An introduction to Subspace

STAR TREK WARNING:  You’re going to get a shock – the Subspace we’re discussing here is not the parallel universe or the space-time that facilitates faster-than-light communication and transit. If you’re looking for this – google Trekkie Subspace or Star Trek Subspace.

Subspace is generally regarded as a moderate to deep, almost trace-like, condition experienced by a submissive during intense or erotic interaction with her Dominant. It is a metaphor (shorthand) for the state the submissive’s mind and body are in during a deeply involving play scene. Many BDSM scenes (play settings) invoke strong physical and emotional body responses including the extended adrenalin surges discussed in Aftercare. As a result the Sub is exposed to a range of emotions and feelings that can in turn trigger a heightened response to the Dominant’s manipulations with the result that the psychological and mental aspects of the sub are altered in BDSM with the effect that many submissives separate themselves mentally from their environment as they process the experience, even to the extent, during deep sub-space, that the sub can cease to react logically to her body and becomes auto-suggestive and in a deep trance-like recessive mental state and even incoherent.

Deep sub-space can be as effective as hypnosis and can leave the submissive emotionally and psychologically vulnerable and at risk as well as completely exhausted and a submissive in sub-space and particularly deep sub-space needs very careful monitoring by the Dominant throughout the scene to make sure they do not place themselves in danger. In deep sub-space, they often won’t even notice that they’re in danger and will readily consent to things that they would not otherwise consent to.

“Captain, I have some sub space activity happening”

The bottom in a BDSM scene in sub-space thus feels a deeper involvement and greater intensity of feelings and a massive connection between the players, and can experience a psychological state-change similar to that between long-term hostage and kidnapper known as Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm syndrome is described as a strong emotional tie that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other, so you can see the similarities. The Sub-space syndrome however arises because of the consensual nature of the BDSM behaviour and leads to a situation where the sub wishes to please the Dominant and where the ego of the sub defends itself, exactly as in Stockholm syndrome, by altering their perception of threat. it is this alteration of threat perception that means that the sub becomes psychologically unable to notice the threat and related dangers because they adopt the Dominant’s attitude to the threat and why a sub in subspace will readily consent to things that they would not otherwise consent to.

In terms of evolutionary psychology, the mind is a set of information-processing machines that were designed by natural selection to solve adaptive problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and the human mind has this adaptive defence to cover situations that in evolutionary terms have not changed for millennia and for example allowed psychological defences to automatically kick in where  our hunter-gatherer ancestors”, particularly females, were being abducted by another tribe and it is this Partial activation of the capture-bonding psychological trait that lies behind women repeatedly returning to the abusers in battered-wife syndrome. It is also a psychological trait seen in many cults.

Whilst BDSM is consensual, it is essential that the Dominant understands there psychological traits because only then can they safely navigate a sub through sub-space and effectively bring her out of sub-space during aftercare without the activation of the capture bonding psychological state-change. It is the post-scene aftercare that eases them back to a rational state of mind.

The likelihood of subspace occurring depends to a large extent on the ability and willingness of the bottom to let go and allow the feelings to develop with the Dominant and once she does so, the deeper the involvement within BDSM and the greater the level of intensity and connection between the players, the higher the likelihood of subspace occurring.

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