(This post is all about BDSM, so if that's not your cuppa, this probably won't interest you)

BDSM is lovely, particularly when it's more psychological than physical. What do I mean by psychological?

A BDSM practice that's heavy on psychology would, generally speaking, be something that's pretty high on emotional risk. For most people, a light flogging and a little rope bondage is a harmless bit of fun, so it's not what I'd consider "psychological." But for someone who has a lot of trouble with pain or confinement, it would count as psychological.

It's hard to see from the outside but it's easy to see in fiction. It's not about the bottom trying to accept a certain number of lashings or being able to sail away on a cloud of happy juju from the endorphins. (Not knocking it; it's just not what I mean.)

It's when the POV character (bottom or otherwise) is processing some sort of intense emotional reaction. In real life, you don't tend to get one without the other except in casual 'just for fun' scenes, but in fiction it's pretty much always either/or, depending on the point the author's trying to make.

Anything that messes with shame, fear, etc. counts, so mindfucks and humiliation, for starters. But it doesn't have to be unpleasant emotions in play. It could be things like respect and service, as with D/s (e.g., 24/7). It could be security, as with bondage (e.g., mummification).

Side note on humiliation... Humiliation is interesting; degradation not so much because it's hard to do degradation without overdoing it -- it gets gratuitous quickly. Difference? Humiliation is about playing with limits on shameful topics; degradation is about playing with ideas about being 'less than.'

What are some options?

Some possibilities that play on positive emotions...
  • 24/7 (e.g., care, concern, companionship, loyalty, honor, protection, approval)
  • Service submission (e.g., appreciation, respect, generosity, willingness, satisfaction, appreciation, precision)
  • Role playing (e.g., fantasy fulfillment, escapism, playfulness, give-and-take, curiosity, creativity, openness)
  • Bondage (e.g., security, limits, trust, reliance, bravery, calmness, grounding).
Some possibilities on the negative emotion side of things...
  • Limit work (e.g., risk, emotional overwhelm, endurance, suffering, tolerance levels, desperation, emotional gambling)
  • Mindfuck (e.g., fear, distrust, doubt, anxiety, lack of awareness, entrapment, dubcon)
  • Humiliation (e.g., shame, vulnerability, reluctant disclosure, uncertainty, disdain, disappointment, outcast)
  • Objectification (e.g., loss of identity, abandonment, deprivation, ceasing to exist, ill-used, misunderstood, loneliness)
  • Captivity and interrogation (e.g., making a horrible mistake, having to make a 'Sophie's choice,' dependence, cruelty, terror, Stockholm, despair)

Okay, really really, I'm answering the question now. What kink do I prefer?

  • Anything that steps hard on internal conflicts about need and desire
    • and I don't mean vanilla sexual desire
    • this includes coming out, self-discovery, self acceptance, allowing someone else to see who you really are, learning to trust in love, etc.
    • it's not good in a character study piece, though -- it needs to be something that changes in intensity or availability or acceptance or something through the course of the fic

  • I love subtlety
    • tiny little details and offhand remarks that sneak in -- blink and you'll miss them -- but they have big symbolism
    • the author [personal profile] telaryn is master of this. The things she can do to me with a set of leather cuffs and an offhand comment about Sophie or a mention of voyeurism are just... gah, so good.
    • nonverbal communication -- any time someone just responds the right way to their partner and onlookers didn't catch how that happened
    • subtext - words are contradicted by actions, reactions, etc.
    • any discipline should be nearly invisible manipulation and coercion, not behaviorist punishment and reward (except in bratty sub D/s)

  • Love and affection
    • cuddling, snuggling, naked spooning, affectionate touches, you get the picture

  • If there's Nate/Sterling BDSM, then mindfuck is mandatory
My favorite kinks (in order of preference, though by all means, mix and match):
  1. D/s: Service submission
    • By which I mean Eliot
    • This is especially good when there's no defined D/s relationship and that causes heartache
    • If there's a Dom, he's obligated to be attentive and appreciative (or I will hate his guts)
  2. Humiliation
    • About things that are real insecurities, not silly stuff like like chastising someone for sluttiness when they really don't mind being perceived as a slut in that context
    • No dubcon/noncon -- it's delicate work that requires tons of negotiation, though that can be off-screen
    • Eliot, Nate, and Sterling are all good targets here
    • Aftercare is your friend
  3. Voyeurism
    • Where the exhibitionist(s) either know they're being watched or wouldn't mind that they were
    • Nate as voyeur, so spun up in the thoughts and fantasies that are inspired by what he's seeing that he doesn't even think to join in
  4. Limit work
    • Scenes that have the bottom worried that they'll have to call a safeword
    • This includes pretty much any kink that gets the negative emotions going
    • It can also include sensation play, pain, etc. if it has the right degree of "being able to process it but only barely" -- pacing counts for a lot.
    • Using role play to explore emotional ground that someone wouldn't be willing to explore outside of a role because they need the distance they get from playing a role
    • No dubcon/noncon -- it's delicate work that requires tons of negotiation, though that can be off-screen
    • This should include a lot of reassurance and emotional petting on the part of the top, though that can wait for the aftercare period if the scene has too much role playing to allow for it
    • Aftercare is your friend
  5. Bondage/Suspension work
    • Mummification/sensory deprivation
      • Make sure the bottom knows for sure that the top is still there.
      • In sensory dep, that means noting that the top couldn't have left without noise or some other obvious tell.
    • Ropes/Suspension bondage
      • In canon Nate has a suspension harness in his closet. I want to see why.
      • Bonus points if it's Nate in the harness and it's a Big Deal to him
      • Because my mind borked very pleasantly when Nate rappeled like he was born to it in The Second David Job
      • Bonus points if Nate can rig rope suspension bondage like a pro
      • ...and now I want a non-sexual scene where Nate suspends Parker by creating a rope harness, just because they think it'll look nice
    • Touchy, tactile stuff - top uses their body to constrain movement (not just pinning them; the top holding the bottom's wrists together, immobilizing postures and the like)
      • Reminds me of a demo I saw where the top stayed in physical contact with his bottom at every moment of the scene, often via his bare foot next to his bottom's bare foot *yesplease*
    • Predicament bondage
    • Takedown scenes
  6. Mindfuck
    • Creativity is the key
    • Try to get them going on several levels/several senses at once
    • Go on the con -- the human mind is biologically incapable of seeing obvious things while it's sufficiently distracted
    • A must-have in Nate/Sterling. Seriously.
    • And dubcon/noncon is fair game with Nate/Sterling mindfuck
    • Edgeplay and the threat thereof is great as long as it's done safely and sanitarily (though of course the bottom doesn't have to know it's safe and sanitary 'til after the fact)
    • Parker as sadist. 'Nuff said.
  7. Role playing
    • Since this is listed separately from limit work, this indicates stuff that's less intense and more fun and games.
    • Positive emotions, creativity, exploration, humor.
    • Switching
  8. D/s: Mentoring/guidance/parental 24/7
    • No sexual age play
    • You can't mentor someone if you can't keep your own shit together. This requires a Dom who's competent at daily life.
  9. D/s: Strict protocol
    • Sterling as a very strict protocol Dom would be brilliant
    • As with service submission, the Dom must be attentive and appreciative or I will hate his guts and lose interest in the scenario
    • Protocol is lovely because it causes each person to make special effort and take time for the other, for no other reason than to be thoughtful
    • Protocol is also lovely is because it lends itself to such an awareness of the most subtle cues in both the Dom and the sub
  10. Messing with sense of identity
    • Wanting to be objectified - the book "Venus in Furs"
    • Dehumanization - nonsexual animal play
    • Gender play - feminization
    • Scenes that involve going outside of one's sexual orientation -- just no dubcon/noncon
  11. D/s: Bratty sub
    • Not too many people are suited to be a brat -- Parker or Maggie, maybe
    • Definitely not Sophie. I was never fond of her temper tantrums toward Nate in canon.
But really, anything that stomps on someone's emotional buttons is great.

Okay, what about limits? What's the stuff I don't like?

    'Tis hard to squick me where kink is concerned. The only real dealbreakers are:

    • Starting off a first-time D/s scene with dubcon. It bothers me a lot when "submission" is shown by someone backing down in the face of someone else's aggression.
    • Sexualized age play

    And other things that don't really do it for me:

    • Not really into overt behavioral training (blatant if-then punishment and reward) except as part of bratty sub D/s. In other forms of D/s, it should be very subtle, by manipulating the sub's sense of approval, and the like.
    • You probably shouldn't do captivity and interrogation, unless you know what you're doing. I tend to get distracted by any little out-of-place detail or become frustrated that something got glossed over.
    • Degradation (playing with ideas of someone being "less than") because it's so individual that what one person does probably won't do it for the next person
Anything else I might have missed that fits my definition of psychological BSDM? Let me know so I can figure out where it goes on the list.
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