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I spent over two decades as a full-time, independent professional Dominatrix (ProDomme). Some submissive clients (submissives) came to my dngeon out of curiosity; they wanted to give it a try to see how they liked BDSM. However, the majority of my submissives were men whom I had seen on a regular or semi-regular basis for years (regulars).
There was a distinct difference between the regulars and the thrill seekers. The thrill seekers wanted to try some new forbidden thing and left my dungeon having learned quite a bit about the different forms of BDSM and fetish. The regulars came in because they needed it. This need, however, went beyond submission.
I would notice how my regulars would look different when they left (and I am not talking about the cane stripes). They would enter the dungeon with a pallor, slumped shoulders, looking tired, and stressed. They would leave with a nice flush in their cheeks, standing straighter, and with a pep in their step. When I first began my days as a ProDomme I thought it was a simple biological reaction to everything that had transpired, an endorphin rush. That changed when my most regularly visiting submissive told me, in a serious tone, that I was his therapist.
During my years as a ProDomme I talked to many submissives who considered our sessions therapeutic. I once heard it referred to as “Domme therapy” by a guy who said that when life was at its most difficult point, he NEEDED to come see me. Not a want, but a distinct need. Submissive males would call me and ask for a “therapy appointment.”
Apparently I am not alone. BDSM is widely acknowledged by ProDommes and submissives as a form of informal therapy. Lindemann (2011) interviewed 66 ProDommes from San Francisco and New York City. Lindemann found that therapeutic discourse was regularly mentioned. Sometimes sessions were therapeutic in that they worked against the sexuality-based repression that many submissives felt. One ProDomme mentions seriously thinking that some of her clients would have become sexual predators has it not been for their ability to visit a ProDomme (Lindemann, 2011). In this same journal article another Domme mentions a client’s ability to act out racial humiliation as being therapeutic to him. Anecdotally, I have personally witnessed this with several of my clients of color
Supporting BDSM as therapy are interesting findings from scientists in Russia. In Siberia, scientists have discovered that using corporal discipline/punishment can sure alcoholism, drug addiction, and even sex addictions. Clients meet with a therapist before receiving 30 to 60 cane strokes on the buttocks. Dr. German Pilipenko and a fellow practitioner claim to have cured thousands of individuals with “Whipping Therapy” (Beating Addiction, 2013). Dr. Sergei Speransky (2018) claims that depression, psychosomatic, and even suicidal thoughts can be cured with this approach to therapy (Sudakov, 2018). Speransky cured his own depression through Whipping Therapy (he coined the term) by way of self-flagellation, and claims that Tibetan monks have been using a form of Whipping Therapy for a long time.
While the scientists did not use the treatment on known masochists, the biological effects can theoretically translate to any human regardless of sexual proclivities. It might explain one of the reasons why a good S&M session seemingly has therapeutic effects. With that being said, it would be interesting to see what the findings of empirical research would be if a Whipping Therapy experiment were done with regard to BDSM.
Beating addiction out of you - literally. (2013, January 7). The Siberian Times. Retrieved from http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/features/beating-addiction-out-of-you-literally/
Lindemann, D. (2011). BDSM as therapy? Sexualities, 14(2), 151–172. doi:10.1177/1363460711399038
Sudakov, D. (2018, August 30). Whipping therapy cures depression and suicide crises. Pravda Report. Retrieved from http://www.pravdareport.com/health/7950-whipping/