique brand of sex education. Follow her on Twitter @ankarad.

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