Bdsm pain

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The paper identifies how chronic pain is a disability and lays out the ways in which a cripistemology of chronic pain — and cripping chronic pain — is a productive exploration of pain. After exploring normative discourses of chronic pain through a crip lens, and identifying how pain is not meaningless, but instead imbued with multiple meanings, the paper presents some findings from a recent research project exploring the phenomenological experience of people living with chronic pain who engage in BDSM play.

Two dual narratives are identified: pain as a contagious fluid, requiring control of pain and the emotional expression of pain, and the uses of BDSM in that control. The paper offers a crip reading of these non-normative experiences. Chronic pain is a disability; while disabled people can experience chronic pain as a part—or result—of their disability, in terms of bodily formations, capacities, or un chosen adaptive approaches, others may experience chronic pain as a central aspect of their disability.

They may have a diagnosis of one of a host of conditions and syndromes, or may have an undocumented disability Mollow In addition, a strict binary separation of impairment and disability is not always useful, especially when taking a critical crip approach Kaferor exploring bodies and somatic sensation Morris ; Hughes and Patersonboth of which this paper does. Thus, there is need to consider chronic pain within disability studies, and particularly a queer-crip framework—one that does not rely on the impairment-disability binary, but bdsm pain space to engage with experiences of weakness, limitation and difficulty imposed on the self by the bodymind—and unchanged by experiences of access, social change, or acceptance.

Pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain IASP as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage" Merskey and Bogduk; it becomes defined as chronic once it lasts for a period of at least 12 weeks British Pain Society As far as dictionary-style bdsm pain go, these are not bad—pain is felt as somatic sensation, and felt as emotion, sometimes in ways that are inseparable to the feeling bodymind.

However, these definitions are also problematic; chronic pain can last for years, over lifetimes, and is experienced—felt—very differently bdsm pain short-term acute pain. It is not enough to consider chronic pain as the same as acute pain but felt over longer. While there is some acknowledgement from medicine that this is so, sociological or psychosocial studies of pain frequently do not make this distinction explicit enough; twelve weeks of pain is very different from twelve months, and different again from twelve years—and hence this is where cripistemologies of pain come in.

This paper forms part of a wider project which seeks to crip chronic pain, and to develop cripistemologies of chronic pain. The project explores the cripistemology of chronic pain; not just what chronic pain is and how normative discourses of pain shape our experiences of 'normal and 'abnormal' pain, but how chronic pain is felt, experienced, lived, and lived with—and how these experiences affect our knowledge of the lifeworld.

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Chronic pain impacts, and becomes a bdsm pain of, the phenomenological self, and thus living with chronic pain produces a particular cripistemology—the understanding of the world produced and narrated by those living with chronic pain is forever coloured by chronic pain. Cripistemologies situate disabled people as alternative experts, as producers of a particular kind of knowledge Mitchell, Snyder, and Ware ; Johnson and McRuer ; cripistemological knowledge about chronic pain can therefore only be produced by chronically pained people.

This presents a challenge to other knowledge and understandings of chronic pain, which are rooted in discursive constructions of pain, and in medicalised understandings, and as such this paper seeks to challenge and present alternative understandings, while also acknowledging the messy multiplicities of crip experiences and cripistemological knowledges.

Throughout this paper, I have used the term 'bodymind' rather than 'body and mind' because, as Price explains, a dualistic division of the physical and the mental is less than useful, especially when considering "because mental and physical processes not only affect each other but also give rise to each other—that is, because they tend to act as one …—it makes more sense to refer to them together, in a single term" I have combined bodymind with the conception of compulsory able-bodiedness McRuer to produce 'compulsory ablebodymindedness' Sheppard not just because the former maintains the false binary of body and mind, but because it also further maintains the divisions between 'physical,' 'mental,' and 'cognitive' disabilities that has plagued the social model of disability.

Ablebodymindedness emphasises that in order to be normal, a person must be read as lacking bdsm pain disability.

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It also carries with it the acknowledgement that the experience of being crip includes experience of mental and physical difference within the same person, which cannot always be fully understood as one end bdsm pain other of a binary. The ideas and concepts I am putting forward in this paper have their origins in a research project based in the UK, exploring the experiences of people living with chronic pain who receive pain as a part of their BDSM play Sheppard I interviewed eight people three times each over the course of a year to eighteen months, taking an appreciative inquiry approach where I began with a short set of initial, deliberately broad, starter questions.

My appreciative inquiry approach is rooted in interpretive phenomenological analysis IPA Langdridge a; Murray ; Langdridge and Buttwhich focuses on "how participants experience their world, and hence enables an insider's perspective" Murray Rather than seeking to contend with the narratives, this approach seeks to explore themes revealed through the narrative. The appreciative inquiry approach, which is also intended to enable exploration of those themes as they emerge during the interview, complements this through allowing narratives to stand as told.

This approach also fosters a friendly, supportive relationship between researcher and participant, which has the intention of enabling the participant to feel that their narrative is being heard and valued—and that they feel able to contest the researcher's understandings and critiques of the narratives. This explicit making space for discussion and contention aided the development of my understanding, as well as giving room to the multiplicity of cripistemologies and potential mis understandings.

As a chronically pained person myself, my experiences coloured my understandings, how I heard—and what I expected to hear. In acknowledging this, and actively inviting participants to speak back to my understandings, not only did this bdsm pain spaces for misunderstandings, but re-centred participants as experts in their own lives—instead of ontologically invalidating their narratives, an experience all the participants and myself had shared at some point in in becoming chronically pained and thus something I was anxious to avoid repeating.

The conversations that came about in response to the starter questions formed the first interview; the second began with a second set of questions developed in response to a deeper post-interview reading of the interview transcript, which enabled a period of reflection on the part of the researcher, and bdsm pain for deeper, slower investigation of emerging themes. Participants were invited to speak back to the research notes, identifying where they saw mis-readings and mis-understandings.

The third interview focused on this space for discussing themes and analysis with participants; the questions participants were asked were a mix of questions specific to the participant, and general questions reflecting on the emerging points of convergence and divergence in the analysis.

The research process was developed with space for unreliability—unreliable bodyminds and unreliable understandings—on the part of researcher and researched, as well as to build a space in which cripistemological understanding could be reached, in which one person can appreciate the lived experience of another while acknowledging that a complete and thorough understanding is impossible, acknowledging the lack of a single cohesive shared narrative—indeed explicitly seeking and making space points at which narratives diverged and contradicted, as a part of developing cripistemologies of chronic pain.

The interviews revealed the participants had complicated, highly individual experiences with their chronic pain, but also demonstrated a range bdsm pain broad themes. This paper focuses on a part of the project as a whole; not all of the participants in the research have their words directly quoted within the paper.

The three participants not quoted here told narratives and recounted experiences that focused less on the fluidity of pain—or their engagement with BDSM was different; this reflects both the conversational nature of the interview, as well as the multiplicities of experiences participants brought to the interviews. This is not to say that the narratives of all participants did not influence the findings of the research project as a whole, but that their narratives are beyond the scope of this particular paper—and will be explored elsewhere.

Participants are represented here by pseudonyms, but their identities are otherwise as described, using their preferred terms: Charlie, a queer non-gendered person; Catherine, a gender questioning bisexual person; Julie, Natalie, Michelle, and Rita, all bisexual cisgender women; David, a bisexual cisgender man; and Edward, a heterosexual cisgender man.

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All of the participants live in England. One of the participants, Michelle, is of dual heritage; 2 the rest are—or pass as—white.

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All have experienced having an undocumented disability at some point in their lives. Bdsm pain them, the eight participants had fifteen diagnoses contested or otherwise relating to chronic pain, and seven diagnoses relating to other disabilities—including neuroatypicality, mental illness, and physical disability. In the interviews, conversations focused on chronic pain, but with room to acknowledge the impact of other disabilities and lived experiences on how they lived with and experienced bdsm pain.

For the sake of readers not familiar with BDSM, I want to give a short overview of what it is, as well as a short overview of the participants' practices and places within BDSM. It is important to note the BDSM is socioculturally constructed and thus practices vary from place to place—and while there are points of similarity and concepts shared between cultural locations, there are also distinct differences across times and places; BDSM relies on—and plays with—social hierarchies Weiss ; Newmahr ; Cruz ; Langdridge and Barkerand those hierarchies are not uniform between cultures.

The acronym BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism Langdridge and Barker ; Taylor and Ussher ; but it is also referred to here by the participants' preferred term of 'kink. studies of BDSM communities, beyond acknowledging that there are multiple distinct—and often entirely separate—communities within BDSM Weiss ; Newmahr ; Bauer ; Baldwin ; Langdridge and Barker ; Taylor and Ussher ; Beckmannpaint a broad description of scenes which tend heavily towards being white, non-disabled, and middle-class, although otherwise diverse in terms of practices and sexualities.

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Many of the participants felt excluded from the semi-public scenes and spaces of kink because of their disability—as some spaces were felt to be less tolerant of disability, or were simply physically inaccessible—and also because maintaining a regular scene presence could be expensive, thus putting it out of the reach of participants reliant on benefits or in low-paid work.

However, all of the participants, with two exceptions, engaged with their local scene to varying bdsm pain, some socialising in kinky spaces on occasion, such as attending 'munches' social meetings without play, in non-kinky or 'vanilla' spacesconventions, or clubs. However, only Julie and David described themselves as 'regulars' on their local scene, and Julie stopped attending face-to-face scene events partway through the interview period due to a change in her capacities.

Participants engaged in a wide variety of practices, according to personal preference and the dictates of their play relationships.

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Given that they all received pain, it is not surprising that they all engaged in some form of impact play—such as spanking, flogging, or whipping—but for some this occurred as a part of other play, while for others the impact play was the focus. Half of the participants were exclusively submissive, while the others were switches, which meant they occasionally played as Dominant. For some participants, play was erotic and sexualised—and sexual gratification was a part of their play—while for others, play was not always erotic, and did not necessarily include or preclude sexual gratification; this has been observed in other s of BDSM communities Weiss ; Newmahr ; Bauer ; Langdridge and Barker The forms of the relationships within which play took place varied as well; Natalie, Catherine, Michelle and Rita all played within committed romantic and sexual relationships—as did Edward at the start of the interview period, and David towards the end of the interview period.

Bdsm pain, Julie, Rita, and David all had regular or semi-regular play partners who they were not in committed relationships with, but the frequency and regularity of this play varied, and some of those relationships were not centred exclusively around play scenes. Natalie and Catherine bdsm pain entirely in private, keeping their preference for BDSM very much apart from the rest of their lives, while the others all had kinky social circles. Kink pain was identified as a contrast to experiences of chronic pain that, at first look, appears not just distinct, bdsm pain opposing—why would someone who lives with chronic pain want more pain?

In the research, it became quickly obvious that one does not lead to the other, but nor does chronic pain make being kinky impossible. The difference between the experiences of chronic and kink pain can be broadly thought of as experiences of involuntary but expected chronic pain, and experiences of chosen, expected pain. Chosen pain, in the case of the participants, came from deliberate, consensual, kink play; it was expected in that they engaged in their preferred practice such as flogging or caning knowing beforehand that they would experience pain as a result.

Involuntary pain, the experience of which was not the focus of the research, can be understood as pain experienced unexpectedly. Chronic pain, however, is not consented to but it is also not unexpected —it is pain that has been experienced for some time, and is expected to continue for an unknown duration. Bodies feel pain—but the normal and proper bodymind is one that is not only able to feel pain at appropriate points, but one that can verbalise their experience and have it understood by others.

For the participants, the expectations of normal and abnormal pain impacted their lived experience of chronic bdsm pain in this section, I want to explore how ableist norms about pain affect how people live with chronic pain—and in particular, how participants felt they were not just unheard, but actively discouraged from talking about or expressing their pain. The sections afterward will explore participants' narratives in more depth, considering how normative expectations of pain shape the stigma they experienced—and how kink was a part of their living with chronic pain.

The chronically pained bodymind—one who is experiencing pain over months or years—is abnormal in that their pain is chronic rather than an acute eventbut also in that they are in pain at all. Discursively, there is an assumption that chronic pain is the same as acute pain —just over a longer period of time.

Morris, in his text The Culture of Paindescribes chronic pain as "a nightmare from which we may never truly awaken—or a waking state in which the nightmare never ends"71but this reveals as much about Morris' fear of chronic pain as it does about how he understands the experience—chronic pain is regarded as a constant nightmare state because acute pain is positioned as torture. Morris' statement effectively demonstrates the discourse that living a good life, a life that contains joy and happiness and pleasure in forms meaningful to the self, while also living with chronic pain is incomprehensible, an unimaginable state—the two are diametrically opposed.

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Bdsm pain borrow a term from Kumari Campbell who is describing disability more broadlyliving with chronic pain is an ontological impossibility —it is something a person cannot fully comprehend until they themselves live with a disability, and the prospect of being or becoming disabled is in effect horrifying and abject. This ontological impossibility of chronic pain—the impossibility of imagining living with chronic pain— in stigma. In effect, in shying away from hearing about other's pain because they are then forced to confront the possibility of becoming pained themselveslisteners silence chronically pained people.

Chronically pained people feel unable to speak of their pain—unable to express emotion related to their pain. Several participants, Julie among them, felt very limited in terms of freedom to express emotion due to the stigma of expressing contagious pain, and this meant they struggled to engage with the sensation of pain—as having their pain recognised by others was an important part of coming to live with pain.

This invalidation, for participants, was tied to feeling unheard when they spoke about pain—not just not listened to, but that the hearer was either unwilling or unable to comprehend what they participant was saying. Scarry and more recently Langdridge bplace pain as without a bdsm pain is not of, or for anything, having no referential quality … [it] represents experience that is not shared—not turned out in the worlds—and therefore not readily accessible to others" ibid, Pain without referent is positioned as an attack on the phenomenological self by Scarryas a sensation that destroys who we are and how we relate to the world.

Because of this, Scarry regards pain as inexpressible, beyond language. However, my participants are not the first to have pointed out that it is not that people have a problem speaking about pain, but that people have a problem hearing about another person's pain Young ; Patsavas ; Sheppard As Nielsen and Fernandez and Bourke b have pointed out, hearing about pain is unpleasant—it can be distressing, and, especially when the speaker is perceived of as returning to a well-worn topic, boring and annoying. This is not because pain is without referent, but because being in pain is ontologically impossible for those who are not in pain.

We want pain to have a bdsm pain, as the normalising discourses of pain require that it means something. Pain requires a referent because it demands attention, it focuses on our bodies, on their bounds and limits Wendell Pain—whether acute or chronic—requires us to renegotiate the spaces of our lives, of how we relate bdsm pain and live in the world Norridge ; we are "[cut] off from other people's reality" Wendellnot because pain lacks meaning, but because chronic pain makes us abject, monstrous, other.

Viewing chronic pain through a crip lens exposes the discursive construction of chronic pain, and allows us to critique normative constructions of pain. Through a crip lens, we notice that the normal bodymind is imagined as pain-free. Compulsory ablebodymindedness positions ideal humans as those who have the capacity to experience pain—indeed being able to feel pain is necessary to learn about danger—but the ideal ablebodymind is a healthy one; they do not or should not get sick, and, being young and athletic, they recover quickly from injury.

They fit the neoliberal risk society ideal of a flexible body McRuerwhich, on the rare occasions they do get sick or are injured, recovers quickly and completely before returning to productive work. As pain is positioned as negative and dehumanising even when it is necessary, a normal, proper and rational human also seeks to avoid pain in their lives, and to end it quickly when it is unavoidable. Combined with the assumption that a painful life is not a worthwhile one, there are a huge range of cures, treatments, and pain management or rehabilitation programmes pushed at people living with chronic pain—by bdsm pain and non-medics alike.

These cures can range from prescription medication and various therapies, to dietary and 'lifestyle' changes some of which may be presented as a therapeutic regime ; the majority can be grouped under neoliberal rehabilitation practices, making a profit while promising and not necessarily delivering to make the person living with chronic pain as close to discursively normal as possible Mitchell and Snyder Efficacy and success varies hugely from person to person, and treatment to treatment; accessibility varies widely as well—some cures are expensive, others require the person to live in an area near to various facilities, or care providers, others require large amounts of free time or energy to undertake.

Many require us to have all four: money, time, energy, and to live in the right location. What all do, regardless of efficacy or accessibility, is reinforce that a life lived with chronic pain is no life at all. In addition, as Patsavas has pointed out, the emphasis on cure and treatment pushes responsibility for ending pain onto the person living with chronic pain—they are responsible for finding a cure to try, and responsible for making what can be ificant life changes, or enduring unwanted side effects for months; they are responsible for continuing to try further cures when each inevitably, perhaps fails.

Chronic pain is thus cast as a personal failure; if a chronically pained person continues to be in pain, it is because they have not tried hard enough—they have failed to control their pain and failed to control their bodymind. People living with chronic pain thus experience stigma from two sides—the stigma of failing to be normal, and the stigma of being in pain—and so engage in stigma management alongside pain management. This stigma around failure to control their pain and their bodymind was particularly ificant for participants; they all felt a measure of social pressure to control their pain, and some had internalised this pressure.

Julie, when asked why she bdsm pain sought out pain in kink play, explained:. Whether that be resting to decrease some pain, using painkillers if they work, moving position at the simplest level.

Bdsm pain

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Physical Pain as Pleasure: A Theoretical Perspective