THIS WILL BE A LONG POST! IF YOU WANT THE TL;DR VERSION, PLEASE SKIP DOWN TO THE RED HEADING BANNER BELOW.
It’s been a while since I got an ask, but one popped up in my Twitter inbox this morning and it was just too good to pass up! @kinkedadvocate* wrote:
Hope you don’t mind the DM. Saw your tweet about answering questions on your blog — figured I’d toss something out from left field, and the character limit on tweets wouldn’t quite do it justice. “Mind-fucks” with consenting partners, as a form of edge-play. Variations; safety; potential short and long-term effects; after-care if and when needed or desired, and potential use in helping a willing partner either 1, helping your partner overcome something, or 2, being therapeutic in some way. Your thoughts on the subject, and of course, the consequences of going too far.
Well, this is a GREAT question, and since it works well with my preferred wheelhouse of mental and psychological Dominance, it’s one I’ve given a great deal of thought and consideration to since well before I ever started my journey as a Dominant. So, let’s start with definitions.
Mindfucking as the term is generally used in the D/s community is a form of edgeplay. You might think of it as “consensual** gaslighting.” The entire idea behind mindfucking is to play with a submissive’s perceptions of reality itself for various reasons, within the dedicated liminal space of the dynamic. A mindfuck could be as simple as sensory and spatial deprivation, as therapeutic as helping a submissive quit smoking, or as complex and fraught with possible landmines as a full-on consensual drugging, kidnapping and rape scene.
The human mind is a frighteningly complex and not terribly logical place. We like to think we’re rational and reasonable, but most people’s pattern recognition software goes into overdrive when we’re alone and nervous, seeing forms, shapes and even faces in otherwise benign settings and circumstances. We fear the Unknown. We fear the Other. We fear the things we cannot see, weigh or measure. This sort of fear, provided in a safe environment by a properly attuned and attentive Dominant, can be extremely liberating. By playing on these fears in a guided, directed, purposeful manner, the Dominant can actually help the submissive overcome past trauma or current stressors and fears.
As with any other form of edgeplay, you should NEVER attempt mindfucking of any kind with a mentally or emotionally fragile partner and/or one who is not fully informed of and consenting to what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how you intend to deal with the potential aftermath! Education and communication are IMPERATIVE in this or any other sort of edgeplay.
Let’s start with the basics.
When a Dominant tells a submissive to kneel or perform another task, and the submissive sets to that task instantly and without apparent thought or consideration, this is a very light version of a mindfuck. The submissive is willingly relinquishing control of their mind and body to the Dominant to the point necessary to permit both or all parties to obtain the satisfaction and release they seek from the act or scene. Because the submissive has consensually ceded control to the Dominant, the submissive is in effect mindfucking themselves!
However, this conditioning is not a natural state in itself. Nearly every submissive I’ve ever had or met was a very strong-willed person, of moderate to high intelligence and with mental and emotional fortitude to match. In such people, this state of unthinking obedience must be cultivated and encouraged on all sides with patience, time and diligence.
Because such usages are considered a commonplace usage of submissive training, they are not associated with edgeplay in the everyday kink lexicon. Nevertheless, I maintain the conditioning required to bring about such a shift in perception from “I’m in charge” to dropping to one’s knees and sucking cock or whatever on command is an ongoing, low-level mindfuck in its own right.
Now, let’s take this up a notch or three, into the more “usual” spaces mindfucking encompasses.
If you saw the Thomas Jane-John Travolta rendition of The Punisher, you’ve seen a more “typical” mindfuck in play, even if you didn’t associate it as such at the time. (I certainly didn’t!) I’m thinking specifically of the scene where Frank Castle has the lackey chained upside down from the ceiling and uses a blowtorch, a hamburger patty in a skillet and a popsicle to make the guy think his flesh is being burnt right off his body. Then, when he has the information, he pops the popsicle into the guy’s mouth as an unsubtle yet unspoken “Fuck you.”
Obviously, this sort of “enhanced interrogation” is outside the comfort zone of most people, to say nothing of skirting dangerous close to violating a number of state, federal and international laws regarding torture. However, it does emphasize the point of just how effective the mind can be at self-deception. This is something a savvy, skilled Dominant can use to their submissive’s advantage, done properly.
Let’s look at a couple of typical consensual mindfuck scenarios.
1. The Dominant places the submissive in a CONSENSUAL, purposefully uncomfortable situation. For example, the Dominant takes the submissive to a dungeon/play party and orders them to disrobe. They know they will remain this way until they leave unless the Dominant says otherwise. They will be nude and on display for all to see. The submissive must now wrestle with a number of inculcated taboos and attitudes and successfully overcome them, including:
- A general cultural prohibition against nudity in public spaces
- An cultural sense that nudity is a private thing
- The submissive’s own body image and sense of self
- The dehumanizing and disempowering effect of being required to be nude in a space where at least half the others present are not
- The degradation attendant upon all the above
For this to be a successful mindfuck, the submissive must deal with and process all these feelings quickly and efficiently. They must then obey proudly and swiftly, demonstrating their Dominant’s control and the submissive’s compliance. In a perfect world, they would be concerned only with their Dominant’s opinion of them and their appearance, no one else’s…but that’s not (usually) reality, and adds yet another facet to the mindfuck. However, the payoff is the Dominant’s pride in the submissive, and the submissive’s reassurance that they are equal to any task the Dominant may choose to set them.
2. The Dominant uses a mindfuck as a therapeutic device. The submissive has a problem, issue, quirk or addiction they want to overcome, and asks the Dominant for assistance and aid.
This last bit is REALLY important! A good Dominant doesn’t just go through willy-nilly, rewiring their submissive’s brain and redecorating the psyche to the Dominant’s tastes. In fact, a good Dominant doesn’t go there AT ALL without a damned good reason AND the submissive’s stated approval and active, enthusiastic participation.
Yes, yes, I’m well aware someone’s saying, “But J.S., that’s really just good kink protocol and a good relationship!” Yes, you’re right. But all the warnings, waivers and disclaimers which apply to any D/s act or activity apply TRIPLE when you’re tinkering with someone’s psychological wiring!
You can do very serious, lasting or even permanent harm to your submissive if you don’t execute a mindfuck properly or with appropriate motives.
The sorts of mindfucks one can apply in this situation are diverse, and should be calibrated to the submissive’s specific needs and goals. For example, if a submissive wants to quit smoking or to be able to relax and enjoy their orgasms more, a Dominant might employ hypnotic techniques to assist the submissive. If a submissive wanted to overcome a past trauma, the Dominant might recreate the circumstances of the trauma in question, but alter one or two key details which allow the submissive to immerse in the trauma and work through it while still maintaining a feeling of safety and security. In the latter case, this would be akin to watching a horror movie; the submissive can get lost in the “story,” but know if it becomes necessary the Dominant can turn the lights on, shut off the movie and give the submissive aftercare.
However, it is important to note the Dominant is not doing the work in this kind of a mindfuck. The submissive must be the one to take the actual journey. The Dominant may AND SHOULD guide and direct the submissive, but it is the submissive’s own mind and heart which must do the lifting if the results are to mean anything worthwhile to them. Also, let me reiterate that IT IS NEVER APPROPRIATE to attempt a mindfuck on an unwilling, incapacitated, intoxicated or distressed submissive!
Having said this, let’s look at what to do if a mindfuck goes wrong.
I cannot emphasize the potential damage a Dominant can do with a poorly executed mindfuck enough. Even worse, you can do everything as right as you know how and STILL have things go completely, goat-fuckingly pear-shaped! However, you can mitigate the damage if things go south by doing the following things.
- Know your partner’s reactions and baselines. You should know intimately what their “scene” body language is versus their “terror” body language before you attempt a mindfuck. If you are unsure as to what you’re seeing, safewords be damned, ALWAYS ASSUME THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO AND SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN!
- Shut the scene down immediately if you get a reaction or response which indicates terror, undue stress or which appears disproportionate to the stimulus being applied, safewords be damned.
- Start aftercare, and first aid if necessary. Cuddling and letting your submissive cry are definitely part of this, if needed.
- Talk to your submissive in a calm, confident, soothing voice. You may be panicking on the inside; THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR YOU TO FALL APART! Your needs just went straight to the bottom of the priorities list, Jack. Your submissive needs to hear you, feel you and know they’re in a safe place. Repetition and encouraging them to purge any negative emotions so they reach a neutral headspace will facilitate this.
- AFTER you have calmed your submissive, debrief and discuss what happened. Emphasize what they experienced, saw, felt, heard and the emotional state it provoked. Try to isolate where things went pear-shaped and see if you can work out a plan of attach to deal with this in future.
- This is one time you need to let your submissive lead and guide YOU. They know what they need better than you do in this case. Listen to what they ask for, or avoid, and act accordingly.
- If necessary, summon medical help.
Potential Short- and Long-Term Effects
Done right, a mindfuck can be a very powerful tool for:
- Emphasizing the nature of the dynamic
- Overcoming past trauma
- Breaking habits the submissive wishes to alter
- Managing stress
- Ingraining behaviors which the submissive feels will be of value
Done improperly, incautiously or with sinister motives, a mindfuck can lead to:
- Damaged sense of self and self-worth
- Nightmares/night terrors
- The end of the relationship
- Psychological damage which requires intensive treatment, medication or even hospitalization to overcome
A mindfuck can be a wonderful tool for strengthening a D/s dynamic and building a stronger foundation for all concerned. However, it is not without risk, as we have seen. When in doubt, DO NOT PROCEED with a mindfuck! Even if your submissive says everything’s okay, if YOU have any doubt, you as the Dominant have the responsibility and obligation to end the scene instantly at the first hint of trouble.
The TL;DR Quick-Start Guide to Mindfucks
- Identify the intended purpose and outcome of the mindfuck.
- Make sure you fully understand your motives and intentions, and that you understand HOW to perform the mindfuck you propose in a way which emphasizes your submissive’s physical, mental and emotional safety at all times above all else.
- Ensure you have enthusiastic, ongoing consent and approval for the mindfuck and your intended purpose from your submissive.
- Take it slowly. A good mindfuck takes time to build properly. Think of it as a psychological seduction.
- At the first sign of trouble, SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN, safeword or no safeword!
- Debrief and discuss with your submissive. No detail is too trivial.
- Isolate problem areas and evaluate with your submissive how those problems can be overcome.
- NEVER attempt a mindfuck with anyone who is in a disturbed, distressed or unbalanced mental or emotional state!
Disclaimers and Notes
*@kinkedadvocate granted consent to have his Twitter handle and question posted in its entirety, without redaction. If you wish to ask me something but have concerns about anonymity, I’m fine with redacting any identifying or potentially identifying information. All you have to do is ask!
**In case the message didn’t sink in, there is NO circumstance I can envision where it is okay to mindfuck an unwilling partner or otherwise act in a matter which violates their consent. This is why I bolded the word “consensual” throughout this post. If you do this nonconsensually, you can really damage your partner and you’re being a dick to boot. DON’T BE A DICK!!!
So, having given my thoughts about mindfucks and how they work, I’d like to hear from YOU, gentle reader! What are your experiences with mindfucks? Have I missed anything you feel is important, or overlooked a point which would maximize the safety of a mindfuck scene for the recipient?
Thanks for reading, and have a great Friday, everyone!
All images sourced from Pixabay under creative commons license without attribution requirement. If one of your images was included herein erroneously, please click here to contact me and I will be glad to remove it immediately.