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From de Sade to the Dark Triad: SM in Shades of Gray

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Presentation on theme: "From de Sade to the Dark Triad: SM in Shades of Gray"— Presentation transcript:

1 From de Sade to the Dark Triad: SM in Shades of Gray
James Ambler, Kathryn Klement, Sarah Hanson, David Wietting, Ellen Lee, Evelyn Comber, & Brad Sagarin


3 Motivations for Sadism

4 Motivations for Sadism
top master sadist dominant Motivations for Masochism slave bottom masochist submissive

5 The Dark Triad Paulhus & Williams (2002)

6 The Dark Triad Psychopathy: personality disorder centered on callousness and unemotionality Narcissism: grandiose sense of self-importance, sense of superiority, lack of empathy Machiavellianism: tendency to manipulate and exploit others Chabrol, Van Leeuwen, Rodgers, & Sejourne (2009)

7 The Dark Tetrad? Sadism: a pattern of cruelty, aggression and demeaning behavior “I would enjoy hurting someone, physically, sexually or emotionally” “I have fantasies which involve hurting people” “I have humiliated others to keep them in line” “Sometimes I get so angry I want to hurt people” Chabrol, Van Leeuwen, Rodgers, & Sejourne (2009)

8 Pathological sadism Consensual sadism

9 Pathological sadism Consensual sadism

10 Diagnostic Criteria: DSM vs ICD
DSM-IV-TR: Sexual Sadism Over a period of 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving acts (real, not simulated) in which the psychological or physical suffering (including humiliation) of the victim is sexually exciting to the person. The person has acted on these sexual urges with a non-consenting person, or the sexual urges or fantasies or interpersonal difficulty.

11 Diagnostic Criteria: DSM vs ICD
ICD-10: Sadomasochism A preference for sexual activity that involves bondage or the infliction of pain or humiliation. If the individual prefers to be the recipient of such stimulation this is called masochism; if the provider, sadism. Often an individual obtains sexual excitement from both sadistic and masochistic activities. Mild degrees of sadomasochistic stimulation are commonly used to enhance otherwise normal sexual activity. This category should be used only if sadomasochistic activity is the most important source of stimulation or necessary for sexual gratification. Sexual sadism is sometimes difficult to distinguish from cruelty in sexual situations or anger unrelated to eroticism. Where violence is necessary for erotic arousal, the diagnosis can be clearly established. Includes: Masochism, sadism.

12 DSM vs. ICD Separates sadism from masochism
Assumes all sadism is pathological Does not separate clearly sexually sadistic behavior from cruel behavior Combines sadomasochism Allows for consensual SM play Distinguishes sexual sadism from cruelty in sexual contexts

13 Sexual Motivation in Violent Acts
Difference between sexually-motivated acts and brutal violent acts in a sexual context Example: Piquerism & Jack the Ripper

14 de Sade’s Degeneration Hypothesis
Offenders with deviant fantasies commit increasingly violent crimes “Devolving” Case study: Ted Bundy

15 Sexual Fantasies More likely to have explicit-visual sexual imagery
Men Women More likely to have explicit-visual sexual imagery 21% reported fantasies about being sexually overpowered (Sue, 1979) 24% reported fantasy of forcing someone to have sex (Sue, 1979) More likely to have emotional-romantic imagery 51% reported fantasies about being sexually dominated (Pelletier & Herold, 1988) 16% reported fantasy of forcing someone to have sex (Sue, 1979) Leitenberg & Henning (1995)

16 Attraction to Power Exchange
Josifkova & Flegr (2008)

17 Male and Female Preferences
Josifkova & Flegr (2008)

18 Biology & Hormones Testosterone Luteinizing hormone
High levels of testosterone may be associated with dominance or sadism Luteinizing hormone LH stimulates testosterone production in testes Some studies show a positive correlation between LH and indexed offense violence

19 Pathological sadism Consensual sadism

20 Pathological sadism Consensual sadism

21 Consensual sadism Empathy Self-Regulation Social Norms Social Bonds
Pathological sadism Consensual sadism Empathy Self-Regulation Social Norms Social Bonds Anticipated Guilt Rationality

22 Benefits to the self Self-control Self-efficacy Self-esteem
But it does not compensate for low self-esteem Damon (2002)

23 Flow The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one. Csikszentimihályi (1991)


25 Conditions Under Which Flow Happens
Engagement in activity chosen for it’s own sake (not necessary but a facilitative condition) Perceived challenges are high while skill level is also high Clear goals that are regarded important Immediate feedback indicating success at task Highly focused attention

26 Characteristics of Flow State
Intense concentration on task Deep sense of involvement and merging of action and awareness Sense of control over one’s actions Enjoyment in activity Distorted sense of time

27 Masochism Why pain? Transient Hypofrontality Escape from Self

28 Consciousness as a Process

29 Limited Resources “The human brain has limited resources”
“A minimum level of intensity is required to force the redistribution of resources in the brain.” On a continuum Focus can force redistribution Meditation Structures are prioritized as needed Dietrich (2003)

30 Transient Hypofrontality Hypothesis
Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DL):   Important for directed attention, temporal integration, and working memory Working memory deficits cause: Less abstract thinking Less access to memory Less self-reflective consciousness Less cognitive flexibility These lead to subjective changes in consciousness Dietrich (2003)

31 Transient Hypofrontality Hypothesis
Common experiences of altered states of consciousness: time distortions disinhibition from social constraints  changes in focused attention Transient Hypofrontality States -Runner’s High  -Meditation  -Dreaming  -Day dreaming  -Hypnosis  -Various Drug Highs Specific variations: reduction of pain feelings of floating feelings of peacefulness little consistent logic difficulty with memory feeling of living in the here and now little active decision making Dietrich (2003)

32 Subspace Flying Floating The wave The forever place

33 Subspace “With my girl, she was punishing me, and I felt a deep sense of pain and pleasure, sort of a one with nature and my environment, it was incredible.” “It’s very dreamlike. I knew that I felt good, and I was aware of my partner, but I was not paying attention to anything else.” “I felt intense pleasure and pain, I almost felt like I was flying and for a moment I thought I would pass out. I felt like I was separating from my own body.” “An almost trance like state. Pain didn’t exist in any form.” “While bottoming with my partner, I was able to let go to the point of losing touch with reality while my partner spanked me.” “While being dominated I stepped back inside myself. After getting the rush from playing I lost track of what was going on, nothing seemed to affect me while I was down inside myself.”

34 The self is sometimes burdensome
Escape from the Self The self is sometimes burdensome "The greater the demands in my outside life, the likelier I am to feel submissive sexually." Baumeister (1988) Wiseman (1996)

35 Escape from the Self Baumeister (1988) Vallacher & Wegner (1987, 1989)
“Pain gradually obliterates psychological content, eventually leaving only the awareness of pain. One’s knowledge of the world is temporarily forgotten, and attention is narrowed to the immediate present, both spatially and temporally.” (Scarry, 1985) Pain, interrupted action and failure feedback focus people’s attention BDSM play Pain Bondage Humiliation Sex as a reinforcer Baumeister (1988) Vallacher & Wegner (1987, 1989)

36 A common neurobiology for pain and pleasure
In the pain field there is a growing recognition that the subjective interpretation or meaning of pain determines the amount of pain-related suffering The brain creates experience, we don’t have unedited access to what happens to us Meaning changes the hedonic experience of pain Root canals suck Slapped in a scene vs. slapped in an argument Leknes & Tracey (2008)

37 A common neurobiology for pain and pleasure
Evidence of pleasure-related analgesia has been reported in human and animal studies; pain is decreased by: pleasant odors images music palatable food sexual behavior perceived control meaning of the pain Leknes & Tracey (2008)

38 Masochism The brain addresses intense physical and mental demands by prioritizing resources; lack of resources to certain areas result in altered states of consciousness Pain, challenge and failure feedback all push people into the here and now The subjective suffering an individual experiences depends on context and interpretation, not the actual stimulation occurring

39 Why Practice Sadomasochism?

40 The deployment of sexuality is always changing and is ‘concerned with the sensations of the body, the quality of pleasures and the nature of impressions [that] the body produces and consumes.’ Michel Foucault (1978)


42 Psychological Relatedness
Competence Autonomy Psychological Relatedness Self Determination Theory Deci and Ryan (1985)


44 Motivations for Sadism
Self-control Self-efficacy Flow

45 Motivations for Masochism
Altered states of consciousness Escape from self Self-control Self-efficacy Flow

46 Motivations for Sadomasochism
Sexual arousal Power exchange Autonomy, competence, relatedness Community Altered states of consciousness Escape from self Self-control Self-efficacy Flow

47 For more information:

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