My last post about sub space got a flood of responses. Most of the 3,000+ people who replied here and on Fetlife were very complimentary. I appreciate the kind words. A few folks sent me links to articles which link sub space to a simple norepinephrine (aka adrenaline) release.
The most popular article people sent me a link too was one of the Frisky Business Boutique blog. The article begins with a disclaimer that the person is not a medial professional but they checked with a few others who are in the medical field to make sure they weren’t totally off base. The article then guides the reader through the “stages” of sub space based on theoretical literature on the release of endorphine and adrenaline.
Yes, these brain chemicals do influence sub space. Yes, they do get released in people who experience pain. No, they are not the sum total of the reason people experience sub space. Looking at sub space as simply “brain chemistry” misses much of the actual experience of sub space.
Can Sub Space Be Explained as a Flood of Chemicals?
Let me address a few things in the article:
The author starts by describing Stage I as “When a scene first starts, there are no endorphins in the submissive and even fairly light torment is very stingy, ouchy, and, well, painful!”
Ok, if you walk into a location to do a scene with no mental preparation, planning or discussion, I could believe this. However, as someone who has played for a very long time, here is my experience. Scenes that end in sub space for me begin long before any physical sensations are delivered. Most of the time, my partners and I spend some time talking or texting prior to the event. Generally, I am required to do some sort of preparation for a scene.
Much of the time, the texting and preparation start my descent into sub space. My partner will generally establish any new parameters for the scene and there will be some talk about desired outcomes. This starts the flow of hormones and adrenaline long before I start a scene. Generally, I shower, shave, prepare my ass for play, and insert a butt plug before I meet with my partner. I dress (or undress) as instructed. Often times when they come to my place to play, I wait in a prescribed position for them to arrive. All of this helps set the head space and starts brain chemistry switches long before I am ever touched.
The author continues “next 10 minutes is spent doing anything that provides relatively light but constant stimulation to induce the bottom’s body to create the next endorphin load for release.” Okay, first, unless you are doing something where there needs to be time limits, people in a scene are not watching a clock. Yes, when I have done rope scenes, the rigger will pay strict attention to the amount of time spent in suspension. However, with impact and sensation types of play, there is little attention paid to time. This article is based on the conceit that scenes happen in 10 minute increments to coincide with the bodies release of specific chemicals. If you look at the timeline, any scene under an hour should never produce sub space.
That is simply false. Some people reach sub space very quickly with certain partners. Others will never reach it. If sub space was as simple as an extended set of chemical releases, every sub could enjoy an hour long scene broken into 10 minute segments and reach sub space. That is not the case, so, there has to be something more to reaching sub space than just a chemical flood of the brain.
“Level Three and Four” – Early Sub Space
The author contends once a sub reached Level Three, they will be in a early form of sub space. It is described as “Now at Level Three, the bottom will definitely feel a little bit woozy, exhibiting a mildly-drugged state. His eyelids should appear droopy, and he will fall into a more relaxed condition than before, more low moans and groans, and lower inhibitions.”
From both my experience and the hundreds of comments I received from other subs, this type of sub space is only an occasional thing in some scenes. The most common description of sub space is “floating” and “happy” and “light” and “flying.” These actual descriptions of sub space stand in stark contrast to “mildly-drugged” and “droopy.” Yes, someone experiencing just a flood of brain chemicals will exhibit this. Sub space, however, is beyond a simple chemical rush explanation. That is why subs who experience sub space don’t describe it the way the article does.
The article continues, “At this Level Four state, there is a very definite altered state of consciousness. The bottom will feel drugged and will be very compliant and submissive now. This is countered, however, by the largest charges of adrenalin [sic] he has received so far, the result of the intense climax just used to push him over this edge. The bottom is still quite communicative and his reaction time is still quick.”